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Public Policy Update: Legislators Head into Important Deadline Week

March 11, 2024 | Public Policy

State Policy Update

Committee hearings and floor debate were the focus of this week as legislators head into next week’s second and final funnel of the session. Any bills that do not pass both chambers by March 15 are no longer eligible to become law this year unless they are tax and spending bills, have passed both chambers with differing language, or are on the unfinished business calendar.

The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), a non-partisan committee whose purpose is to periodically provide state revenue estimates, also meets on March 15 to provide the legislature with the most recent Fiscal Year 2025 estimate. The legislature will begin to develop the FY25 budget following the REC meeting, and floor debate work will pick up in both chambers to consider bills that survived the final funnel. 

The Economic Alliance continues to focus on those bills still in play that relate to our 2024 public policy agenda.

Expanding Work-Based Learning

The Governor’s Work-based Learning bill (SF2260/HF2516) expands work-based learning opportunities, creates a workforce opportunity fund, makes changes to student teaching requirements, and adds eligibility requirements for the last dollar scholarship program. We support the continuation of expanding work-based learning programs and make the existing ones more efficient, including Last Dollar Scholar, adding work-based learning to career and technical education classes that 9-12 schools are required to offer, and allowing WBL when school is not in session. Status: Senate bill passed out of Appropriations and Workforce subcommittees. House bill passed out of Appropriations and Labor & Workforce subcommittees.

Increasing Housing Options

HF2420 increases the caps for the Workforce Housing Tax Incentive program. We support increasing the cap to $50 million, and the allocation for small cities to $25 million. Status: Passed out of a House subcommittee on Economic Growth & Technology this week.

Economic Development Competitiveness

The “Major Economic Growth Attraction Program” or “MEGA Program” legislation (SF574) would create a fund for Iowa to compete for large-scale economic development projects that provide high-paying jobs and capital investment. We support this legislation. Click here to read what it would mean for Iowa. Status: Passed the Senate last session on a 45-2 vote. Amended and passed the House on 3/6. Now returns to the Senate.

Promoting Predictable & Fair Taxes

  • There are currently three major tax-related bills being considered this session. As they work their way through the legislative process, we will continue to call for tax structures that are simple, predictable, and promote fairness and fiscal responsibility.
    • The Governor’s bill (SF2398/HSB543) calls for close to $3.8 billion in tax cuts over the next five years, lowers personal income tax to a flat 3.65% to go into effect in 2024 and effective 2025, the rate drops to 3.5%. Status: Awaits full Committee action in both Chambers. Read the Fiscal Note.
    • The Senate has introduced two tax bills. SSB3141/HSB720 is the Income Tax Elimination bill that would phase down the individual income tax to a flat 3.65% by Tax Year ‘26, lower Iowa’s corporate income tax to 4.9% using the current method adopted 2022 and transition the Tax Relief Fund to a trust fund with revenues generated used to gradually eliminate individual income taxes. Status: Assigned to Ways & Means subcommittees in both Chambers earlier this month. 
    • The second Senate bill (SJR2003/HSB721) proposes a constitutional amendment to require 2/3 approval of both the Senate and House to increase tax rates. Status: Assigned to Ways & Means subcommittees in Senate. Passed out of House Ways & Means subcommittee on 3/6.

Protecting Employers

SF108 is the employment verification (e-verify) bill that requires employers to utilize the federal E-Verify database to confirm that new hires are authorized to work in the U.S. and provides penalties for employers. We continue to oppose the legislation. Status: Passed the Senate 2/28. Referred to Senate Workforce Committee on 3/5. Judiciary Committee at the end of January. The House version, HSB105, was tabled until a future meeting after a subcommittee heard concerns from employer groups on the efficiency of the database.

Passenger Rail Across Iowa

HF591/SF2315 enacts the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact to develop intercity passenger and high-speed rail traffic and allows the state to join the existing compact. We support this legislation as it is the first step in Iowa seeing passenger rail from the Quad Cities, through Iowa City and Des Moines, to Council Bluffs. Status: Passed House on 2/19. Awaits action in Senate Transportation Committee.

Child Care Availability

We support child care facilities paying less in property taxes so they can use those dollars toward other efforts, like workforce wages. SSB3181/HF2655 designates child care facilities as residential property to decrease property tax costs. This language is also included in the Governor’s tax proposal. Status: Awaits action in House and Senate Ways & Means Committees.

Community Attraction & Livability Efforts

SF2394 Creates an Iowa Major Events Tourism program to give financial assistance to groups for major tourism events that have a measurable economic impact. Does not allow an entity receiving money from this fund to receive funds from the Sports Tourism fund. Status: Passed out of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on 2/27.

ICR Legislative Night

A 25-year tradition took place again this week when the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and Greater Iowa City, Inc. joined forces with our regional partners for our annual advocacy trip to the Capitol. We held a meeting with Lt. Governor Adam Gregg to discuss current policy issues important to our members including work-based learning, housing and quality of life attraction efforts. The day capped off with a reception at Big Grove Des Moines to thank legislators for their service and support of our issues. Once again, kolaches straight from the Czech Village proved a popular part of our visit. Thank you to ITC Midwest and BrownWinnick Law Firm for sponsoring!

Brown Winick