Summing up work on appropriations, education

Last week ended the second legislative funnel. If a bill sent to either chamber has not made it through a committee, it is dead, unless it is an Appropriation bill or a Ways and Means bill. There are still ways to move priority legislation that hasn’t passed the opposite chamber, generally by amending bills with other bills. I suspect we will see some of that this session.

So far this session, House Republicans have passed roughly 175 bills and sent them to the Senate for consideration. In comparison, the Senate has passed around 60 bills for consideration in the House. This contrast may seem stark, and people may ask why a disparity is there. The simplest explanation is that House Republicans have a 64-member majority, and each one of those members have listened to their constituents and brought forth proposals based on that feedback. We have worked tirelessly to get those proposals enacted into law. The House chamber has had thoughtful and thorough debate on each of those pieces of legislation. We’re proud to work hard for our constituents every year in the Iowa House, even if it means long hours and late nights, and this session is no different. We believe our work makes Iowa stronger.


This week in Appropriations, I managed HSB 729. This bill increases childcare rates for the Child Care Assistance Program by $14.1 million. Last year, the legislature increased these rates by $10.8 million, and this bill continues the work of providing significant resources to Iowa’s childcare centers and homes.

This bill also extends the childcare workforce pilot program for an additional year to collect data on recruiting and retaining child care employees. This pilot program provides the children of childcare workers with Child Care Assistance.


In the wake of the tragic shooting in Perry, Iowans have demanded workable and effective school security measures. A recent poll in the Des Moines Register indicated 60 percent of Iowans supported the House Republican plan to thoroughly train and arm school personnel who volunteer to serve in such a capacity inside school buildings. The House has methodically moved forwarded with additional school security plans during the 2024 legislative session.

On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that looks at school safety from the side of infrastructure.

This bill creates a task force to develop school safety building codes to determine what makes school buildings safer. Currently none exist. With new standards, school officials will be able to make sure they are doing what they can from an infrastructure standpoint to make buildings safe for students and teachers. Along that same line, the bill prevents districts from bonding to build athletic stadiums or facilities unless and until their facilities are up to date with the school safety building standards from the task force. Safety and security should be the priority.

This bill also deals with how schools can get help or send for help if an emergency arises. Schools are allowed to have a mobile panic alert system if it can connect to emergency services and integrates with local public safety answering points. This is a mobile phone application districts can utilize. The Governor’s office previously developed a grant program for emergency radios. Many schools took advantage of that grant, but some did not. The Governor’s office has said that they plan to reopen that grant program to make sure all schools can have access to funding for the radios. If schools do not take advantage, they will be required to use their own funds.

The bill establishes two grant programs. The first is a three-million-dollar Firearm Detection Software grant program run by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The grant program provides funds to school districts of varying sizes to help offset the cost associated with purchasing, installing and operating software that meets these requirements:

• Designed to alert and detect district employees and first responders if there is a visible, unholstered firearm on a property owned by the school district.

• Designed to integrate with a district’s existing security camera infrastructure.

• Was developed in the U.S. without any third-party data or open-source data.

The second grant program is the School Security Personnel Grants for Infrastructure, Equipment, and Training. This grant program states that if HF 2586 or successor legislation is passed, which is the other House GOP school safety bill that creates a professional permit for school staff and mandates training requirements, it will provide school districts grants to purchase infrastructure and equipment related to employee permits to carry weapons, facilitate the training associated with employee permits to carry weapons, and to provide stipends to employees who participate in the training associated with employee permits to carry weapons. Districts who choose to enhance school security this way will have additional expenses and House Republicans want to help cover those costs to truly make schools a safer place for students and staff.

Commerce Committee

This week, the Iowa House and Senate Commerce Committees passed House File 2401 related to Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). PBMs are the entity between health insurers and drug manufacturers who process prescription medication claims on behalf of the insurer or employer.

This bill ensures pharmacies are reimbursed for their services within their scope of practice, requires profits from spread-pricing to go back to the employer/insurer, and requires an appeals process for pharmacies that are unable to acquire drugs at the reimbursement rate from the PBM.

In 2022, the legislature brought PBM oversight under the Department of Insurance, and this session, the department also proposed a bill based on a year and a half of regulating the industry. House File 2099 passed the Iowa House unanimously. This bill expands PBM’s duty of good faith and fair dealing to pharmacies and prohibits retaliation against pharmacies that file complaints against PBMs.

These bills support Iowa’s pharmacies. Since 2008, there has been a 13.77% decrease in Iowa pharmacies of all types. 75% of those closures were rural pharmacies. According to the Iowa Pharmacy Association survey of community pharmacies in October 2023, 40.8% of responding pharmacies indicated they expect to close or sell in 2024.

State Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, represents eastern Webster County.


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