Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Iowa's 2024 legislative session is over. Here's what passed and what didn't

Iowa'c Capitol during the late afternoon
John Pemble / IPR
Iowa'c Capitol during the late afternoon

Iowa’s 2024 legislative session ended in the early hours of Saturday morning, with the Senate adjourning at 3:26 a.m., and the House closing out at 4:23 a.m. The eighth session in a row with a Republican trifecta in control of the House, Senate and governor's office ended with more tax cuts, big changes to the Area Education Agencies that oversee special education, a behavioral health system overhaul, and more.

Here's some of what passed and what failed to make it during the 2024 session:

Here's what passed:

Area Education Agency changes: School districts will get control over funding that is currently dedicated to media and education services through the AEAs, and over a fraction of the funding for special education services. The Iowa Department of Education gets more power over the AEAs with oversight functions and funding shifting to the state. Signed into law 3/27/24.

Teacher pay raise: Sets minimum teacher salary at $50,000 and minimum for teachers with 12 years of experience at $62,000. Signed into law 3/27/24, phases in over two years.

Tax cuts: Iowa’s personal income tax would be cut to a flat rate of 3.8% in 2025. The top income tax rate is currently 5.7%. The bill also included changes to last year’s property tax relief law.

Boards and commissions changes: Reynolds proposed eliminating, merging and changing the duties of many state boards and commissions that handle issues ranging from licensing doctors to hearing civil rights complaints.

Gender balance repeal: Eliminates the requirement for state and local boards and commissions to have an equal, or nearly equal, number of men and women. Signed into law 4/3/24.

Behavioral health system: Merges Iowa’s mental health disability services regions and substance use disorder treatment networks into seven behavioral health districts under the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

“Religious Freedom Restoration Act:” Supporters say the law will prevent state and local government from infringing on Iowans’ religious freedom, while opponents say freedom of religion is already protected and this law opens the door to discrimination. Signed into law 4/2/24, took effect immediately.

Postpartum Medicaid extension: Extends postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to a year after giving birth. The bill also lowers the income eligibility limit, allowing fewer women and infants to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

Arming school staff: The bill is meant to make it easier for school districts to arm teachers and other staff. That allows school staff to get a professional permit to carry a firearm if their school board allows it, and it gives them civil and criminal liability protections. Signed into law 4/19/24, parts of it took effect immediately.

Boy Scouts settlement: The bill removes the time limit on suing perpetrators of child sexual abuse for Iowans who were abused by Boy Scout leaders decades ago and are part of a national settlement. Signed into law 4/19/24, took effect immediately.

Immigration enforcement: The law will allow state and local police to arrest undocumented immigrants who illegally re-entered the country and authorize state courts to deport them. Signed into law 4/10/24, takes effect July 1. A legal challenge is expected.

Traffic camera regulations: Requires cities to prove to the Iowa Department of Transportation that their traffic camera systems that automatically issue speeding tickets are necessary for safety. Tickets could only be issued for driving more than 10 mph over the speed limit.

“Religious Freedom Restoration Act:” Supporters say the law will prevent state and local government from infringing on Iowans’ religious freedom, while opponents say freedom of religion is already protected and this law opens the door to discrimination. Signed into law 4/2/24, took effect immediately.

Social studies requirements: The bill directs the State Board of Education to review K-12 social studies standards and require them to focus on “Western civilization, the United States and the state of Iowa.” It requires teaching about the Holocaust and other specific events in history.

Regents DEI ban: The education budget included a policy barring public universities from spending money on diversity equity and inclusion programs, except for those required for accreditation and federal contracts.

Limits on foreign ownership of farmland: Iowa already prohibited foreign entities from owning more than 320 acres of farmland. The new law strengthens reporting requirements and enforcement provisions. Signed into law 4/9/24.

Consumable hemp regulations: Limits the amount of hemp-derived THC per serving of consumable hemp products like gummies and drinks, and would make it illegal for people under the age of 21 to purchase products with hemp-derived THC.

Here's what didn't pass:

Limiting lawsuits over pesticides: A bill that would have limited lawsuits alleging pesticide companies failed to warn people of health risks like cancer failed to pass the House. It’s very likely to be considered again next year.

Paid family leave: Reynolds proposed four weeks of paid parental leave for state employees who give birth or adopt a child. The Legislature decline to pass this for the second year in a row.

Birth control access: Reynolds has proposed letting Iowans get birth control from a pharmacist without first seeing a doctor. The measure has failed to pass the House for several years.

Eminent domain: Another attempt by the House to respond to concerns of landowners in the path of a proposed carbon capture pipeline has failed in the Senate. The latest bill would have allowed landowners subject to eminent domain to more quickly ask a court to review the proposed taking of their land.

Penalties for killing an “unborn person:” A bill that would’ve raised penalties for nonconsensual termination of a human pregnancy and defined “unborn person” in the criminal code wasn’t brought up in the Senate because of concerns it could affect fertility treatments like IVF.

Election law changes: The bill would have moved up the deadline for returning an absentee ballot, banned ballot drop boxes, and made it clear that a person convicted of a felony can run for federal office in Iowa. The House passed the bill, but the Senate did not.

Medicaid disability income limit changes: The bill would have raised the income and asset limits for people with disabilities to qualify for health coverage and services through Medicaid.

Banning police review boards: A measure that would have banned cities from having citizen police review boards failed to pass.

Raises for elected officials: The House proposed raising salaries for lawmakers, statewide elected officials and legislative staff, but the Senate did not pass those bills.

Judicial nominating changes: Senate Republicans again proposed changing the makeup of regional commissions that select finalists for district judge positions. The House refused to pass the policy.

Forest tax exemption changes: A bill that would let counties end a property tax exemption for forest and fruit tree reservations did not pass the Senate.

Defining man and woman: Reynolds proposed defining “man” and “woman” in Iowa law based on a person’s sex at birth.

Copyright 2024 Iowa Public Radio. To see more, visit Iowa Public Radio.

Katarina Sostaric is an Iowa City based reporter covering Eastern Iowa for Iowa Public Radio.