DES MOINES, Iowa — Sunday marks the end of the 2020 Iowa Legislative Session, and Gov. Kim Reynolds is highlighting her key priorities that passed.
Among Reynolds' priorities are protecting human life, investing in Iowa PreK-12 education, professional licensing reform, building a "Future Ready Iowa," law enforcement reforms, and empowering rural Iowa.
Over the weekend, Iowa lawmakers approved HF 594, which establishes a mandatory 24-hour waiting period prior to obtaining an abortion.
It also ensures that women first receive and ultrasound and other information before making a decision. Lastly, HF594 also prohibits a court from ordering the withdrawal of life support of a minor child over the objection of a legal guardian.
Two Senate bills passed will provide more money to Iowa's PreK-12 education. SF2142 will provide $85.5 million in new state funding for regular program budgets in the 2020-2021 school year.
SF2164 will provide $7.7 million for transportation equity and $5.9 million for per pupil equity. Both of these "investments" will work in conjunction with other priorities like Future Ready Iowa, STEM education, computer science and work-based learning.
In total, $3.4 billion is being invested in Iowa's PreK-12 education for Fiscal Year 2021.
Another highlight for Reynolds, professional licensing reform. HF2627 is set to create additional pathways and remove barriers for Iowans to obtain professional licensure:
- Allows new Iowa residents with an out-of-state license to use their skills and training in the same licensed profession here in Iowa without additional red tape
- Recognizes three years of work experience as a substitute for any education, training and work experience requirements
- Waives initial licensing fees for first-time applicants of families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level
- Creates a uniform standard of review for denial of licensure based on a person’s conviction history
- Adds provisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Governor’s proclamations during the public health emergency allowing continuing education requirements to be fulfilled online
Reynolds is a huge advocate for expanding opportunities for Iowans ready to work. Future Ready Iowa will be continued through HF2629, which aims to strengthen Iowa's workforce.
In short, HF2629 is set to expand the Apprenticeship Opportunities Program, create the Iowa Child Care Challenge Fund, and establish requirements for K-12 computer science education over the next few years.
This legislation passed with unanimous bipartisan support on Saturday.
Up next, law enforcement reforms. Following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the issue of police brutality was brought to the forefront of Iowa lawmakers' minds.
HF2647 is the solution to bring more levels of accountability for Iowa law enforcement officers. It was passed unanimously on Friday.
Here's what the legislation is aimed to do:
- Creates stronger restrictions on the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers
- Strengthens the process for certifying and decertifying law enforcement officers to ensure those who’ve been fired or resign after serious misconduct do not work in our state
- Allows the Iowa Attorney General’s Office additional authority to prosecute officers whose actions result in the death of another
- Establishes requirements for annual anti-bias and de-escalation training for officers
Lastly, Reynolds emphasized SF2400, which will bring greater broadband connectivity to "all four corners of the state."
Under this law, the state will be able to provide more assistance and create an incentive for providers to to build networks to reach the most difficult areas to serve. Iowa's broadband grant program will also be more in line with neighboring states.
This is a key component of Reynolds' Empower Rural Iowa Initiative, according to her office.