State legislators clear 121 bills before ‘funnel week’ deadline

Dylan Boyle

The Iowa General Assembly pushed 121 bills out of Senate and House committees last week to beat the deadline for “funnel week.”

Last week was the current legislative session’s second funnel week, which required Senate bills to be pushed out of House committees and House bills out of Senate committees. Bills that didn’t meet the deadline have little chance left for floor debate and will probably be pronounced dead.

Three bills that have received extended debate throughout Iowa are an immigration bill that requires new Iowa employees to show a driver’s license or ID card from a Midwestern state, a bill that would make more types of plastic bottles refundable and a bill to provide more research into the effects of odors emitted from large livestock operations.

Both the bottle and immigration bills were referred to the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday but neither bill managed to make it out of committee in time.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said the missed deadline would not necessarily kill the two bills.

“Although the bills will technically be dead because they will get a new number, the Ways and Means Committee can redraft the bill and approve it,” Gronstal said. “We did this so we could keep the bills alive this session.”

The livestock odor bill was sent to the Appropriations Committee, which is exempt from the funnel week deadline.

Senate Minority Whip Mark Zieman, R-Postville,said he isn’t as concerned about the bills Republicans couldn’t get out as he is about the bills Democrats did get out.

“We’re in the minority, so we accept our fate,” said Zieman, who was especially concerned about the bottle bill and a collective bargaining bill that would give unions more power in negotiating sessions. “These bills have had a lot of problems in them from the start.”

Gronstal said that, overall, the Democrats were happy with the results of this session’s funnel week.

“We pretty much got all our priority bills out, so we’re pleased- and now we can work earnestly on the budget and try to get done early this year,” Gronstal said.

Other bills that made it out of committee this week were a bill requiring post-secondary school instructors to give students ISBN information for textbooks two weeks before classes begin, a bill requiring employers to give leave to employees to give them a chance to participate in the caucuses, and a Senate joint resolution naming the channel catfish as the official state fish of Iowa.