Second in a series on under-covered stories from the Iowa legislature’s 2023 session.
During the seven years of the Iowa GOP trifecta, the majority party has often enacted significant public policy through eleventh-hour appropriations bills. Just before adjourning in 2019, Republicans amended spending bills to change the judicial selection process, restrict medical care for transgender Iowans on Medicaid, and block Planned Parenthood from receiving sex education grants.
A lengthy amendment to a budget bill approved in the closing hours of the 2020 session made it harder for Iowans to vote by mail and sought to restrict some companies from bidding on electric transmission lines projects.
The Iowa Supreme Court sent the legislature a message in March, blocking the 2020 provision on transmission lines, on the grounds that it was likely passed through unconstitutional “logrolling.”
Republican legislators weren’t pleased with the ruling known as LS Power, but seem to have adapted to it. This year’s “standings” appropriations bill was relatively short and focused on spending and code corrections—a far cry from the usual “Christmas tree” featuring unrelated policy items from lawmakers’ wish lists.
Nevertheless, many surprises lurked in other bills that allocated spending for fiscal year 2024, which begins on July 1.
This post focuses on seven provisions that appeared in budget bill amendments published shortly before Iowa House or Senate debate. Most of this policy language never appeared in a stand-alone bill, allowing Republicans to avoid the scrutiny that comes with subcommittee and committee discussions. Democratic legislators had little time to review the proposed budgets before votes on final passage, which mostly fell along party lines.Continue Reading...