After second legislative funnel, which bills still have a chance?

Center Focus

After second legislative funnel, which bills still have a chance?


We’ve had a busy legislative session! Following the second legislative funnel, we have a better idea of which bills have a chance of making it to the Governor’s desk. Here are important updates regarding bills we’ve highlighted over the past months:

House and Senate Republicans finally agreed on a defunding bill for the current fiscal year (FY 18). That bill, currently headed to the Governor, makes net cuts of $25 million, with Regent universities and community colleges taking big hits. The Department of Education sees cuts of $1.16 million; Department of Human Services, $4.3 million; and the Department of Public Health, $625,000. It will be up to department directors to decide how to enact these cuts, with fewer than 100 days remaining in the fiscal year. The bill also cuts per diem days—days for which legislators are reimbursed for expenses—from 100 to 85. The 85th day of session is April 3.

K-12 funding
Gov. Reynolds signed a K-12 funding bill giving Iowa school districts a one percent increase in supplemental state aid on March 9. This increase translates to an additional $67 per student ($6,664 to $6,731 for FY 2019). Unfortunately, that is far below what is needed to keep up with inflation or to change our pattern of underfunding public schools.

Medicaid MCO reporting requirements
In its original form this bill would have eliminated many of the reporting requirements—including data on prenatal and birth outcomes and chronic care management—for the managed care organizations administering the state's Medicaid program. Amendments kept the reporting requirements intact, and the Center now supports the bill. It passed in the House on March 8 and was referred to the Senate appropriations committee.

Medicaid work requirements
We continue to watch two bills that would implement unnecessary barriers and make it harder for Iowans to access services to meet their basic needs. HF 2428 would direct the Department of Human Services to seek a federal waiver that would allow Iowa to implement work requirements for adults covered by Medicaid expansion. SF 2370 would implement work requirements, drug testing and other restrictions for public assistance programs, including Medicaid and SNAP. Neither bill survived the second funnel. CFPC hopes they remain “dead” and do not come back.

Children’s mental health
The Children’s Mental Health Advisory Committee made its recommendations for a children’s mental health system to the HHS Appropriations committee at the end of February, after the first funnel. Since the recommendations missed that procedural deadline, there is not currently a policy bill specific to the children’s mental health system. CFPC will be looking for children’s mental health language to be included in the HHS appropriations bill.

Adult mental health
The adult mental health bill was passed by both chambers and is headed to the Governor’s desk. This policy bill outlines important strategies to bolster services available statewide, but does not include any appropriations. CFPC is pleased that the legislature is working to address Iowa’s mental health system, but hopes that the legislature follows through by providing sufficient funding for the policy bill.

Individual health insurance market
CFPC has significant concerns with the potential impact of two bills on Iowa’s individual market. One would allow small employers to join together to buy health insurance for their employees that don’t meet Affordable Care Act rules. It passed the Senate on March 5 and the House on March 21, with amendment. Another would allow Farm Bureau and Wellmark to offer health benefit plans that are “deemed not to be insurance” and therefore do not have to comply with state and federal regulations. It passed the Senate March 7 and was placed on the House’s unfinished business calendar, where it is still eligible for debate.

Suicide prevention
This bill passed the Senate on March 21 and is headed to the Governor’s desk. It requires school personnel to receive training in suicide prevention, identification of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and strategies to mitigate toxic stress. CFPC had hoped to see the incorporation of trauma-informed care training in this bill, but supports this as an important step in equipping school personnel with information and tools to address the mental health needs of their students.

Voluntary diversity plans
SF 270 would have banned school districts with a voluntary diversity plans from making open enrollment decisions based on those plans. It did not past the second funnel. According to Legislative Service Agency, the Des Moines schools alone would have lost over $1.2 million as a result. SF 270 would have had the “unintended” consequence of further segregating schools by race, as some higher-income white families would choose to move their child out of their local school districts.

Sales tax exemption for food banks and food pantries
HF 2459 and SF 2385 would exempt from sales tax good and services purchased by nonprofit food banks and food pantries, allowing these organizations to do more for the communities they serve. Both were referred to the Ways and Means committees and are therefore exempt from the funnel deadlines. No subcommittees have yet been scheduled on either bill.

03/23/2018 3:23 PM |Add a comment
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