Iowa Legislature Heads Into Overtime Monday for Budget, Several Bills

DES MOINES, Iowa - The 2021 Iowa Legislative session heads into overtime Monday.

Lawmakers still need to approve an $8 billion budget that goes into effect in July, and have several bills that are priorities for the Republican majority.

The Senate will likely consider a ban on vaccine passports that was introduced and passed by the House last week.

Other major issues on the table include tax cuts, mental health funding, criminal penalties for rioting and boosting ethanol in gasoline.

A proposal known as the "Back the Blue" bill passed the House last month with a several Democrats voting in favor of it.

The bill would give police officers greater protection against lawsuits filed against them, or qualified immunity. It would also stiffen criminal penalties for rioting, lifting the offense to a felony. And drivers who encounter protests would have more legal protection.

Lawmakers are also looking at a plan to require Iowa gas stations to sell E-15, gasoline with a 15 percent ethanol blend, by 2026.

In addition, the House is looking at a bill passed by the Senate that would speed up tax cuts approved in 2018 and change how the state funds mental health. The state would handle funding for mental health, removing the burden from property taxes.

The House and Senate must also settle differences in money for the Corrections Department and the state's three universities.

The House has proposed a $20 million increase for the Department of Corrections, while the Senate has offered a $6.2 million increase.

The House has also proposed no funding increase and a continued tuition freeze for Iowa’s public universities, while the Senate is calling for an $8.2 million increase, which would make up for cuts to the schools last year.

Further, Lawmakers are looking at a last-minute plan to delay unemployment claims by one week.

The bill being considered are all being moved forward by the Republican majority in the legislature, and are largely opposed by Democrats.

The scheduled 110-day legislative session ended on Friday, but both chambers will be back in session with lawmakers no longer being paid for their work.