04-22-2019 | Government & Regulatory, Lobbying & Public Policy

2019 Legislative Session – Week 14

By: BrownWinick

House and Senate Republicans have reached an agreement on the budget for next fiscal year (FY20). Under the joint plan, the state will spend $7.64 billion from the general fund.  That’s a 0.2 percent increase from last year.  Although lawmakers can legally spend 99 percent of ongoing revenues, the GOP proposal uses just north of 97 percent.  Republicans say their plan will fill all reserve accounts and leave nearly $300 million in state coffers.  FY20 begins on July 1.  The joint funding totals are:



Admin. & Regulation


Ag. & Natural Resources


Econ. Development




Health & Human Services


Justice Systems




General Fund Total











Now that the House and Senate have agreed on spending, they will mostly focus on amending existing appropriations bills to match their joint targets.  Standings, which encompasses scores of miscellaneous budget items, is traditionally the last bill lawmakers pass before adjournment.  It was introduced in the Senate on Thursday as SSB 1262.  All other funding bills are at least through committee.  The measure funding Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals, SF 600, is the furthest along.  It cleared both chambers last week, and awaits Governor Kim Reynolds’ signature.  She can either approve it in full, or exercise her line-item veto on specific budget requests.

Meanwhile, the governor released her plan to fund rebuilding efforts in communities devastated by flooding.  Standing alongside House and Senate Leadership, Governor Reynolds proposed $15 million in flood-related spending for the remainder of this fiscal year.  She called for another $10 million in Workforce Housing tax credit funding for hard-hit areas.   GOP leaders in the House and Senate said they have enough money in the budget to cover her requests.  The governor also signed an executive order creating a Flood Recovery Advisory Board. 

As the clock winds down to the end of session, lawmakers will also work on a handful of outstanding policy bills.   Among bills that have garnered significant attention is a measure to legalize sports betting and online fantasy sports.  On Wednesday, the Senate passed its proposal, SF 617, on a 31-18 vote.  The vote was bipartisan, with 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats in favor.  The bill is estimated to generate anywhere from $2 million to upwards of $5 million per year in state revenues.  Under the proposal, gamblers could create an account by visiting one of Iowa’s 19 casinos.  After that, they could place bets online or at the casino itself.  The measure also prohibits “prop betting” under certain circumstances.  That’s wagering on something other than the outcome of the game, such as how many points an individual player scores during the event.  The House is working on a similar proposal, HF 748.  The House version made it through the Ways & Means Committee and is on the debate calendar for Monday, April 22.

Another bill that has garnered attention is a measure that would require county elections officials to use intelligent bar codes to determine if absentee ballots were mailed prior to Election Day.  The proposal came in response to an extremely close election in Iowa House District 55.  The measure explicitly defines what constitutes an intelligent bar code, and would require all county auditors to use them on absentee ballots moving forward.   It passed the Senate in an amended form this week, and is now eligible for consideration in the House.