Members of the Iowa House of Representatives worked diligently throughout the legislative session to complete work on policy and budget bills by the 100th day of session, which was April 19. The House has passed nine budget bills, however, the Iowa Senate must act on these bills. As a result, House members spent Week 15 of the 2022 legislative session “on call.” There was no House debate as we continue to wait for the Senate to send us budget bills.
The House and the Senate must agree on budget bills before we can adjourn for the final time this session. Here’s a recap of Iowans’ priorities that have been addressed in budget bills already passed by the House:
- Safety. Iowa House members built upon last year’s historic increases for the Department of Corrections and Department of Public Safety with this year’s Justice Systems budget bill, House File 2559. This bill increases the state prison system’s appropriation by $7.1 million. Funding for the Iowa State Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies increases by $3.1 million.
- Biofuels. The House passed the policy bill in early February and increased state funding for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Fund in the Agriculture & Natural Resources budget bill, House File 2560.
- Affordable Housing. House File 2564, the Economic Development budget bill, includes a new effort to rehabilitate existing housing stock in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. This bill invests $1.5 million of state funds in rehabbing existing homes.
- Mental Health. This year’s Health and Human Services budget bill, House File 2578, focuses on ways to expand access to mental health care in Iowa hospitals. The bill establishes daily coverage rates for higher-end psychiatric care. The adoption of these new rates would serve as an incentive for local hospitals to maintain or establish mental health units to serve patients locally.
- Workforce Education. The Education appropriations bill, House File 2575, takes a new approach to encouraging students at Iowa’s three state universities to pursue high-demand professions and to stay in Iowa upon graduation. The bill funds $5,000/year grants for juniors and seniors getting degrees in high need jobs. The grants would be paid by semester with the last payment being made after the student has worked for one year in Iowa.
- Workforce Attraction. The Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund appropriations bill, House File 2579, doubles the Community Attractions and Tourism program (CAT). It triples funding for infrastructure projects at Iowa’s state parks. In addition, it provides $12 million to the Sports Tourism Fund to bring more permanent attractions to the state.
Congratulations to TRI Clear Lake for receiving a 2022 Sports Tourism grant! This year’s triathlon event will be held May 28. The $24,500 grant will help implement new marketing tactics including targeted and remarketing display ads, mobile location lookback and YouTube TrueView.
The 100th day of session marked the last day of work for my clerk Abbey Ross, a junior in Ag Business at Iowa State University. With her can-do attitude and pleasing personality, I’m really going to miss working with Abbey. She has been invaluable this session, from ensuring I had what was needed to chair a subcommittee to helping me research issues.