iowa-statehouse-domeOne of the most important weeks of the legislative session occurred a little over a week ago. “Funnel week” is the week in which the years agenda narrows down significantly. Most years, well over 1,000 bills are filed by Senators and Representatives. Funnel week is the first step in whittling down this huge number to a more manageable amount that have a chance to pass.

In order for the bill to stay alive for the session, it must pass out of a full committee in either the House or the Senate. If the bill does not pass a full committee by the end of funnel week, it is considered “dead” for the session. As a legislator or an advocate for a bill, this is the first defining moment in any legislation you are trying to get passed-this year that date was Thursday, March 5th.

Besides always being interesting, looking at what bills survived the funnel and which did not is a great way get the pulse of the legislature-and by extension your fellow Iowans around the state. Additionally, examining the bills that did not make it through this year serves as a good preview of what may become the big issues of next session.

In the lists below I have included the prefix and the bill number for each. If you are interested in any and want to read the actual bill, you can do so by visiting (https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation) and looking them up.

**Please Note-The following in no way indicates whether I personally support or do not support the bills.

The following are some of the more interesting bills that survived funnel week in the Senate and are still alive for the session:

  • Legalize possession/sale/use of fireworks (SF226)
  • Raise state minimum hourly wage to $8.75 by July 1, 2016 (SF269)
  • Bar minors from tanning salons (HF420/SF232)
  • Reduce penalty for first-time marijuana possession (SF219)
  • Require doctors to show ultrasound image to a pregnant woman before abortion (SF58)
  • Legalize fantasy sports games (HF281/SF166)
  • Revamp collective bargaining for teachers (HSB204)
  • Expand preschool program for 4-year-old children (SF246)
  • Treat college savings plans like tax-deductible IRAs (HF124)
  • Require state agencies to use zero-based budgeting approach (HF352)
  • Expand open enrollment to include students in online learning programs (HF204/SF154)
  • Update definition of beer to include high-alcohol content beverages (SF197)

On the other hand, here are some of the interesting bills that did not survive funnel week, and therefore have no chance at becoming law this year:

  • Increase rural interstate highway speed limit to 75 miles per hour (SF213)
  • Ban cell-phone use while driving except hands-free devices (HF25/SF391)
  • License for smoke-free casinos in Cedar Rapids (SF139)
  • Require motorcycle operator/passenger to wear helmets (HF267)
  • Eliminate core curriculum requirements for K-12 schools (HF272)
  • Require drug testing for welfare recipients (HF141)
  • Amend Iowa constitution to have biennial, not yearly legislative sessions (SJR5)
  • Impose moratorium on state gambling licenses retroactive to Jan. 1 (SF98)
  • Place five-year “sunset” on all state administrative rules (SF78)
  • Bar employers from knowingly hiring illegal aliens (SF231)
  • Amend Iowa Constitution to impose term limits on state legislators (HJR1/HJR6)
  • Authorize school districts to adopt a mandatory uniform policy/dress code (SF116)
  • Require police/school security officers to wear body cameras (HF292/HF452)

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