DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa lawmakers are at the half-way point for the 2019 legislative sessions with hundreds of bills filed and discussed—but only some are moving forward after a key legislative deadline this week known as the “funnel.”
Here’s a look at some bills that survived the deadline:
Children’s mental health
The proposal aims to build a children’s mental health system in Iowa, accessible to children statewide regardless of where they live or economic status. The bill would require the community-based mental health regions that oversee the mental health system to provide certain services and care for children, including crisis stabilization residential services and inpatient treatment. It’s a priority for Governor Kim Reynolds, and lawmakers made reforms to the adult system.
Expanding access to birth control
The measure, proposed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, would authorize a “standing order” from the Iowa Department of Public Health allow women to get birth control pills, vaginal rings and hormone patches without a prior doctor prescription. The “standing order” gives pharmacists the authority to prescribe.
Medical cannabis expansion
Iowa lawmakers are looking at expanding a 2017 law allowing medical cannabis to be manufactured and sold in the state to sick patients who need it, advancing two proposals that would make changes. The Senate bill would add PTSD to the list of conditions and allow nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to certify patients for the drug. A House proposal would remove the three percent cap on THC, an element that makes recreational users high, and transition to a kilogram form of measuring dosage.
Even though Iowa’s “fetal heartbeat law” from last year was struck down as unconstitutional, there’s still a push to ban abortion in the state.
The proposal, backed by nearly all Senate Republicans, adds language to the Iowa Constitution to say the state “ does not secure or protect a right to or require the funding of abortion.” If approved, it would need passage by another General Assembly and voters. The soonest it could go to the ballot is 2022.
Another bill in the Senate dubbed a “fetal homicide” bill would stiffen penalties for someone who ends a woman’s pregnancy without her consent. Doing so could be punishable by life in prison, according to the proposal.
A proposed constitutional amendment l would add “the right to keep and bear arms” language to the state constitution. The measure got approval from the GOP-controlled legislature last year, keeping it on track for voter referendum on the 2020 ballot. Constitutional amendments require approval from two separate General Assemblies before moving to the ballot.
But lawmakers back to the drawing board this year, after the Secretary of State failed to publish notification of the amendment in Iowa newspapers—a key requirement in process of amending the Constitution, which takes years.
Felon voting rights
A proposal that would restore felons’ voting rights once they have completed their sentence draws support from a broad coalition of advocacy groups, including the ACLU of Iowa, NAACP and socially conservative group The Family Leader. Governor Kim Reynolds made the pitch for lawmakers to consider it in her Condition of the State address in January. Right now, Iowa and Kentucky are the only states that permanently disenfranchise people with felony convictions unless the governor restores those rights on a case-by-case basis.
Thee debate over traffic cameras has emerged again with two competing proposals surviving the funnel: one that bans the cameras, another that regulates them. The Senate moved forward with a full ban last year, which died in the House–where lawmakers opted to merely regulate the cameras to high-risk areas. Neither chamber brokered a compromise.