The 2021 Iowa legislative session has officially gone into overtime as lawmakers continue crafting next year’s budget. Bills covering 10 major areas of spending, including Education and Health and Human Services, are eligible for floor debate in at least one chamber. The Senate unanimously passed its Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals appropriations bill (SF 592) Wednesday. It now goes to the House for consideration
A second budget bill that includes $100 million in funding for Governor Kim Reynolds’ broadband expansion initiative (HF 867) unanimously passed the Senate Wednesday. Having already cleared the House last week, it now goes to the governor’s desk. The measure, which is the Administration and Regulation appropriations bill, also includes state agency funding for items like salaries and maintenance.
Meanwhile, Reynolds signed a bill authorizing her broadband expansion program at a ceremony in the Capitol rotunda Wednesday. HF 848 lays out the framework for awarding grants to companies expanding broadband to underserved areas. It unanimously passed both chambers.
Lawmakers are also moving quickly on another of the governor’s top priorities. HF 889, a bill that would ban “vaccine passports” cleared the House Wednesday on a bipartisan vote, 58-35. Seven Democrats joined the majority of Republicans in favor of the measure, while five Republicans voted with most of the Democrats. Reynolds announced earlier this month that she would prohibit the documents by executive order if lawmakers failed to act.
Under the vaccine passport concept, a person who is vaccinated against COVID-19 could carry special documentation that would allow them into certain businesses, events, or other gatherings. HF 889 would ban Iowa’s state and local governments from issuing IDs with vaccine status information. Businesses and nonprofits would also be prohibited from requiring members of the public to show proof of vaccination before entering. They could, however, continue with other safety protocols, such as taking temperatures at the door. Violators would no longer be eligible for state contracts or grants.
Certain medical facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes, would be exempt. Employers would also be allowed to require workers be vaccinated. The Senate Commerce Committee advanced an identical bill Tuesday, SF 610, which means they can bring the House measure directly to the floor for debate.
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