State Relations Update

Week ending 03/07/2014

The Iowa General Assembly has finally released joint legislative budget targets.  The proposed targets, agreed upon by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen, were hatched in effort to expedite the budget process and thereby the legislative session.  Specific legislative line items for the regent institutions are yet to be decided although it is our understanding the 4 percent increase for the university general lines at each institution is agreed upon.  Funding for the Special Schools and the ISU Agriculture Experiment Station are still possible outcomes for this session as well.  The special $4 million for UNI’s base funding is, at this point, one area that continues to be a point of contention in the budget negotiations. 

Details for each appropriation subcommittee are outlined below.  You will notice that the total legislative budget target is approximately $30 million less than what the Governor proposed. 

Table showing appropriations by subcommittee

Policy bills

A Ways and Means legislative subcommittee recommended passage of  HF 2311 (the MHEC Sara bill), which allows the College Student Aid Commission to join an interstate reciprocity agreement in order to register and collect fees from colleges and universities, public or private, that want to provide distance education in Iowa.  This is intended to make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines, as well as making it easier for states to regulate participating institutions.  The bill was drafted in cooperation with the Attorney General’s office to ensure proper consumer protections.

The Education Committee unanimously approved HF 2424 which establishes the Urban Agriculture Academy within the Board of Regents.  Specifically, the bill encourages the Board to annually convene a conference bringing together both urban and rural agricultural sectors including minority interests.  The bill is expected to be approved by the full House chamber next week before moving to the Senate where it must pass committee by next Friday in order to stay eligible.

Next week

Budget discussions will continue throughout next week.  We expect to see specific legislative line item proposals within the next 10 days.  Conversations continue with legislative leaders, relevant committee members, and the Governor’s office to ensure the Board’s legislative priorities are advanced legislatively over the next few weeks.