Which Iowa bills are still alive? Changes to education, child labor laws advance after 'funnel' deadline

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Iowa lawmakers won’t be limiting eminent domain for carbon pipelines this year — the most high-profile casualty of the Iowa Legislature's second "funnel" deadline.

The deadline, which passed Friday, is a mechanism that serves to winnow the number of bills legislators may consider after completing the 12th week of the 2023 session.

But lawmakers are moving ahead on a slate of changes to the state’s education system and laws relating to LGBTQ Iowans, particularly transgender children. Many of those ideas have either already been signed into law or have been consolidated in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ wide-ranging education bill, Senate File 496.

To survive the second funnel deadline, bills need to pass one chamber, then make it through a subcommittee and committee in the other chamber.

However, Republican legislative leaders, who hold majorities in the Iowa House and Senate, still have ways to keep high-priority bills alive through the end of session.

Some supposedly “dead” bills could be revived as amendments to other bills, or as additions to the state budget. Others may be gone for good — but nothing’s for sure until the final gavel falls.

House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, said with the funnel behind them Republicans’ conversations will now turn to property taxes and finding agreement on crafting the state’s budget.

“I think we’ve had some really productive meetings with members of the caucus on property taxes and what that would look like. … Hopefully next week I’d love to see us make further progress on that piece of legislation,” Grassley said.

Speaker of the Iowa House Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, answers questions from the press after Gov. Kim Reynolds' Condition of the State address, on Tuesday evening, Jan. 10, 2023, at the Iowa State Capitol, in Des Moines.
Speaker of the Iowa House Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, answers questions from the press after Gov. Kim Reynolds' Condition of the State address, on Tuesday evening, Jan. 10, 2023, at the Iowa State Capitol, in Des Moines.

Democrats criticized the Republican agenda, which they said isn’t about helping Iowans or strengthening the state.

“Republicans in the Legislature are much more interested in scoring political points trying to make Iowa more like states like Florida, South Dakota and Alabama rather than doing what’s right for Iowans,” said Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville. “They’ve shown us their priorities over and over again, and they’re not Iowa priorities.”

Here’s a list of where some of the major bills stand in the Iowa Legislature this year.

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Legislation signed into law

Banning gender-affirming care for minors

Iowa doctors may not provide transgender kids with puberty blockers, hormone therapy or transition-related surgery on breasts or genitals. Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 22, starting a six-month countdown for doctors to taper off gender-affirming medication for current patients or refer them to providers in other states. Senate File 538.

Transgender bathroom restrictions

People may not enter school restrooms or changing rooms that do not align with their sex at birth. Transgender students need written parental consent to request accommodations, like a unisex single-user restroom or controlled access to faculty restrooms. The law took effect immediately when Reynolds signed it on March 22. Senate File 482.

Bills still alive

Banning teaching of gender identity, sexual orientation

Senate File 496 prohibits teachers from instructing about gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through sixth grade. A separate bill on the issue, House File 348, did not advance through the funnel deadline.

Telling parents about transgender kids

Senate File 496 also requires school district employees to notify a student’s family if the student requests to use pronouns or a name differs from their sex at birth. It’s a response to a Linn-Mar school district policy that allows students in seventh grade or above to use a different name or pronouns at school without parental consent. A separate bill on the issue, House File 180, did not clear the funnel deadline.


Legislation signed into law

Private school scholarships

Reynolds has already signed her top priority of the year — a law allowing every Iowa family to access up to $7,600 of state money per student to pay private school costs like tuition and fees. Public school districts will get about $1,200 for each private school student within their boundaries who receives an education savings account. The law will phase in over the next three years and is expected to cost about $345 million annually once it’s fully in place. House File 68.

Bills still alive

HPV vaccine instruction

Schools would not be required to teach about human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted infection known as HPV, or the vaccine to prevent HPV. The language is part of Reynolds’ education bill. Senate File 496.

Adding parents to teacher licensing board

The House Education Committee added one of its priority measures to Reynolds’ education bill ahead of the funnel deadline. Under the amendment, Iowa’s Board of Educational Examiners would have five members who are parents of Iowa students and who have no professional affiliation with schools. Senate File 496.

School library book restrictions

School books may not include graphic descriptions or visual depictions of sex acts under Reynolds’ education bill. The bill does not define what makes a sex scene “graphic.” Senate File 496.

Bills that are dead

Diversity, equity and inclusion

The House never debated a bill to prohibit Iowa’s three public universities from using state or private funds for a diversity, equity and inclusion office. Soon after the bill’s introduction, the Board of Regents paused any new diversity programs and promised a review of existing DEI work. Rep. Taylor Collins, the lead Republican on the bill, said the House GOP may consider the issue when proposing the state’s education budget. House File 616.

Regents report on social concepts

The House did not pass a bill to require Iowa’s state universities to submit a report to the Legislature about certain social concepts taught in education courses. The bill focuses on ways that teachers might approach diversity, equity and inclusion in their classrooms. House File 182.


Legislation signed into law

Medical malpractice caps

There are new limits on the amount of money Iowans can receive for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits. Noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering are now capped at $2 million in lawsuits involving hospitals and $1 million in lawsuits involving clinics or individual doctors. The cap will rise by 2.1% annually beginning in 2028 to account for inflation. Economic damages such as compensation for lost wages are not limited. House File 161.

Rural emergency hospitals

Iowa has a new designation for a “rural emergency hospital” that will operate an emergency room 24 hours a day, seven days a week but cannot provide inpatient services for stays exceeding 24 hours. The state-level designation will allow such hospitals to access additional federal funds in the hope of keeping them open. Senate File 75.

Bills still alive

Birth control expansion

Iowans 18 and older would be able to get birth control, including pills, birth control patches and vaginal rings, from a pharmacist without first seeing a doctor under a proposal supported by Reynolds. The Senate passed a version of the bill, and a House committee later added language requiring pharmacists to screen patients and Iowans to see a doctor within 15 months of receiving their first dose of birth control. Senate File 326.

Governor’s maternal health care bill

Reynolds’ wide-ranging health care bill would provide $2 million in funding to the More Options for Maternal Support Program for pregnancy resource centers that counsel against abortion. It would also provide paid parental leave to Iowa state employees and add grants for rural health care and OB-GYNs. House File 427/Senate File 324.

A patient room and an ultrasound machine at Women's Choice Center, an anti-abortion pregnancy resource center in Bettendorf that could receive state dollars under a bill making its way through the state Legislature.
A patient room and an ultrasound machine at Women's Choice Center, an anti-abortion pregnancy resource center in Bettendorf that could receive state dollars under a bill making its way through the state Legislature.

Bills that are dead

Parental leave

A standalone bill to give state employees up to four weeks of paid parental leave will not advance this year. Reynolds proposed the measure, which would have given four weeks of paid parental leave to employees who gave birth and one week of paid leave to employees who did not give birth. State employees who adopted a child would have received four weeks of paid leave. House File 578.

Religious beliefs of health care providers

A Senate proposal would have expanded the right for medical professionals to refuse procedures that don’t align with their religious beliefs or moral convictions. It did not pass out of the Senate. Senate File 297.


Bills still alive

Fentanyl sentences

A combined proposal from Reynolds and Attorney General Brenna Bird would increase criminal penalties for selling fentanyl or fentanyl-laced substances. If someone dies or is seriously injured from taking fentanyl, the people who made or distributed the drug would face more jail time and could be charged for that person’s murder. The bill would also increase the availability of opioid overdose reversal drugs. The House passed the bill, and the Senate placed it on the unfinished business calendar. House File 595/Senate File 508.

Guns in locked cars

Employers would be required to allow employees to keep guns and ammunition in their locked cars in a business’s parking lot. Iowans with valid permits would also be allowed to carry guns in their cars in school parking lots when dropping off or picking up a child from school. And insurance companies could not refuse to insure schools that choose to arm school staff. House File 654/Senate File 543.

No phone use while driving

Iowa lawmakers have failed for several years to pass a law prohibiting drivers from holding cellphones or other electronic devices while at the wheel. Under current law, drivers may not text and drive, but the law does not prohibit holding a phone to glance at a message. The bill passed the Senate and is eligible for debate on the House floor. Senate File 547.

Traffic enforcement cameras

Lawmakers are considering multiple options for regulating the placement of traffic enforcement cameras. A House bill would give the Department of Transportation the power to adopt statewide rules for placing traffic cameras on primary roads. Local governments would have to submit a “justification report” to the DOT if they want to put cameras on state and federal highways. A separate Senate bill would require local governments to get a permit from the DOT to use traffic cameras and put other regulations on how they can be used. House File 629/Senate File 489.

Victim restitution

Iowa is considering making victim restitution payments optional in cases when someone who is convicted of killing another person was also a victim of a crime like human trafficking. Lawmakers filed legislation in response to the case of Pieper Lewis, who was ordered to pay $150,000 to the estate of a man she killed who she said raped her repeatedly. The Senate placed its bill on the unfinished business calendar. Senate File 5

Bills that are dead

Death penalty

Iowa lawmakers will not advance a bill to apply the death penalty for adult defendants who are found guilty of kidnapping, sexually abusing and murdering a minor. The Senate advanced the bill through a committee, but never debated it on the floor. Senate File 357.

GPS stalking

The penalties for placing a GPS device to track another person without the person's consent would have increased under this bill, which never received a vote. House File 627.

Judicial nominations

The governor would have gained the power to appoint an additional person to the commissions that interview candidates for district court judges — giving Reynolds control over the majority of the panels' members. This bill would have aligned the district court panels with changes Republicans passed in 2019 altering the nominating commission that interviews candidates for the Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals. It passed the Senate in February but was never given a hearing in the House. Senate File 171.


Bills still alive

Banning social media for minors

Iowa minors would not be allowed to have social media accounts under a bill advanced Thursday by a House subcommittee. Lawmakers intend to amend the bill to allow teens to have social media accounts with a parent’s consent. The bill is not subject to the funnel deadline because it’s in the Ways and Means Committee. House File 526.

Child labor laws

Lawmakers are considering bills that would allow teens to work longer hours and in jobs that were previously prohibited, as long as those jobs are part of a work-study program. Republicans have amended the bills to address concerns, including removing provisions that would have shielded employers from liability if a student worker is injured on the job or someone else is injured because of their actions. House File 647/Senate File 542.

Foreign business farmland purchases

This bill would create new incentives for foreign businesses to buy large swaths of Iowa farmland for factories. The Iowa Economic Development Authority is pushing for the bill, arguing it will draw large employers to the state. House File 642.

Major League Baseball blackouts

A House bill aims to prohibit Major League Baseball’s blackouts in Iowa. The bill would say blackouts are forbidden for paying customers of services like MLB.tv. Currently, six MLB teams are blacked out in Iowa, meaning fans cannot watch most games with a subscription or when they are aired on national broadcasts. The bill is in the Ways and Means Committee, so it isn’t subject to the funnel. House File 577.

Baseball fans wait in the stands for the start of the Iowa Cubs' home opener against the New Orleans Baby Cakes on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Baseball fans wait in the stands for the start of the Iowa Cubs' home opener against the New Orleans Baby Cakes on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at Principal Park in Des Moines.

Public assistance benefits

Iowans receiving benefits like food and health care assistance would face new eligibility requirements to receive their benefits and would be subject to regular checks to make sure they still qualify, under this bill that passed the Iowa Senate. A separate Iowa House bill that would have banned Iowans from using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to buy pop or candy did not survive, although the ideas in the bill are part of negotiations as the two chambers seek to reach a final agreement. House File 613/Senate File 494.

Trucking lawsuits

Lawmakers are considering new limits on how much money Iowans could receive for pain and suffering in lawsuits over crashes with trucks and other commercial vehicles. The Senate passed a bill with a $2 million cap, which the House then raised to $5 million. Both versions of the bill also differ on which vehicles would be covered by the cap and on shielding employers from certain liability. The cap would not apply to economic damages, such as compensation for lost wages. Senate File 228.

Bills that are dead

Eminent domain

This House bill would have required companies seeking to build carbon-capture pipelines to reach deals to buy 90% of the land on their route before they could seek to use eminent domain. The Iowa House passed the bill, but the Senate did not schedule a subcommittee meeting to consider it. House File 565.

An Iowan holds up a sign at a rally at the Iowa Capitol on Feb. 21, 2023 in opposition to the use of eminent domain by carbon capture pipelines in Iowa.
An Iowan holds up a sign at a rally at the Iowa Capitol on Feb. 21, 2023 in opposition to the use of eminent domain by carbon capture pipelines in Iowa.


Iowa employers would have been required to use the federal E-Verify system to verify the eligibility of employees they hired under this bill, which never received a vote in the Senate. Senate File 108.


Bills still alive

ESG investing ban

Reynolds wants to make sure Iowa’s public funds are not invested based on environmental, social or governance factors — a practice that the governor’s lobbyist called “woke” investing. Both chambers have passed different versions of the legislation. The Senate placed the bill on its unfinished business calendar. Senate File 507.

Government reorganization

Lawmakers have passed Reynolds’ 1,500-page bill to reorganize Iowa’s government, shrink the number of cabinet-level agencies from 37 to 16 and give the governor more power over the appointment, firing and salary of top-level state employees. The bill awaits Reynolds' signature. Senate File 514.

Gubernatorial succession

This resolution would amend the Iowa Constitution to state that if the governor’s office becomes vacant, the lieutenant governor shall become governor and would have the power to appoint a lieutenant governor. Reynolds ascended to the governorship in 2017 and appointed Adam Gregg as her lieutenant governor, but questions and confusion arose about whether she had the legal authority to make that appointment. If passed, the resolution would be put before Iowans for a statewide vote. House Joint Resolution 3.

Limiting auditor’s powers

State Auditor Rob Sand would not be able to sue other statewide offices, or state executive branch agencies, departments, commissions or boards. Instead, disputes would be settled by a three-person arbitration panel. The bill would also prevent the state auditor’s office from accessing certain types of personal information unless the information was gathered in accordance with regular auditing standards or in the case of embezzlement or theft. Senate File 478.

Public records requests

Government entities that receive public records requests would be required to acknowledge the request, provide their contact information and send the person who made the request an estimate of the cost and the time it would take to grant the request. House File 350/Senate File 202.

Bills that are dead

Election recounts

A bill seeking to standardize the process for election recounts in Iowa will not move forward this year. Lawmakers began considering the effort after a high-profile congressional race in 2020 was decided by six votes. The bill would have required recounts to be conducted countywide, rather than precinct by precinct, and it would have changed the size of recount boards depending on the county’s population. Candidates would have had to choose whether they want the recount to be conducted by machine or by hand, and to use the same method in all counties. House File 470.

Election workers do a county-wide recount of ballots cast in Lucas County on Election Day on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Chariton.
Election workers do a county-wide recount of ballots cast in Lucas County on Election Day on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Chariton.

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at sgrubermil@registermedia.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

Katie Akin is a politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at kakin@registermedia.com or at 410-340-3440. Follow her on Twitter at @katie_akin.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Iowa Legislature: Which bills lived and died in 2nd funnel deadline?