Lawmakers focused heavily on committee work this week, as they raced to beat Friday’s first funnel deadline. Most legislation that hasn’t passed full committee in either the Senate or the House isn’t eligible for consideration the rest of session. (The major exceptions to this rule are bills dealing with taxes, spending, or government oversight.) With that in mind, members of both chambers worked to pass dozens of bills out of committee before the end of the week.
One of Governor Kim Reynolds’ priority bills unanimously passed the full Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday. The “Future Ready Act”, SF 2313 would expand the Apprenticeship Opportunities Program to encourage further participation by sponsors with fewer than 20 available apprenticeships. Other educational initiatives would include requiring computer science education for K-12 students; and creating a new pilot program to help older students undergo technical training while earning their high school diplomas. Among other things, it would also create a fund administered by the state’s Department of Workforce Development to help businesses increase employee access to childcare. The House version, HF 2384 passed committee on February 12. Both bills are now eligible for floor debate.
In other news, Sen. Thomas Greene (R-Burlington) announced last Friday that he will not seek reelection in 2020. He served one term after defeating incumbent Democrat Tom Courtney in 2016. Courtney, also of Burlington, said he plans to run for the seat again. He will face a primary against two other Democratic candidates–retired newspaperman Rex Troute of Burlington, and farmer Kevin Warth of Mediapolis. Tim Goodwin, a former teacher, high school administrator, and businessman is the only declared Republican candidate so far. He is from Burlington. Senate District 44 is a swing district that borders the Mississippi River and includes Des Moines and Louisa counties, and parts of Muscatine County. In 2012 President Barack Obama won the district by a large margin. In 2016 then-candidate Donald Trump also won the district by a wide margin. Two years later, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell narrowly won Senate District 44 against Governor Reynolds.
Meanwhile, former House Minority Leader Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown) was elected chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Saturday. Smith will replace Troy Price who has served as IDP chair since July of 2017. Smith announced last fall that he would not seek reelection in 2020. He has served in the House since 2001.