DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Senate State Government Committee passed SSB 1123, the state government reorganization bill submitted by Gov. Kim Reynolds, by a partisan 12 to 6 vote.
If passed, the almost 1600-page bill will reduce cabinet-level agencies from 37 to 16 and restructure department organizational charts.
In her Condition of the State Address, Reynolds made this one of her priorities.
“State government exists to serve Iowans, but an increasingly growing bureaucracy is making it too complicated. This bill gets to the heart of the problem, making government efficient, effective, and small. While shrinking government from 37 cabinet departments to just 16, we will also save Iowa taxpayers an estimated $215 million over four years. For Iowans and our state to thrive, government must be responsive to their needs,” Reynolds said in a released statement following the committee vote on Wednesday.
State Senator Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, the State Government Committee Chair, told The Iowa Torch that he was pleased the bill was moving forward.
“I am very glad to see the Governor’s alignment bill move out of committee and to the full Senate. A bill of this magnitude should be vetted by all the representatives and senators. The Governor’s team really did their homework and were prepared. We scheduled eight hours of subcommittees and heard of only a few issues brought to us by the public. I’m excited to work with my colleagues in the Senate and House to see this project completed,” he said.
Here are some of the changes the bill would bring if passed and signed into law:
- The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (a recent merger between the Iowa Department of Human Services and Iowa Department of Public Health) will take in the Department on Aging, Department of Human Rights, Early Childhood Iowa, and the Iowa Commission of Volunteer Services. The bill eliminates and replaces the State Board of Health with a Council on Health and Human Services. By incorporating DHR into DHHS, the bill eliminates the division of community advocacy and services, the division of community action agencies, and the division of criminal and juvenile justice planning.
- Department of Administrative Services will incorporate the library services duties of the Department of Education, the state archivist and duties related to state records and archives, and most of the historical division of the Department of Cultural Affairs.
- The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) becomes the Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing (DIAL). It will incorporate the labor services division and labor commissioner (currently under the Iowa Department of Workforce Development), the Workers Compensation Division, and the Workers’ Compensation Commission (Also under Workforce Development). Several licensing and regulation functions of state government will be transferred to DIAL, as will different department administrative law judges. The Civil Rights Commission will also fall under DIAL.
- The bill will move several legal functions of different departments to the Attorney General’s office. It also eliminates a provision in the Iowa Code that makes certain Iowa Department of Justice employees, and administrative law judges appointed or employed by the public employment relations board subject to the merit system. The bill allows the Attorney General to prosecute a criminal proceeding without first receiving a request from a county attorney to act as a county attorney. The bill also grants the Attorney General exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute election-related crimes.
- The Iowa Economic Development Authority will take in the arts division and film office of the Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as the State Historic Preservation Officer and Iowa Finance Authority. IEDA will also oversee the partner state program.
- The bill makes several changes to the Public Employment Relations Board. It removes the experience requirement of its members and the requirement that they are full-time. It requires members to meet at least quarterly and modifies language about the compensation of PERB members and employees. The bill provides for an executive director of the PERB who will be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Governor and will be subject to Senate confirmation.
- The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will administer the disaster aid individual assistance grant fund and disaster case management grant fund previously run by the Iowa Department of Human Services. The director of the department will be subject to Senate confirmation and serves at the pleasure of the Governor.
- The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs will incorporate the Iowa Veterans Home.
- The Iowa Department of Public Safety will incorporate the Office of Drug Control Policy, originally an independent office.
- The Iowa Department of Workforce Development will incorporate the Department of Education’s work-based learning intermediary network program. It moves job training programs and the workforce development fund from the Economic Development Authority to Workforce Development. Accelerated career education programs, vocational rehab, and apprenticeship programs are also transferred to IWD.
- The Iowa Department of Revenue will incorporate the Iowa Lottery Authority and the Alcoholic Beverages Division of the Department of Commerce.
- The bill states that the director of the Iowa Department of the Blind will be appointed by the Governor, subject to Senate confirmation, and serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
- Iowa Department of Education will oversee the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School and Iowa School for the Deaf instead of the Board of Regents. The bill transfers the STEM initiative from the University of Northern Iowa to the department’s innovation division created by the bill. The legislation establishes the department’s higher education division, which will include the career and technical education bureau, the board of educational examiners, the college student aid commission, and the community colleges bureau. The bill will also establish a career and technical education program.
- The bill renames the Iowa Department of Commerce to the Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services creating insurance, banking, and credit divisions. The superintendent of banking and superintendent of credit unions under the bill will serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The bill eliminates the position’s four-year term and the legal requirement that those holding those offices can only be removed for cause.
- The legislation states that judicial district community-based corrections employees are employees of the Iowa Department of Corrections. Under the bill, the director of the Department of Corrections can appoint directors for each district, and the former district boards will operate in an advisory role only.
- The legislation also makes all five members of the Board of Parole full-time employees (currently, only the chair and vice chair are) and eliminates the three alternate board members. The bill provides that the Governor appoints the chair and vice chair from the board’s membership and will serve at the pleasure of the Governor subject to Senate confirmation.
- The bill also changes the requirement for Senate confirmation to be a three-fifths vote instead of a two-thirds vote.
- The bill also establishes a boards and commissions review committee to study the efficiency and effectiveness of each board, council, commission, committee, or other similar entity established by the Iowa Code.