2020 Legislative Update – Pederson Consulting
The 2020 legislative session resumed on June 3rd after a 3-month recess due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time the session abruptly shut down the following week was to be the second funnel. When the recess resumed on June 3rd there were only 3 days allocated to the funnel work. Therefore, many more bills died at this stage because of the shorten funnel.
The main objective for the legislature was to get the budgets and appropriations passed. They were willing to look at a few policy bills and in the essence of time joined many policy bills together. In addition to this work the Revenue Estimating Conference needed to re-evaluate the lowered tax revenues due to Covid-19 and determine a new budget number for legislative work. They lowered this years revenues by 159 million and next year by 359 million dollars. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there was no new money to allocate so the budgets were 99% status quo. We were actually pleased to keep a status quo budget for the Fire Service Training Bureau and not forced to lose funding.
The culture at the Capitol was far different than it has ever been due to Covid-19 restrictions of social distancing, face masks, temperatures taken etc. There were no doorkeepers to pass notes in, no clerks for legislators, barely any staff, no cafeteria, no law library and a small number of lobbyist or public members. On top of that you can count on a protest each day. It was a very interesting and challenging session to say the least.
Here is an update where our IFA bills stand at the close of the 2020 session:
HF /SF 2259 Donation of Fire Equipment
This bill has passed both the House and Senate and has been signed by the Governor. PLEASE thank the following legislators for their work on this bill:
Rep Deyoe from Nevada and Sen Garrett from Indianola. We also want to thank Chief Ray Reynolds from Nevada Fire Department for bringing this to our attention.
SF 442 Emergency Responder
SF 478 Use of Lights
These two bills were ready to roll the day before Covid-19 shut down started in March. The bills were ready to roll, efforts were made to combine them with other bills in the essence of time. At the end of the day they were not brought forward and it was not for a lack of trying. Thank you to all who emailed their legislators. The Capitol was filled with protesters yelling and screaming against any legislation that provided any protection for public safety officials which made our bill controversial. We have promises for next year to get these bills through.
SF 24878 LOSAP-Length of Service Award
This bill was attached to SF 2283 an EMS bill and passed the House 95-1. It was added as an amendment H-8176 LOSAP along with amendment H-8193 which allows a vote to declare EMS an essential service. The bill has moved to the Senate debate calendar. The Senate was unwilling to bring the EMS bill to the floor by Senator Chapman but he said he would look at pulling our LOSAP bill out in hopes of saving it. He did not do that. We tried many different strategies but could not get any traction. Rep Bloomingdale worked very hard on this legislation to the bitter end and we are so thankful for her dedication and support. We made more progress this year and it will be on the agenda next year. Please thank Rep Bloomingdale for her work on this bill and we know she will be right there with us next session.
HF 2280 Increasing the $100 Tax credit to $200
Bill introduced by Rep Kaufmann
This bill was ready for House debate before the recess. When the legislature resumed, the focus had changed. The REC had to re-evaluate the state budget and it uncovered a major shortfall. This is not unexpected news, and not a good time to be asking for a larger tax credit. We have planted the seed in hopes that when revenues get back in line there will be another chance.
HF 2531 Telecommunicator Bill
This bill modifies Code section 80B.11C governing telecommunicator training standards and the definition of “telecommunicator”. The bill modifies the term “telecommunicator” to be “public safety telecommunicator” and specifies that the term means a person who serves as a first responder by receiving requests for, or by dispatching requests to, emergency response agencies.
This bill passed and is heading to the Governor.
We also had a Proclamation written signed by the Governor to bring awareness to the ever-growing suicide rate of first responders. A copy of the signed Proclamation was included in the May newsletter.
We also asked for $150,000 to move the Fire Service Training Bureau to a new location. This evidently was not a top priority for them and was not funded.
This was definitely a session for the history books as we had Covid-19 followed by extensive protesting in the Capitol due to the Black Lives Matter movement. While all our legislation seemed to be on track, they all took an about face with budget shortfalls due to the Covid pandemic, unknown tax revenues and the distraction of the protesters demands.
The session ended on Sunday , June 14th . The House adjourned at 1:38 pm and the Senate adjourned at 1:32 pm.
We want to thank all those IFA members who took the time to send emails, visit the Capitol and talked to their legislators. These connections with YOUR legislators and leaders really make a difference. The service you provide to the citizens of Iowa is priceless. We know you are not told this enough and we hope it is not too late before people realize how valuable your work is.
REMEMBER: This is an election year and you need to know your legislator and opponent. Do they REALLY support fire service or just give lip service? Ask them to COMMITT by supporting fire service legislation and get commitments that they would be willing to sponsor legislation. This is a critical year to make sure your candidate will support your work. There have been lots of promises with no follow through on their end. Make sure we are aware of any conversations and commitments that were made.
We look forward to working with you off session to determine your legislative agenda for next year. BE SAFE, wear a mask in public and we hope there will be a convention in Grinnell!
Have a great summer!
John & Cyndi Pederson