DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa House of Representatives passed SF 514, the massive 1600-page government reorganization bill introduced by Gov. Kim Reynolds, on Wednesday by a 58 to 39 vote.
Republican State Reps. Mark Cisernos of Muscatine, Zach Dieken of Granville, Mike Sexton of Rockwell City, Mark Thompson of Clarion, and Charley Thomson of Charles City, joined Iowa House Democrats in opposition to the bill.
The Iowa Senate passed the bill 34 to 15 last week.
The bill consolidates 37 cabinet-level directors and agencies into 16, restructures department organizational charts, and rewrites swathes of the Iowa Code to reflect the state government reorganization.
The Iowa House passed the Senate version of the bill without amendments. During the floor debate, Iowa House Democrats offered 17 amendments to the Senate bill, 15 of which failed with recorded votes, one was ruled not germane, and another amendment was withdrawn.
“For decades, Iowans have seen state government grow beyond its means. Today, the Iowa House joined me and the Iowa Senate to declare an end to bloated bureaucracy. We are making government smaller, more efficient, and more effective. We are saving taxpayer dollars and putting Iowans’ needs first. This transformational legislation will put Iowa in the best position to help our state thrive,” Reynolds said reacting to the bill’s passage.
Here are some of the changes the bill would bring once signed by Reynolds:
- 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, including 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 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.