Alive or dead?  An update on Iowa legislation after the first funnel

By: - February 22, 2020 7:00 am

The Iowa State Capitol (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

This week marked a key committee deadline in the Iowa Legislature known as the “funnel.”

Most policy bills needed approval by a committee in either the House or Senate to remain eligible for debate this year. This so-called “funnel” deadline helps lawmakers prioritize their work by eliminating from consideration lower-priority proposals or those that lack majority-party consensus.

There are broad exceptions to the funnel: Budget and tax bills are not subject to the deadline, nor are bills from the government oversight committees in the House and Senate. Bills sponsored by legislative leaders are also exempt from the funnel. Many of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ major initiatives, including the Invest in Iowa Act and Iowa Future Ready program are exempt from the funnel because they are appropriations or tax bills.

Bills also can be revived as amendments to other bills.

There will be a second funnel deadline in mid-March that requires most bills to pass either the House or Senate and get committee approval in the opposite chamber.

Here’s a list of funnel-eligible bills that either cleared the deadline or fell short.  



Expanding ethanol blends: House Study Bill 689 would start a new program to help finance changes at existing fuel pumps so they can handle 15 percent and higher ethanol blends. Reynolds has proposed $2 million in additional funding to expand the state’s renewable fuel industry.

Hemp:  A bill would prohibit the manufacture, possession or sale of hemp products intended for inhalation and ensure that Iowa’s law conforms with federal regulations by allowing  the sale of other hemp products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC.


Expand rural broadband:  Senate File 2262 contains a variety of policy changes aimed at expanding access to broadband service in rural Iowa.


Corporal punishment: Under Senate File 2288, school volunteers would be subject to the same regulations and exceptions that apply to school employees with regard to student corporal punishment 

Display of Declaration of Independence: Public and private schools would have to display a portion of the Declaration of Independence under Senate File 2285.

Diversity plans: Senate File 199 eliminates diversity plans  used by school districts that are trying to balance their student populations.

Physical education exemptions: Senate File 2253 provides that middle- or high-school principals could excuse students from physical education if they are taking show choir or marching band classes. 

Paying college athletes: College athletes could earn money from their name, face and likeness, despite NCAA rules prohibiting it.

Therapeutic classrooms: To address growing violence in Iowa’s classrooms, the House and Senate are considering allocating money for schools to create “therapeutic classrooms” that are designed to help students who struggle with behavioral issues.

Health care

Hospital Licensing Board: Senate Study Bill 3111 would eliminate the Iowa Hospital Licensing Board, which currently provides advice on proposed rules and regulations pertaining to the hospital industry.  

Medical cannabis:  Lawmakers are trying for a second year to update Iowa’s medical cannabis program. Senate File 2363 raises the limit on THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis from 3 percent to 25 grams per 90 days. Legislation in the House would raise the limit to only 4.5 grams per 90 days.

Vaccinations: Under Senate File 2302, infant death certificates would be required to state the date and type of the last immunizations the infant received.

Human Resources

Abortion clinics: House Study Bill 678 requires medical facilities that practice abortion to obtain a special $2,000 license. 

Fetal remains: House Study Bill 660 requires the issuance of a death certificate for a fetus in gestations of  12 weeks or more. It also requires a woman to complete a document saying she wants the fetus either cremated or buried.


EMTs carrying firearms: Senate File 2006 allows emergency medical technicians to obtain a professional permit to carry a firearm if they are joining SWAT-type tactical teams in responding to shootings or other situations.

Guns at work, school: Senate File 459 allows employees to keep a firearm locked and concealed in their vehicle on workplace property. Senate File 2224 allows gun owners with valid carry permits to transport weapons on school property outside the building, including parking lots and driveways.

Medical malpractice:  Senate Study Bill 3150 originally would have placed a $250,000 cap on all noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases, regardless of the severity of the injury. The Senate Judiciary Committee raised the limit to $750,000 on Wednesday.

State government

Abortion: Senate Joint Resolution 21 is a constitutional amendment stating abortions are not protected under the Iowa Constitution.

Apartment rent payments: Senate Study Bill 3178 would allow landlords to turn away potential renters who use federal payment vouchers such as Section 8. An amendment removed references to other sources of income in the original bill, including veterans’ benefits, Social Security, and alimony.

Assistance eligibility: Work requirements for public assistance:  “Able-bodied” Iowans receiving public assistance for nutrition or health care would have to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week to keep their benefits under Senate Study Bill 3158. The bill provides some exceptions for people with mental illness or disability, for people going through alcohol or drug rehabilitation, and for parents of children age 1 or younger. The bill includes provisions aimed at giving Iowa parents more time to transition from child-care assistance if their income grows beyond the program eligibility.

Bottle Bill: House Study Bill 507 would allow grocery stores to refer customers collecting bottle deposits to a redemption center within 10 miles of the store.

Canned cocktails:  Beer manufacturers would be allowed to possess liquor for the purpose of manufacturing canned cocktails under House File 2314 and its companion bill in the Senate.

Child care:   House File 2203 creates graduated eligibility for child-care assistance and is aimed at eliminating the “cliff effect” that penalizes parents who receive a raise or promotion. 

Daylight Saving Time:  Senate File 2282 would make Daylight Saving Time year-around in Iowa, which supporters say would save energy and help businesses. 

Felon voting:  Senate File 2129 would restrict restoration of voting rights for Iowans who have committed certain serious crimes and who still owe restitution to their victims. The bill would take effect if Iowa voters approve a constitutional amendment for automatic restoration of voting rights to former felons.

However, the House State Government committee on Thursday amended a broader voting bill, House Study Bill 545, to automatically restore voting rights for ex-felons who have served their time. Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, said he worked with Rep. Jon  Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs, to pass the legislation.

Flags on public buildings: Public buildings and school sites are only allowed to display the U.S., state, and POW flags, along with any flags that have been adopted by the governing agency.

Gambling:   House Study Bill 552 would shift more responsibility for law enforcement in casinos from the Division of Criminal Investigation to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and slash the number of DCI agents assigned to casinos.  

Puerto Rico: House File 2136 would offer grants to help Puerto Ricans with specific skills to help them relocate to Iowa and accept job offers. 

Ransomware attacks: Senate File 2080 prohibits state and public agencies from using public money to pay someone who is responsible for a ransomware attack.

Smoking age:   Senate File 2268 raises the minimum age for smoking and vaping from 18 to 21.

State insect:  The honeybee would be declared the state insect under Senate Joint Resolution 2004.


Adult changing stations:  The Department of Transportation would be charged with installing adult changing stations in rest areas under House File 2097.  These stations are designed for use by adults with disabilities who need assistance with diapering.

Bike lamps:  Bicycle riders would have to use front and rear lamps when it’s dark outside under Senate File 2090.  Current law requires only a rear reflector.

Cell phones:  Drivers would be able to use cell phones only in hands-free or voice-activated mode under Senate File 2248.  The bill expands the current law that bans sending or reading text messages while driving to any use of a cell phone. It provides exceptions for law enforcement and emergency response personnel.

Corn license plates:  The Iowa Department of Transportation would be required to issue special “Iowa Corn State” license plates under Senate File 2297.

Electric bicycles:  Low-power electric bicycles, known as e-bikes, would be classified like regular bicycles and allowed on bike trails under Senate File 2205.

Special driver’s license: Senate File 2094 authorizes the Iowa Department of Transportation to issue a license to minors between 14 and 18 years old who live or work on a farm. The license lets them drive up to 50 miles to assist with farm work. A similar bill from the House Agriculture Committee, House Study Bill 531, also advanced. 



Moratorium on animal confinement construction: Sen. Claire Celsi and co-sponsors this week withdrew Senate File 2254. The bill appeared to have no traction despite supprt from environmental groups. Companion bill House File 2127 wasn’t referred to a subcommittee.


Licensing head shops: Senate Study Bill 3007 would have required additional licenses for stores that sell tobacco pipes. It would have also required warning signs in front of edible CBD stating it is not approved by the FDA.


Grading bias: Senate File 2057 would have allowed students who felt wrongly graded because of political bias to go through an appeals process.

LGBT instruction: House File 2201 would have required schools to inform parents when topics surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity were brought up.

Transgender athletes: House File 2202 would have required students to play in sports based off their biological sex.

Vaccine exemptions: House File 2139 would have required schools to provide information about how families can get vaccinations. 

Health care 

Midwife licensure: House Study Bill 522 would have required midwives to obtain a professional license to practice and would have created a regulatory board to oversee the profession.

Vaccines: Senate File 2174 would have required parents’ written permission before a student is vaccinated at school. Lawmakers withdrew the bill after learning that state and federal education officials already enforce regulations on the matter.

Vaping: Senate Study Bill 3052, promoted by the Iowa Department of Public Health, would have prohibited vaping in the same public places where smoking is now banned:  offices, restaurants, bars, and outdoor entertainment venues. 


Religious freedom:   Senate File 508 would include the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Iowa law.  The act would set a higher court standard for consideration of cases in which the government is alleged to have burdened a person’s exercise of religion. 

State government

Campaign finance:  Senate File 2078 would ban political party spending in nonpartisan local government elections.

Conversion therapy: Measures to prohibit licensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy failed to move forward in the House and Senate.


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