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It seems like the Iowa Legislature just started it's work, but with the shortened 90-day schedule, legislators are now one-third of the way through the session.  The fast pace of the past two weeks certainly seems to show legislative leaders mean business and want to wrap things up by the end of March or early in April. April 4 is their goal for getting done this year.
To be done, legislators will need to get an early start on budgets, which they typically do not start putting together until mid-March.  However, this year budget negotiations are already happening at both the leadership and committee levels.  Budget subcommittee chairs are working together and with their leaders to put together their budgets.  The Transportation Budget (SF 2130) is the first out of the gate, having passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and ready for floor debate ("floor debate" is when all Senators discuss and vote on a bill).

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ADVOCATES?  If you care about funding for a project, program, or service, now is the time to start talking to your legislators about it.  Even if your legislator is not on the right committee, you can always ask them to talk to other legislators they know that do serve on the committee making decisions.  Don't wait until March to talk about funding, or it may be too late.  You can email your legislator (click here to use our Action Center to find and email your legislator), or go to a local forum and talk to them in person (click here for list).

While budgets are being developed, most legislators are working hard on a more immediate deadline.  The first "funnel" is just two weeks away on Friday, February 21.  This is the first cut-off date for bills.  By that date, any bill not dealing with taxes or spending will have to be voted out of committee to stay alive for the session. So the typical day at the Capitol these days means 15-25 full committee meetings and 40-60 subcommittee meetings. While all meetings are open to the public, you will have to check the calendars regularly to know when and where things will be, as new meetings are added every hour. 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ADVOCATES?  There are now 544 bills that have been introduced this session, not counting all the bills held over from last year. Some of these bills are one page long, and some are nearly one hundred pages long.  It is very hard for your legislators to keep on top of all the bills out there, and which ones are important to the people they represent.  If you see a bill that you think is good (or bad) - let your legislator know! You can check out some of the bills introduced in our Bill Tracker, or go online and look through the entire bill list.