Second Funnel Week
The 12th week of the first session of a general assembly is the second funnel week. The funnel process narrows the focus to bills that have a legitimate shot of becoming law. To stay alive for further consideration, bills that originated in the House must have passed the House and also passed out of a Senate committee. The same would be for bills that originated in the Senate, as they would need to have passed the Senate and passed out of a House committee. Bills that come from Ways and Means (revenue) or Appropriations (spending) are exempt from the funnel requirements.
During this funnel week there was just one day of debate to get the last priority policy bills passed out of the House. So far this session, 221 bills have been passed by the House, with just a few of them having originated in the Senate. The Senate has passed 128 bills. With just one day of debate, the rest of the time was reserved for committee work, and my committees were all caught up so there wasn’t much to do. One veteran representative said this was the slowest second funnel week he has experienced.
The House has been focused this session on designing policy to improve access to quality child care all across the state. We know there is not one single solution to this complex issue. That’s why the House passed 10 bills to address the issue through a multipronged approach.
Together, these bills increase the child care workforce, increase provider rates to maintain existing child care facilities, provide incentives to develop new child care facilities, and help hardworking families afford the high cost of child care. While some of these bills did not survive the funnel in the Senate, many are still alive. The governor has indicated that she shares the House’s priority in increasing access to affordable, quality child care.
It’s vital for our state’s success that these bills pass the Senate so they can be signed by the governor and become law. Your help is needed to contact our senators to encourage them to pass the legislation out of the Senate.
This week, the Iowa House unanimously passed HF 848, the governor’s broadband grant program bill. The Iowa House has made it a priority to not just increase broadband speeds, but make sure Iowans in “broadband deserts” get connected to broadband Internet. As more people continue to work remotely, and telehealth capabilities continue to expand, what was once seen as a luxury has now become a necessity.
This bill sets a framework for aggressively building out Iowa’s broadband infrastructure, but will have little effect without significant financial investment, which House Republicans are hoping to pass later this session. The governor has proposed an investment of $450 million over three years. During the next month, as the state budget becomes a greater focus of the session, the House will determine a level of funding that representatives feel comfortable with and still fund other priorities.
Governor’s Biofuel Bill
This week, the Iowa House Ways and Means committee passed HSB 185, a bill to increase access to ethanol and biodiesel in Iowa. The goal of this legislation is to support an Iowa industry critical to our state’s economic success. In its current form, the bill invests significantly in Iowa’s renewable fuel infrastructure program, boosts farm income, reduces emissions, and expands access to ethanol at the pump.
There have been concerns that this bill would limit access to non-ethanol fuel that many like to use in small engines and old vehicles. Some changes have been made to address these concerns. An exciting part of the bill would increase the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Fund (RFIF) from $3 million to $10 million per year. The RFIR supports improving fuel delivery infrastructure at retail outlets so that higher blends of ethanol can be sold. The bill would prioritize the incentives for retailers that have less than 10 locations. Conversations on the bill’s final form are ongoing.
This week, I enjoyed having my wife, Tammy, and daughter, Kameryn, spend some time at the Capitol. We explored some of the interesting places like the dome above the rotunda, the tunnels between the Capitol and surrounding state government buildings, and sat in on an Appropriations committee meeting that voted on and passed the butchery innovation bill. Kameryn lead the Pledge of Allegiance to open the legislative day on Wednesday and met Governor Reynolds. We visited about the importance of moving the child care legislation, and Kameryn invited the governor to Northeast Iowa to visit the daycare where she works.
On Tuesday, it was nice to host Buckley Necker, the Buchanan County Republican chair, at the Capitol. County chairs from across the state were meeting in Des Moines and spent some time visiting with legislators. Buckley’s first year as county chair was in 2020, and he did a fabulous job keeping things organized and moving forward during an election year.
Rural Resiliency Forum
On Thursday, April 8, from 12 to 1 p.m., I will be participating in a rural resiliency forum hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs. This will be a virtual event and open to the community. I am looking forward to conversation about different ways we can grow rural Iowa. To learn more about the event and register to participate, please follow the link: https://www.cfra.org/news-release/virtual-rural-resiliency-forum-feature-rep-ingels. The event link can also be found on my Facebook page.