The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Where are Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ legislative priorities now post-session?

With the Iowa Legislature adjourning early Saturday morning, here’s how Reynolds’ priorities fared this session.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Caucus Night Watch Party at the Sheraton in West Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. Republican voters assembled statewide to participate in the caucuses despite the cold and extreme winter weather across the state. Former President Donald Trump won the caucuses in a dominant and early fashion with 51 percent support from Republicans while DeSantis trailed in second with 21 percent as of 11:15 p.m. Around 250 people showed up to listen to DeSantis. (Ayrton Breckenridge/The Daily Iowan)

With the Iowa Legislature adjourning for the year early Saturday morning, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ priorities saw marginal success with several crossing the finish line and only a handful cut by legislative deadlines. 

At the beginning of the session during her Condition of the State Address in January, the governor laid out a bold policy agenda for lawmakers with her chief priority being the reform of Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, which dominated much of the session. Lawmakers scrambled to finish the governor’s other priorities — and their own — in the last month of the session. 

“Iowa is a state that values education, rewards hard work, and encourages strong families,” Reynolds said in a press release early Saturday morning. “I’m proud of what we accomplished this year and I look forward to continuing to build upon our strong foundation, ensuring prosperity and stability for every Iowan.” 

Mental health and substance abuse district realignment headed to governor’s desk 

Iowa House Republicans gave final approval to Reynolds’ proposal to realign the state’s mental health and disability service districts with the state’s substance abuse districts on Thursday. 

Reynolds’ overhaul laid out in House File 2673 would condense Iowa’s 13 Mental Health and Disability Service regions and the 19 Integrate Provider Networks into seven Behavioral Health Districts. 

The legislation will move disability services to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. 

The condensing will streamline funding and priorities to allow those with mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders to receive care in one place, rather than two. 

The state will provide $1 million to the Department of Health and Human Services in administrative costs for transitioning to this setup. 

Along with condensing these regions, the bill will eliminate the Commission on Tobacco Use Prevention and Control, and allocate $3 million to the suicide and crisis hotline from the Regional Incentive Fund.

The bill currently awaits Reynolds’ signature to become law. 

Postpartum Medicaid coverage expansion awaits Reynolds’ signature 

Reynolds’ proposal to expand the length of time in which mothers and infants can receive the benefits after birth awaits the governor’s signature after passing the Iowa House and Senate earlier this month.  

The bill, Senate File 2251, would lower the income threshold to qualify but would expand coverage for mothers and babies after birth from 60 days to a whole year.  

According to an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, the bill would result in 1,300 mothers and 400 infants not qualifying for coverage.  

When signed into law, it amends the eligibility of postpartum Medicaid coverage to mothers and infants to 215 percent of the federal poverty level from 375 percent. 

Reynolds’ goal to cut Board and Commissions across the finish line 

Reynolds’ proposal to cut more than 100 of Iowa’s Boards and Commissions was sent to the governor’s desk — in part — on Friday. Lawmakers approved eliminating 67 of Iowa’s 256 boards and commissions, a much less ambitious version of the governor’s plan. 

Iowa Senate lawmakers approved a bill eliminating 67 of Iowa’s 256 boards and commissions, including the state Child Care Advisory Committee and the Iowa Council on Homelessness. 

The bill is part of Reynolds’ top priorities for this session, however, the governor originally proposed eliminating or condensing more than 100 boards and commissions. 

The bill would reestablish the State Government Efficiency Review Committee and direct the committee to re-review Iowa’s Boards and Commissions more delicately after criticism of a rushed review over the interim. 

The bill now awaits the governor’s signature. 

Reynolds AEA reform passed, signed into law 

In January, Reynolds announced her plans to reform Iowa’s Area Education Agencies while delivering her Condition of the State Address. 

Initially, Reynolds’ plan was a complete overhaul of the agencies, by planning to restrict AEAs to only provide Special Education services overseen by the Iowa Department of Education. Reynolds’ proposal allowed school districts to receive special education services from private providers, rather than requiring districts to receive the services from AEAs. 

She credited the proposed reform on low assessment scores resulting in Special Education performing below the national average. 

The proposal was met with outrage from Iowans across the state, as well as Democratic legislators. It did not take long for Reynolds to amend the legislation, by allowing AEAs to provide general education services to school districts if requested. 

Reynolds’ proposed legislation slowly passed through the House and Senate while being amended. On March 27, Reynolds signed into law House File 2612, which included the reformation details of the AEAs, as well as a raise in teacher pay, and an increase in school funding by 2.5 percent. 

The legislation requires schools to receive special education services from AEAs; all special education funding will go to Iowa’s public school districts to contract the services, rather than go straight to the AEAs; school districts are required to give 90 percent of the special education funding, while the remaining 10 percent can be spent on third-party services for special education. 

Over-the-counter birth control, defining “woman”, “man” proposals funneled 

In January, Gov. Reynolds introduced House Study Bill 642, which would have allowed pharmacists to give state medical director-regulated self-administered birth control to adult patients. Patients would have been allowed to receive these birth control pills up to 27 months before being required to see a physician if wanting to continue. 

The bill passed out of the House Health and Human Services Committee but was not taken up on the floor before legislative deadlines. 

Reynolds also proposed a bill that would define “woman” and “man” in Iowa code using biological functions like the production of Ova or eggs. 

The bill passed the House Education Committee but did not get taken up for floor debate. 

Liam Halawith contributed to this report.

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About the Contributors
Natalie Miller
Natalie Miller, Politics Reporter
Natalie Miller is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her position as a Politics Reporter, Natalie was a News Reporter focusing on Higher Education.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.