Iowa Legislative Update: 2023 Week One

posted on Monday, January 16, 2023 in Government Affairs

Iowa Chamber Alliance     Update provided by Iowa Chamber Alliance (ICA)

The first session of the 90th General Assembly convened at 10:00 am on January 9th. For the seventh year in a row, Republicans maintained control of the House, Senate, and Governor’s office.  Their majority in the House is 64 R-36 D and in the Senate, it is 34 R-16 D.

Republican leaders in both the House and Senate identified property tax reform and education reform as top priorities for 2023. Both chambers are expected to propose legislation aimed at lowering property taxes for Iowans in the coming weeks. 

“Iowans pay some of the highest property taxes in the country, and the system responsible for that problem wasn’t built overnight, and the solution to it won’t be either,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said in his opening comments. “But I can tell you, Senate Republicans are up to the challenge on the best long-term strategy for Iowa taxpayers.” 

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls stated his party is supportive of changing Iowa’s property tax laws, so long as they support middle-class Iowans. “Senate Democrats will work with anyone on common-sense property tax reform, but we are not interested in tax giveaways that overwhelmingly benefit the ultrarich and big corporations.” 

House File 1 was introduced last Wednesday by Speaker of the House Pat Grassley and 33 of his Republican colleagues.  It proposes reforming Iowa’s property tax laws by reducing the $5.40 school foundation levy, increasing transparency requirements, and capping assessment increases.

Senator Amy Sinclair was elected to serve as the new Senate President following the 2022 midterm elections and emphasized advancing the Governor’s education reform legislation would continue to be a priority for the Senate. 

During the Condition of the State address, Governor Kim Reynolds introduced her proposed school choice legislation that would provide families in Iowa with state-funded private school scholarships. The proposal would allow every Iowa family to apply for a private school scholarship of $7,598 annually to cover tuition and other qualified expenses. 

Governor Reynolds also announced her priorities to expand maternal health services in Iowa and reorganize state government, consolidating the number of state agencies from 37 to 16 and addressing Iowa’s Administrative Code.

Additionally, Governor Reynolds signed an executive order placing a moratorium on all new administrative rulemaking and directing state agencies to review all existing rules. Iowa’s current Administrative Code is more than 20,000 pages. Agencies are required to re-promulgate the rules they want to keep and rules not formally adopted by December 31, 2026, are repealed. 

All Senate and House standing committees met last week to introduce the committee members and satisfy organizational requirements. This week, legislators began holding subcommittee meetings on bills introduced and assigned.