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FIRST FUNNEL WEEK ENDS, FLOOR WORK AHEAD

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Each year, legislators turn their ideas into bills.  Hundreds of these bills are introduced, but only about 10% of them become law.  That's because making laws is a long process.  To keep things moving during our state's short legislative session, legislators have developed a series of deadlines to keep things moving.  
 
The first of these "funnel" deadlines was Friday, February 16.  Bills had to make it out of their assigned committees before that date.  Bills that failed to make the cut are done for the year (although they can always be revived as amendments to other bills).  Bills that spend money (appropriations) or involve taxes (ways & means) are exempt from deadlines, so they can be discussed at anytime.
 
Some of the most controversial bills died during this first funnel - death penalty, educational savings accounts (aka “school choice”), publicizing immigration status of people arrested, bans on new hog lots, constitutional amendments that allow Iowans to carry guns without permits, bible classes in schools, transgender bathrooms, state employee retirement (IPERS) changes, bottle bill expansion or elimination, and more.  Here are a few more examples of bills that did not make the funnel:
  • Eliminating the Department of Public Health.
  • Transferring mental health and disability services to the Department of Public Health.
  • Ending Medicaid managed care (MCO) contracts.
  • Pulling long term supports and services (LTSS) out of MCO contracts.
  • Establishing an MCO appeals process for supports intensity scale (SIS) scores.
  • Various measures that “get tough on MCOs."
  • Creating a home modification grant program for individuals with disabilities and older Iowans.
  • Mandating insurance coverage of pediatric hearing aides.
  • Requiring schools provide parents of children with hearing impairments with language and literacy milestones.
  • Directing telecoil hearing assistance device manufacturers give users detailed information about the device.
  • Making it a crime to mistreat or harm a service animal.
  • Making it a crime for a college employee to sexually exploit an adult student with a disability.
  • Requiring kids riding bikes wear helmets.
  • Creating a central database of direct caregivers, including experience and certification.
  • Increasing in the tobacco tax, including taxes on e-cigarettes (but this could be revived since it involves a tax).
  • Increasing the smoking age to 21.
  • Requiring insurers offer no-deductible prescription copay options. 
There is still a lot of controversy in the bills that survived the funnel - tax reform, sanctuary cities, “heartbeat” abortion ban, Medicaid work requirements, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, cutting back on the number of administrative rules, legalizing fantasy sports and sports betting, and more.  Here are some bills of interest that survived the funnel:
  • Requiring recipients of public assistance to work, go to school, or look for work (more on this in next article).
  • Protecting integrated health homes by prohibiting MCOs from taking them over and slowing the process down.
  • Making it a crime for someone to misrepresent themselves an owner or trainer of an assistive animal.
  • Allowing landlords to ban service animals if a person cannot show need and proof of proper training.
  • Enacting recommendations of the state’s Complex Needs (MH/DS) work group.
  • Requiring acuity-based updates and use of the psychiatric bed tracking system.
  • Requiring school districts integrate annual, evidence-based suicide prevention training.
  • Making change to Iowa’s prescription monitoring program to address opioid abuse.
  • Prohibiting insurers from switching a person's medications if they are doing well on them.
  • Allowing Medical Board to raise cannabidiol THC limit and add treatable conditions to list.
  • Directing the Board of Behavioral Science to license behavior analysts & assistants.
  • Directing a study of mandatory reporter training and certification (including dependent adult abuse).
  • Requiring DHS to figure out what to do about housing aging sex offenders.
  • Changing the name of the state's "Substitute Decision Maker" to the "Public Guardian."
  • Requiring insurers pay for services delivered via telehealth.
  • Allowing Farm Bureau to offer individual non-ACA compliant health plans.
While many of the MCO bills died in the funnel, legislators are still considering changes that would streamline administrative processes and set certain notificiation timelines for changes in law.  So keep talking to your legislators about this; they can make changes through amendments to other bills or by adding things to budget bills at the end of session.
 
Looking ahead, expect a lot of floor work and debate, as legislators prepare for the second funnel deadline on Friday, March 16 (just 25 days away).  By this time, bills must have been voted out of one chamber, and go through committee in the opposite chamber.  So, Senate bills need to be voted out of the Senate, and be approved by a House committee to stay alive after March 16.   House bills would need to be voted out of the House, and then out of Senate committee by that date.  After March 16, committee work will be done (except budget and tax committees).