Week Four Grow Cedar Valley Legislative Update

posted on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 in Government Affairs

Steve Firman
Steve Firman, Director of Government Affairs

The Iowa Legislature is in week 4 of this year’s session. We are pleased that the House and the Senate are working on bills that address some of Grow Cedar Valley's legislative priorities.

In the area of workforce and talent...

...the Iowa House has put a great deal of emphasis on trying to expand access and affordability of childcare to make it easier for parents to be able to enter or remain in the workforce. The House has introduced a number of bills aimed toward addressing childcare needs across the state.

Most of the bills filed provide grants, tax credits, and incentives to increase the number of childcare providers and encourage businesses to provide childcare options. While the multiple bills have started to move through subcommittee and committee, House leadership intends to combine the successful initiatives and pass one large childcare package. Companion bills have been filed in the Senate, but the House has taken the lead in this area.

We are pleased that Governor Reynolds has made a very strong commitment to expanding broadband to meet the needs of Iowans.

She has filed bills in both chambers (HSB 133 and SSB 1089) outlining her proposals to invest $450 million over three years in broadband infrastructure and expansion.

This investment will provide matching grants of 35% to 75% to communications service providers that would undertake the expansion projects. Both bills have been assigned to subcommittees for review, with much discussion most likely focused on the level of financial support required.

One of the priorities we expected to support again this year was the Governor’s Invest in Iowa initiative.

This program would trigger Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWILL) to include resources for regionally transformative quality of life projects, mental health services and would address tax disparities that impact our overall tax climate.

Governor Reynolds decided not to propose this package that would have included a one-cent increase in the state sales tax, but the Legislature is looking at other ways to improve the tax climate and have the state take more responsibility for mental health care by shifting some of the burden from the counties.

An extraordinary number of bills have been introduced this year and the pace of activity has been very aggressive. The first funnel, where bills must have been passed in one Chamber and passed by a Committee in the other to remain alive, is March 5th. Once that deadline is reached we will have a much clearer picture of what issues are going to be the focus of the Legislature’s efforts for the rest of the session.

Grow Cedar Valley will continue to monitor updates. We plan to share more after the first funnel in early March and the second funnel in early April or as necessary.

Thank you to the dozens of Cedar Valley businesses who shaped and directed our 2021 legislative priorities. For any questions or comments, please reach out to any of our staff.