Iowa House Appropriations Committee passes first budget bill

The Iowa House Appropriations Committee passed House Study Bill 1 on January 12, by a party-line vote of 15 to 10. Republicans call the bill the “Taxpayers First Act” and claim it would save the state more than $500 million over three years, while refunding some money to taxpayers and allocating an extra $25 million for mental health services over the next 18 months. As Bleeding Heartland discussed here, the potential savings in the current budget year are far smaller. The Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate is unlikely to approve some of the big-ticket spending cuts, such as complete elimination of the voluntary preschool program for four-year-olds. The full text of the bill as introduced is here (pdf file). The Legislative Services Agency analysis of how much various provisions would cost or save is here (pdf file).

Looking through the lobbyist declarations on HSB 1, so far only Iowans for Tax Relief, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Washington-based 501(c)4 group American Principles in Action have declared support for it. The bill’s opponents include the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, the Iowa Association of School Boards, the Iowa chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, major labor unions (AFSCME and the Iowa State Education Association), the State Bar Association, and many organizations that advocate for public health and environmental causes. Numerous lobbyists haven’t taken a position on the bill; influential organizations still undecided include the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, the League of Cities, the State Association of Counties, the Iowa Medical Society, the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce, the Iowa Chamber Alliance, and the American Association of Retired Persons.

UPDATE: The “deappropriations” bill was renamed House File 45. Click here for a bill summary.

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  • Mostly the usual suspects in their respective corners

    The Farm Bureau is an interesting group, them staying as neutral as they can on most issues is probably good for them.

    I hate to go way off topic, but I am a little worried about my State Senator Gene Fraise being the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.  Gene’s a good man and I respect and vote for him, but I just worry that with all this crap flying around about the Iowa State Supreme Court that Gene hasn’t been following the issue closing enough to go into great detail about it.    Gene’s a farmer with ties to the realty industry and I never understood why he sat on the Judiciary Committee.

    • I liked what he said

      about asking more questions before running with whatever new bill some advocacy group is pushing:

      Fraise said he’s most looking forward to changing the attitude on the Judiciary Committee. He said in years past – Fraise has served on the Judiciary Committee for 25 years, since he first went to the state Capitol – the committee has seemed to be focused on getting as many bills through as possible. Fraise said he wants to turn from a focus on quantity to a focus on quality.

      Fraise said in his time on the Judiciary Committee the Iowa Code book has doubled – which he acknowledged was due in part to myriad new laws on drugs, but he said it probably doesn’t need to get too much bigger.

      He said he’s already received some organizations’ – including the National Rifle Association and the American Bar Association – requests for legislation but he’s made them aware he’s going to slow the train down and look at whether bills need passing before doing so.

      He said in the past he’s asked questions like, “Do we really need this and who really needs it?” And a couple times, organizations’ don’t know the answer to those simple questions.

      “So, why are we doing it? So, that’ll be my attitude going into it,” Fraise said.