Legislative Update – Second Funnel 2023

Under the Golden Dome

It’s hard to predict what a second funnel week will look like.  While the first funnel deadline was frenetic, the second funnel deadline was anti-climactic.   As a reminder, the second funnel deadline requires a bill to have passed one chamber and a committee in the other chamber to remain alive for consideration.  This does not apply to bills in Appropriations, Ways and Means or Government Oversight.

Our two main policy priorities – prohibiting non-compete clauses for mental health professionals and passage of the counseling compact language – are in good shape to cross the finish line.  The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved HF 93.  Once approved by the full Senate, it goes to the governor for her signature.  The counseling compact is “funnel proof” in the House as it was sent to House Ways and Means (which passed the bill out of committee).   The Senate version was placed on the unfinished business calendar, a procedural move that allows them to take up the House bill when it is passed in that chamber.

What can you expect next?  There are four weeks left in this legislative session, assuming they meet the deadline of April 29.   That seems unlikely at this point.   Both chambers will focus almost exclusively on floor debate next week and work behind the scenes to craft their budget proposals.

The Senate and House have released their budget targets but it’s noteworthy that the Senate only released an overall target, not those for individual budgets.   The two chambers are nearly $100 million apart in what they want to spend for the upcoming fiscal year.   And, they have differing views on whether to spend the nearly $5 billion surplus Iowa currently enjoys.   Senate Republicans have generally resisted using one-time money and have indicated they want to keep that in reserve for further reductions (elimination) of the state’s income tax.  House Republicans would like to use some of that money to fund preschool expansion (YEAH!), nursing home shortfalls and property tax relief (state picks up more of the local property tax revenue).

Bills of Interest

HF 93:  This bill prohibits non-compete clauses for any mental health professional as defined in 228.1, including mental health counselors.  HF 93 passed the House 95-0 and is before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.

HF 151:  This bill strikes the code language for the newly created mental health professional loan repayment program for mental health counselors, mental health social workers, psychologists and marriage and family therapists.  It creates a new mental health practitioner loan repayment program that includes all mental health professionals as defined in 228.1, including nurses, PAs, and psychiatrists.   It also provides for a $1.5 million appropriation.  The current program for mental health counselors is funded at $520,000.  The bill passed the House Health and Human Services Committee and is before the House Appropriations Committee.  IMHCA is registered undecided.

HF 244/SF 253:  These bills clarify that payments made to successful applicants under the mental health loan repayment program are annual payments made at the conclusion of each calendar year that the person fulfills the program requirements.  The bills have been approved by the education committees in each chamber.  Both bills were placed on the unfinished business calendar. IMHCA was successful in creating this program and is registered in support of this technical clarification.

HF 273/SF 210:  These bills authorize the use of the term “brain health” and “brain illness” to be used synonymously with mental health, mental illness and behavioral health but does not impact any licensure, reimbursement, or scope of practice.  Both bills have been approved by the Health and Human Services Committees in both chambers and were placed on the unfinished business calendar. IMHCA is registered as opposed both bills.

HF 494/SF 127:  This bill adopts the national counseling compact legislation, allowing Iowa’s entry into this compact.  The compact authorizes both in-person and telehealth practice by licensed individuals in other member states of the compact.  Both bills have been approved by the Health and Human Services in each chamber.  HF 494 passed the House Ways and Means Committee and SF 127 was placed on the Senate unfinished business calendar.   IMHCA is registered in support of both bills.

SF 496:  This is the governor’s “parent empowerment” bill which includes two provisions that IMHCA registered opposed to as single bills in the House.  prohibits schools from providing instruction in gender identity and sexual orientation to students in kindergarten through six grades.  And it prohibits schools from facilitating any accommodation to affirm a student’s gender identity if it is different from the student’s sex listed at birth unless the parent or guardian consents to these accommodations.  The bill passed the Senate and the House Education Committee.  IMHCA is registered opposed to the bill.

SF 482:  This bill prohibits schools from allowing a person to use a multiple occupancy restroom, changing room or other facility that does not correspond to their biological sex.  It allows districts to make accommodations for any student for any reason whose parent/guardian consents to alternative accommodations.  It is effective upon the governor’s signature.  SF 482 passed the Senate 33-16 and the House 57-39.  Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 22, 2023 and it was effective immediately.  IMHCA is registered opposed to the bill.

SF 538: This bill prohibits any health care professional licensed under Iowa Code 147 from providing any medical or surgery for minors experiencing gender dysphoria.  It does not prohibit mental health counselors from providing counseling services, but it does prohibit them from recommending their client for treatment that is prohibited by this bill.  The Senate passed the bill 33-16 and the House passed the bill 58-39.  Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 22, 2023.  IMHCA is registered opposed to the bill.

Bills that did not survive

HF 19: limits MH loan repayment to those working for agencies

HF 180: requires parental notification of student request to use different pronouns (included in SF 496)

HF 243: extends age limit/coverage for ABA

HF 348: no gender identity/sexual orientation K – 6 (included in SF 496)

HF 616: prohibits funds spent at regent’s institutions for DEI

HF 620: prohibits disciplenary action for failure to use chosen pronouns or to require pronouns

SSB 1045: classifies occupational therapists as mental health professionals

SSB 1050: expanded autism insurance coverage (see HF 243)

SSB 1106: MH noncompete clauses (see HF 93)

SF 83: prohibits gender or sexual identity curriculum

SF 300: prohibits licensure discipline if don’t follow federal guidelines

HSB 130/SSB 1100: no prior auth requirement if provider was denied at least 80% of time