DES MOINES, Iowa — The 2021 Iowa Legislative session has come to an end. Late Wednesday night, the House and Senate reached a deal and pushed forward a state budget.
Lawmakers were able to pass an $8.18 billion budget. House Republicans were initially opposed to the idea of using general state funds for mental health services. However, Speaker Pat Grassley, said they were reassured by Governor Reynolds, and decided to drop their opposition.
The budget proposal also includes millions in income tax cuts and gets rid of the inheritance tax by 2023. Another part of the budget includes a $21 million increase to the Department of Corrections budget for hiring and security.
However, Iowa’s three regent universities will not see an increase in their funding. The Board of Regents asked for $18 million more to help universities bounce back from the pandemic.
The budget goes into effect July 1st.
In the last three weeks of overtime, lawmakers managed to pass a flurry of bills that are now law.
The so-called “Back the Blue” bill offers protections for police officers. Another establishes a plan and funding for broadband expansion. One bill passed just last night prohibits schools and local governments from requiring masks.
The House and Senate also advanced an amendment to the constitution that would not guarantee the right to an abortion in Iowa. It must pass both chambers again in 2023 or 2024. After that, the bill would come to a public vote.
There were several other bills that did not pass, including several measures considered anti-LGBTQ such as a bill requiring Iowans to use the bathroom of their assigned sex, and one that would prohibit transgender athletes from competing in the sports teams of their preferred gender.
A renewable fuels standard bill pushed by the Governor also did not pass.