Monday, March 16, 2009

A Funnel Thing Happened...

The legislative process in Iowa continues to be a daunting proposition to understand as bills are killed before they can be voted on by the full body. Below is a summary of those items that are DOA (and that doesn't mean "Department of Aging") and those that are Stayin' Alive.

According to the Des Moines Register:

ALIVE

These bills survived today's funnel deadline and will see more debate.

Jobs and economy:

WORKERS' CHOICE OF DOCTOR: Iowans injured on the job could choose their own doctor in workers' compensation cases. Senate File 155.

PREVAILING WAGE: Workers on certain government construction projects would see government-set standards for wages and benefits. House File 333.

BARGAINING: Unions representing public employees could negotiate more items. This bill could restore much of what Culver vetoed last year; Culver said he believes a compromise may be reached. House Study Bill 269.
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MENTAL HEALTH INSURANCE: Smaller businesses that provide health insurance for their workers would have to provide coverage for mental health conditions, including alcohol and drug abuse treatment. Senate File 16.

MASS LAYOFFS: Iowa companies that lay off 25 or more would have to give workers 30 days' notice. House File 681.

WEB BUSINESS: There would be a lower investment threshold for Microsoft and other Web portal businesses that expand or locate in Iowa to get tax breaks. Senate File 302.

PUPPY MILLS: The state could inspect federally licensed dog breeders in Iowa to better deal with abuse and neglect. House File 486.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES: A technical bill on the Public Employment Relations Board. This is the bill that was amended last year to contain open-scope bargaining legislation. House Study Bill 269.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Benefits to the unemployed would be expanded for six months if they enter a training program. House File 623.

IOWA VALUES: Various business financial assistance programs would be changed. House File 656.

MORTGAGES: To help keep people in their homes, this bill would deal with those facing bank foreclosure. House Study Bill 170.

Environment, recreation, transportation:

CAR EMISSIONS: Most Iowa passenger vehicles would have emissions standards beginning with the 2011 model year to limit greenhouse gases. House File 422.

UNINSURED MOTORISTS: Coverage in case of accidents involving uninsured or underinsured motorists would be increased. Senate File 321.

BIODIESEL: Owners of diesel vehicles filling up in Iowa would be required to use biodiesel. Senate File 294.

NO BURNING: All cities would have to enact burn bans. House File 627.

HUNTING FEES: Out-of-state visitors would be charged more to hunt and fish in Iowa. Senate File 375.

BICYCLE RIGHTS: Bicyclists would have new protections, such as full use of a lane. Senate File 117.

DRUNKEN BOATING: Operators of motorboats, sailboats and personal watercraft would be considered intoxicated when their blood-alcohol level is .08, not .10. Senate File 3.

CONSUMER FRAUD: Iowa's 3,000-plus annual fraud victims could take individual court action. Senate Study Bill 178.

WAGE DISCRIMINATION: Penalties would be stiffer for businesses that violate the state's wage discrimination law. Senate File 137.

COLD MEDICINE TRACKING: Anyone who buys cold medicine that contains pseudoephedrine would have to sign an electronic logbook at the pharmacy so that Iowa law enforcement officials could track multiple purchases. Senate File 104.

GUNS: Sheriffs would have to say in writing why they denied a gun permit. House File 193.

AGRIPROCESSORS: Business owners would face steeper penalties for child labor law violations. House File 618.

INDECENT: People caught publicly masturbating could be charged even if the victim doesn't see genitals. House File 657.

PRIVATE INFORMATION: Private information would be redacted from recorders' records. House File 506.

PORNOGRAPHY: Adults who intentionally expose children to obscene images that could cause them harm would be guilty of child abuse. Senate File 271.

Government issues:

HUMAN RIGHTS: The state Department of Human Rights would undergo a major reorganization, including splitting it into two divisions: ethnic minorities and women, and disabilities. Senate Study Bill 1304.

CIVIL RIGHTS SUBPOENAS: The civil rights commission would have extra subpoena power to investigate unfair or discriminatory practices. Senate File 96.

FLOOD INSURANCE: Cities and counties with areas located in federally designated flood areas would be required to participate in national flood insurance. House Study Bill 181.

OPEN RECORDS: Loopholes in Iowa's open records law would be closed. Senate File 282. House Study Bill 234.

SEARCHABLE BUDGET: Would create a searchable database on the state budget. House File 74.

TAX: Cities that collect more sales tax than expected would have to tell voters how they spend it. House File 111.

Education, children and families:

COLLEGE COSTS: A judge would be allowed to order parents to pay for college costs even if the parents were never married. Senate File 113.

SCHOOL MERGERS: A task force would study merging school districts. House File 265.

ATHLETES AND OPEN ENROLLMENT: High school students who open enroll would be ineligible to participate in varsity sports for six months. House File 495.

SCHOOL DROPOUT AGE: Teens could no longer drop out of high school at 16. House File 259.

Health:

PROSTHETICS: Insurance companies could not deny medically necessary prosthetic devices. House File 311.

HEALTH INSURANCE: Employees of nonprofits and small businesses could purchase the same health care coverage as state workers. Coverage for children and other issues are part of this bill. Senate File 48.

Elder Iowans:

NEW NAME FOR ELDER AFFAIRS: The Iowa Department of Elder Affairs would be renamed the Iowa Department on Aging. Senate File 204.

NURSING HOME TAX: A nursing facility provider tax will be created so that the state can put it in a fund that can be used to draw down federal money. Senate Study Bill 1179.

ABUSE AND INJURIES: Dependent adults would have more protections from abuse that doesn't result in physical injury. Senate Study Bill 1206.

Veterans

PREFERENCE FOR VETERANS: Veterans would get preferential hiring for government jobs. House File 522.

INCENTIVES: Veterans who served at least 12 months of active duty would get cash incentives up to $5,000 for working in jobs with a shortage of skilled workers. Senate File 250.

Elections:

ELECTIONS: Polls for city elections could open at noon. House File 450.

CAMPAIGN SALARIES: Candidates could not use campaign cash to pay themselves, spouses or children. Senate File 50.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS: The popular vote, rather than the Electoral College, would decide presidential elections. No matter how the vote turns out in Iowa, the state's electoral votes would go to the candidate winning the national popular vote. Senate File 227.

Alcohol-related

BEER AT WINERIES: Iowa wineries that host weddings and other functions could sell beer if they buy it from a wholesaler. Senate File 188.


DEAD

These bills failed to get enough votes to pass today's deadline, but no bill is ever truly dead until the session ends. Budget and tax bills are exempt from the funnel.

Jobs and economy:

FAIR SHARE: Unions could negotiate for the right to charge fees to nonunion workers covered by collective bargaining. This technically failed to meet this year's deadline, but Democratic leaders have an interest in resurrecting it House File 555.

PAYDAY LOANS: The interest rate would be capped at 36 percent for payday loans, which are based simply on a borrower's paycheck without proof of ability to pay. Advocates are pushing for it to re-emerge in a tax bill. House File 288.

MINIMUM WAGE: Iowa's hourly minimum wage would increase the same percentage every year as the increase in federal Social Security. House File 11.

Environment, recreation, transportation:

DISTRACTED DRIVERS: Drivers in Iowa would face a new penalty if they get into an accident while texting, watching TV or playing with a pet. Senate Study Bill 1217.

HANDS-FREE CELL PHONES: Drivers couldn't talk on a cell phone without a hands-free device. House File 9.

GAS TAX: State tax on gas and diesel fuel would go up, and the money would go to road and bridge repairs. Senate Study Bill 1182.

Justice:

PAROLE FOR YOUNG CRIMINALS: Iowans serving a life sentence for a crime committed while a minor could file for a sentence review after 15 years. House File 43.

Government issues:

ENGLISH LANGUAGE: An Iowa law that declares English as the state's official language would be repealed. House File 14.

HOG LOTS: Cities could regulate the siting of certain confinement feeding operation structures in unincorporated areas within two miles of city limits. Senate Study Bill 1161.

Education, children and families:

SCHOOL YEAR: The 180-day school calendar would be replaced with 990 hours of instructional school time at 5.5 hours per day for grades 1-6 and 1,080 hours of instructional time for grades 7-12. House File 26.

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: Students who fall behind their grade proficiency in reading or math wouldn't be able to graduate to the next level. House File 129.

GAY MARRIAGE: The marriage law would be gender neutral. The words husband and wife would be replaced with "spouse." Senate File 353.

LEAVING KIDS IN THE CAR: Leaving a child unattended in a car would be a simple misdemeanor with a $100 fine. House File 110.

SCHOOL FIELD TRIPS: Schools would be allowed to charge fees for field trips, but must waive them for low-income families. Senate File 274.

Health:

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Restricted marijuana use would be legal in Iowa for pain and nausea relief. Senate File 293.

AUTISM: Treatment of autism spectrum disorders must be covered by health insurance for anyone under 21. Senate File 1.

Elder Iowans:

SILVER ALERT: A "silver alert" program would be created to help locate missing people with cognitive impairments, such as elderly people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. House File 369.

REPORTING HEALTH FACILITY PROBLEMS: When health care facilities commit a violation that puts someone in harm of danger or death, the Department of Inspections and Appeals would have to report those to the Legislature and governor. House File 512.

Veterans

VETERANS' PAYMENTS: Veterans' service-connected disability compensation could not be used to calculate child support or as assets in a divorce case. House File 170.

VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS: Veterans organizations wouldn't have to pay anything for a class A liquor license, regardless of how much liquor they sell. House File 66.

Elections:

CAMPAIGNING: Special interest groups couldn't distribute campaign material advocating for a certain candidate without that candidate's consent. House File 229.

Alcohol-related:

DISTILLERY SALES: Iowa distilleries could sell their products to visitors. Senate File 210.

Immigration:

STATUS DATABASE: A database would provide information to employers or state agencies on the immigration status or citizenship of a person. House File 109.

Smoking:

CASINO SMOKING: Smokers could no longer light up on the gambling floors of state-regulated casinos. House File 6.

OUTDOOR BAR SMOKING: Smoking would be allowed in outdoor areas of bars and restaurants. House File 174.

Missing in action on this list is the Senate Agriculture Committee caving in to the big-money interests of livestock commodity groups like the Iowa Pork Producers when they passed a bill (SF 308) that would undercut the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) rulemaking process to restrict manure application on frozen ground.

Groups including Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Iowa Environmental Council, Des Moines Water Works, Iowa Farmer's Union, Sierra Club, and the Department of Natural Resources strongly opposed Senator Kibbie's bill and called on him to put our health and water quality above the interest of the factory farm industry by allowing the DNR to finish their rulemaking process.

On Senate File 308 and companion bill House File 574, CCI Executive Director Hugh Espey said, "These so-called attempts to regulate manure application on frozen ground are so weak and full of loopholes that they will lead to more water pollution caused by factory farms. For all intents and purposes, this bill stops DNR from taking strong action to protect our waterways. It's an excellent example of our elected officials kow-towing to corporate interests at the expense of the common good. Today's vote by the Senate Agriculture Committee is a slap in the face to everyone fighting for clean water."

Of course, bills can be resurrected and nothing is final until My 10th when the legislature closes it session.
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1 comment:

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