It's hard to believe that we are heading toward our first funnel deadline of Friday, March 8! Although it's been only weeks since session began, the legislature has already introduced more than 1,000 bills (including successor bills). A lot of subcommittee and committee work and limited debate categorized the week, but we also saw some important votes around education. 

Policies shouldn't add barriers for low-income families

Iowa individuals and families with a limited income face all kinds of barriers to success. Those who are able to work often fill low-wage jobs that have irregular hours and offer no benefits. Parents must juggle working one or more jobs with caring for their kids, at a time when the cost of child care in Iowa rivals in-state college tuition. Many have limited resources and are one flat tire away from falling behind on paying bills. 

Of challenges these individuals and families face, jumping through hoops and fighting bureaucratic red tape should not be among them. Even so, legislation has surfaced that would impose new work reporting requirements on those who depend on programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) and Medicaid. But instead of helping people get better jobs, they would make it more difficult for people to work and take care of their families. 

We will continue to monitor this issue as the session continues. We need policies that help—not harm—Iowans doing their best to achieve success. Check out our just-released fact sheet to learn more about work reporting requirements. 

Speaking up. The Center's Mary Nelle Trefz spoke against bill that would make it harder for Iowans to access supports like Medicaid and SNAP at a subcommittee meeting Thursday. Adding work reporting requirements would only add barriers to success for low-income Iowans.   

Education funding increase still falls short

This week both chambers of the Iowa legislature passed HF 306, which increases per-pupil spending by 2.09 percent. That's better, of course, than last year 1 percent increase (the lowest in 15 years), but still far below what's needed to keep up with costs. Another education bill, HF 307, increases funding for transportation equity by about $8 million, to bring transportation equity funding to $19 million, and $2.3 million more in per-pupil funding. Both bills now head to the Governor for her signature.

K-12 education funding is the largest line-item in the state budget, accounting for more than half—$3.2 billion—of the total. Even so, per-pupil spending in Iowa is $750 lower than the U.S. average. Our friends at the Iowa Policy Project recently published a fact sheet on public education funding in Iowa. You can access it here

Visual comes from our friends at the Iowa Policy Project. Visit to learn more. 


Children's mental health advocates at the Capitol

The Coalition to Advance Mental Health in Iowa for Kids (CAMHI4KIDS) met Wednesday morning with legislators and the lieutenant governor to promote implementation of children's mental health system in Iowa. The governor's bill creating the system is expected to drop soon. Pictured (clockwise): Kim Murphy (Iowa Hospital Association), Joan McGovern (Family Resources) and Dr. Amy Shriver (AAP); Rep. Mary Mascher; Rep. Michael Bergan and Rep. Joel Fry; coalition members with Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg.


Bill tracker

Want to go deeper? Curious about the status of key bills? The Center maintains a bill tracker to outline the specific legislation we are following this this session. 

Find your legislator

Not sure who represents you? With 50 senators and 100 representatives, it can be hard to keep tabs. Visit our Legislator Lookup tool to find out who represents you in the state house and senate, biographical information about each one and a link to their legislative websites, which list contact information and committee membership. All you need to do is enter your home address and zip code. 

505 5th Ave., Ste. 404
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 280-9027 /

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Our presence at the State Capitol during session is supported by individual Iowans who care about children and families—and support our work. Join us!

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