Sunday, March 15, 2009

Funnel Week

During each legislative session of the Iowa General Assembly there are what are as known as “funnel weeks” where, if a bill has not been atleast passed out of committee, it is dead for that year. (They may still resurface latter as amendments to other bills, however.) This does not apply to certain spending bills, tax bills and leadership bills. The week of March 9-13 was the sessions first funnel week.

Of the many Iowa bills discussed on this blog, the following ones, good and bad, are still alive:

Bad Bill- House File 179, “An Act including members of the clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse, and making penalties applicable.” This bill flies in the face of the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. It would require State determination of who is and who is not "clergy." Also (as I pointed out in "How About A Little Separation of Church And State?") this would discourage people from going and talking to their minister, who is "a small town’s first responder for family crises."

Bad Bill- Senate File 227, "An Act relating to an agreement among the states to elect the president by national popular vote." Formerly called SSB 1128, this bill would require all of Iowa's electoral votes be awarded to whichever presidential candidate wins the most votes nationwide, regardless of how they fared in Iowa. In "Iowa Senate Studies 'Tyranny of the Majority'" I stated that a candidate therefore could "win" Iowa without having a single person in Iowa vote for them.

Good Bill- House File 74, the “Iowa Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2009.” This bill would require the state to create a “searchable budget database website for the public to access the details of the expenditure of state tax revenues and a searchable tax rate database for the public to access the details of each tax rate for all taxing districts in the state.” [Referenced in "3 Good Bills In Des Moines"]

Good Bill- House File 721, "An Act relating to the carrying of a gun in or on a vehicle on a public highway and making penalties applicable." Called HF 116 when I wrote about it in "3 Good Bills In Des Moines," this bill would alter the silly Iowa law that considers a loaded magazine to be a loaded weapon even if it isn't in a weapon. This was a pain in the neck for shooters who had to spend valuable range time loading and unloading their magazines. If they forgot to unload one, they could become criminals on the drive home.

Good Bill- House File 193, "An Act relating to the issuance of permits to carry weapons and providing an effective date." Although I didn't actually endorse HF 193 in "'Shall Issue' In Iowa?," I did mention it. In the eyes of libertarian purists, it certainly wasn't the best of the five bills to reform Iowa's concealed weapons permit system, but it's the last man standing, and it is pretty good.

HF 193 would improve the licensing regime in several ways. First, if a sheriff denies a permit he has to give the applicant a written reason why it was denied. Secondly, a denial can be appealed to the Iowa commissioner of public safety (and then to a judge, if needed). Thirdly, it would standardize training requirements statewide. Fourthly, it would grant reciprocity, recognizing weapons permits from other states. Lastly, it would grant immunity to the issuing sheriff or commissioner of public safety for any unlikely harm done by a permit holder.

There are still plenty of other bad bills and probably even a few good ones that made it through the funnel. Since tax and spending bills aren't affected by funnels, don't let go of your wallet just yet.


  1. RE: Senate File 227


    A survey of 800 Iowa voters showed 75% overall support for a national popular vote for President. The question was "How do you think we should elect the President when we vote in the November general election: should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current electoral college system?

    By political affiliation, support for a national popular vote for President was 82% among Democrats, 63% among Republicans, and 77% among others.

    By age, support was 76% among 18-29 year olds, 65% among 30-45 year olds, 76% among 46-65 year olds, and 80% for those older than 65.

    By gender, support was 82% among women and 67% among men.

    By race, support was 75% among whites (representing 93% of respondents), 65% among African Americans (representing 2% of respondents), 86% among Hispanics (representing 1% of respondents), and 58% among others (representing 4% of respondents).

    The survey was conducted on February 17-18, 2009, by Public Policy Polling.


  2. Of these poll respondents who favor "a national popular vote," I'd wager most of them assume that means scrapping the electoral college altogether, not this plan to add another layer of complexity to the electoral college. The people are being disingenuous about this.

  3. UPDATE: HF 193, the concealed carry bill, emerged from committee as HF 746. Unfortunatly it was loaded down with enough "poison pills" from the gun ban crowd to turn this "pretty good" bill into a terrible bill. One quick witted rep from the pro-Second Amendment side is trying return the favor by adding his own amendments to the bill calling for Vermont carry, castle doctrine, etc...

    The battle rages on in Des Moines.


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