Sinclair, Fry speak ‘funnel week’ and what’s to return – Osceola-Sentinel Tribune

DES MOINES – Friday marked the end of funnel week at the Iowa State Capitol, the weeding out process where only the bills with the most support get to pass through.

“Have you ever lived inside a tornado?” Sen. Amy Sinclair said with a chuckle. “That is funnel week. You have all of the committees trying to get their priority bills through the subcommittee and committee process so that they remain eligible for discussion, for debate. So, you have dozens of bills battling for prominence.”

Sinclair, R-Allerton, who sits on the commerce, education, judiciary, rules and administration, and ways and means committees, said she is excited to have finished the school funding bill so that schools can get their budgets set.

“Even in a time of global pandemic, a financial crisis worldwide, we were still able to give an increase to the cost per pupil for kids in public schools,” she said. “We got it done long before funnel and I was pleased to get the governor to sign that and move it forward.”

Sinclair said she is excited that Iowa has “solid election integrity” after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 143 Monday – a Republican-backed bill that makes it harder to vote early, potentially eroding a key aspect of Democratic campaigns.

The Iowa Senate voted 33-14 to pass Senate File 478, which Sinclair said she is excited to see pass the through, as it “protects and defends students’ First Amendment rights.” The bill would require Iowa’s colleges and K-12 schools to develop First Amendment training for teachers and staff, to ensure students know and understand their rights. The bill also defines certain “divisive” concepts that may not be taught in schools, centered around the idea that no individual is inherently racist or sexist.

“… Just making sure that we’re identifying the fact that kids have a right to their own opinion, and their free thought and expression and assembly and I think that’s important that we’re doing that,” she said.

Sinclair said the bill – which would provide penalties for educators who constrict the free speech of their students – is important to her.

In the House

Rep. Joel Fry (R-Osceola), who sits on appropriation, education, human resources and public safety committees, said funnel week has been a busy week for the Iowa House.

“We worked diligently to pass legislation that many Iowans have asked us to pass out of committees,” he said.

Fry said, because of COVID-19 and its different affects on the wellness of Iowans during the past year, he believes “now more than ever” that telehealth payment parity for mental health providers is imperative. On Tuesday, the House approved HF294, which requires health insurance companies to make reimbursement for mental health services provided via telehealth on the same basis and at the same rate as they would for services provided in person. This piece of legislation was chaired by Fry.

“Given the fact that I am the Health and Human Services Budget chair, I spend much of my time working on health care related issues at the State House,” said Fry. “I have focused a great deal of my time in the State House on health care needs for rural Iowans and this is another step in securing high quality mental health options in rural Iowa. 

The process

During this first funnel – which lasts eight weeks and ended March 5 this year – all bills must be voted out of their Senate and House committees and sent to the full chamber for debate. Bills that don’t make it out of committee are essentially dead, meaning they are no longer viable and lawmakers won’t have an opportunity to vote on them. However there are a few exceptions.

“Any bill that doesn’t make it through the House or Senate at that time is not considered, unless they have appropriations … those will still be viable no matter what,” said Rep Tom Moore, R-Griswold.

Appropriations bills are pieces of legislation that determine the amount of supply or spending. Ways and means bills, which deal with budgets, and government oversight bills can move forward at any point during the legislative session.

Bills that did not make it out of committee will have to be brought up next year with the process starting all over again.

Speak with your legislators

Rep. Fry and Sen. Sinclair will be hosting a virtual meeting with their constituents 12 p.m. April 1. To participate, email For those unable to participate, coverage of the virtual meeting will be published online at and in the April 8 edition of the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune.

Bills that have survived the first funnel include:

• Boost next fiscal year’s state K-12 education funding by $36.5 million (SF269)

• Require K-12 schools offer in-person classroom instruction option (SF160)

• Provide state-funded “students first” scholarships to private-school families (SF159)

• Enact permit-less “constitutional carry” gun laws (HSB254/SF535)

• Allow student-athletes to profit from use of their name/image/likeness (SF245)

• Prohibit/remove most automated traffic enforcement cameras (SF516)

• Ban hand-held electronic devices while driving (SF330/HF392)

• Halt high-tech state incentives over social-media censorship (SF402/HF633)

• Amend Iowa Constitution to say there is no right to abortion (SJR2)

• Cut off state funds for cities and counties that “defund” police (SF479)

• Bar employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations of employees (SF193)

• Governor’s ethanol expansion proposal (SF481/HSB185

• Expand broadband grant program (SF390)

• Governor’s plan to expand affordable housing options (SSB1142/HF178)

• Amend Iowa Constitution with gun rights statement (SJR7)

• Revamp early-voting/absentee-balloting election laws (SF413)

• Exempt business PPP loans/federal jobless benefits from state taxation (SF364)

• Bar employers from noncompete agreements with low-wage employees (SF496)

• Establish daylight saving time as the eventual official time in Iowa (SF335)

• End new faculty tenure at regent universities (HF490/SF41)

• Create crime for defrauding employment drug/alcohol test with synthetic urine (SF329/HSB22)

• Phase out state tax gambling casinos pay on marketing promotions (SF169)

• Allow parental request for child to repeat grade over COVID-19 progress concerns (SF90)

• Legalize esports wagering (HSB200)

• Create sexual assault forensic examiner program (HF603/SSB1154)

• Eliminate statute of limitation on criminal actions involving sexual abuse of minors (SSB1017)

• Create offense for slower drivers who “camp” in divided highway left lane (HF494)

• Allocate state money to K-12 schools to offset cost of COVID-19 in-person learning (HF439)

• Place four-year limit on term of Iowa Veterans Home commandant (SSB1097)

• Give utilities authority to trim trees interfering with power lines (HSB149)

• Toughen criminal penalties for drivers causing death/injury due to excessive speed (HSB5)

• Require health professionals report vaccinations/immunizations to state registry (HF547)

• Bar loaded firearm when operating electric scooter (HF738)

• End requiring adult women have spousal approval to have hysterectomy (HF684)

• Create assault crime for pointing laser to temporarily blind another person (HF198)

• Grant liability immunity for commercial property that owners offer for wintertime recreational use (HF273)

• Restore voting rights for felons who discharged sentence (HSB231)

• Allow licensed cosmetologists/barbers to work at wedding venues (HSB215)

A• mend Iowa Constitution guaranteeing right to hunt/fish/enjoy resources (HJR8)

• Cap medical malpractice/trucking mishap awards at $1 million (SF537/SF1225)

• Create crime for assisted reproduction fraud (SF529)

• Reduce penalty for first offense marijuana possession conviction (SF533)

• Appropriate $250,000 for Iowa Reading Research Center (HF734)

• Allow more frequent veterans card game tournaments (SF510)

• Create task force focused on human trafficking (SF521)

• Enact “back the blue” police protections/enhanced crime penalties (SF534)

• Change law on confidential law enforcement reports (SF395)

• Create public safety equipment fund (HF708/SF489)

• Establish new remote worker grant fund/program (SF491)

• Require in-person regent university graduation ceremonies (HSB246)

• Amend constitution to clarify lieutenant governor line of succession (SSB1211)

• Create crime for failing to assist someone in imminent danger of death (SF243)

• Allow smoking at Iowa Veterans Home under certain circumstances (SF257)

• Bar interference with transportation of agricultural animals (HF655/SF421)

• Allow school surtax/property tax levy for resource office expenses (SF258)

• Appropriate $21 million to finance Workday contract (SF284)

• Create civil remedy when sexually explicit images disclosed without consent (SF324/HSB31)

• Crack down on businesses selling glass/metal pipes used to smoke meth (SF363)

• Allow grocery stores to opt out of bottle-deposit law (SF470)

• Instruct Iowa DOT to install adult changing stations in highway rest stops (HF492)

• Make multiple traffic changes/shield police liability in vehicle pursuits (SF72)

• Create Department of Human Services asset/identity verification system for public assistance (SF389)

• Expand child care opportunities for Iowa families (HF1/3/6/multiple bills)

• Create “safe and sound” public safety program in schools (HF585)

• Bar employers from knowingly hiring “unauthorized aliens” (SF339)

• Establish liability immunity for agricultural tourism (SF356)

• Offer phased-in tax rebates for people who move/work/live in Iowa (SF490)

• Pare back state board appointees/commissioners subject to Senate confirmation (SF423)

• Repeal Iowa’s inheritance tax law effective July 1 (SSB1026)

• Designate making/selling firearms/ammunition a lawful activity not unreasonably dangerous (HSB116)

• Create state public safety cold case investigation unit (HF63/SF151)

• Halt privileges to hunt/fish/camp for up to a year for Iowans convicted of littering (SF465)

• Require amusement ride attendants be at least 16 (SF114/HF558)

• Require regent universities to hire a public policy events director (HF2185)

• Implement process for collecting/tracking of sexual abuse evidence collection kits (HF426/SF751)

• Create transparency in prescription drug pricing (HF526)

• Phase out 2013 multi-residential property tax classification (HSB93)

• Grant liability immunity for veterinarians aiding authorities in a civil/criminal case (HF746)

• Require insurance companies to cover telehealth mental health services (HF89)

• Make over-the-counter birth control available at pharmacies for adult women (HSB121)

• Add new method for creating charter schools (HSB242)

• Clarify deceptive/unfair rental car practices (HF730)

• Allow landlords to pay delinquent water bills with security deposit (HF749)

Bills that have died during the first funnel:

• Reinstate limited death penalty for kidnapping/raping/murdering a minor (SSB1004)

• Gradually increase state hourly minimum wage to $15 by July 2025 (HF122)

• Eliminate Iowa income tax/raise state sales tax to 11 percent (SF149)

• Repeal 2017 changes/restore previous public employees’ collective bargaining law (HF179/SF141)

• Establish a COVID-19 oversight panel to track government expenditures (HF689)

• Provide “religious freedom” protections for businesses (SF436)

• Allow parents to opt students in grades 1-6 out of gender identity instruction (SF167)

• Create alternatives to abortion program to promote childbirth/pregnancy services (HF515)

• Appropriate $20 million to establish drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics (HF688)

• Repeal declaration that English is the official language of Iowa (HF72/SF152)

• Prohibit sale/transfer of semi-automatic assault weapons (HF131)

• Establish campaign contribution limits for statewide/legislative candidates (HF67)

• Create legislative oversight of Supreme Court decisions invalidating a law (HF109)

• Repeal bottle law with six months to recoup nickel deposits (HF156)

• Eliminate casino gaming-floor smoking exemption under Iowa Clear Indoor Air Act (HF530/SF280)

• Bar construction/expansion of a confinement animal feeding operation structure (SF282)

• Require motorcycle/moped operators under age 18 to wear helmets (SF210)

• Allow cities/counties to ban/limit fireworks sale for public safety (SF99)

• Require school athletes to compete based on biological sex (HF184/HF334)

• Bar law enforcement racial profiling (HF130/356)

• Allow licensed dealers to sell motor vehicles on Sunday (HF296)• Limit authority of colleges/universities to mandate facial coverings (HSB162)

• Raise state cigarette tax by 50 cents to $1.86 per pack (HF733)

• Add emergency preparedness supplies to sales tax holiday (HF680/SSB1240)

• Create three-year, $200 million pandemic recovery grant program for schools (HF659)

• Appropriate $50 million for state eviction/foreclosure prevention program (HF657)

• Ban sale of “E-zero” non-blended regular gasoline in Iowa (HF629)

• Repeal Iowa’s teacher compensation/leadership/career path program (HF628)

• Require employers provide appropriate meal/rest periods (HF20)

• Establish an open season for hunting black bears (HF22)

• Set three classes of firearms violence protective orders (HF24)

• Create income tax checkoff for qualifying Iowa zoos (HF35)

• Establish school safety hotline/website (HF42)

• Require peace officers/tribal law enforcement to use/wear body cameras (HF43)

• Bar weapons in sate Capitol building/on Capitol grounds (HF126)

• Decriminalize marijuana possession offense to $25 civil fine (HF163)

• Limit refundable research activities tax credit paid to Iowa corporations (SF28)

• Exempt diapers and women’s menstrual products from state sales tax (SF36/SF213)

• Ban sale/use of pesticides in neonicotinoid class (SF52)

• Bar school activities during presidential precinct caucuses (SF59)

• Prohibit manufacture/possession of multi-burst trigger activators (HF127)

• Ban sale/use/application of pesticide dicamba (SF66)

• Protect rabbits from mistreatment like other farm livestock (SF85)

• Provide free on-street city parking to wounded/disabled/Purple Heart veterans (SF56)

• Include cursive writing school curriculum so students proficient by third grade (SF89)

• Ban sale/possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices (HF129)

• Impose $2 yearly vehicle registration surcharge to help fund Iowa State Patrol (SF101)

• Require state license for pool/billiards tourneys with more than 64 players (SF247)

• Require emergency retail employee bathroom access for eligible conditions (SF250)

• Ban single-use plastic straws/deposit for single-use plastic bags/containers (HF320)

• Earmark SAFE school infrastructure money to finance vacant school building demolition (SSB1182)

• Block internet-connected pornography/create adult entertainment fee (HF288)

• Add gender identity to Iowa’s hate crimes law (HF614)

• Create multistate compact to phaseout “corporate giveaways” (HF598)

• Test schools/child care facilities for lead (HF594)

• Allow nursing home visitors even in health emergency (HF571)

• Require minority impact statement for state budget bills (HF478)

• Bar discrimination based on individual’s hair texture/style (HF471)

• Create private investigation state income tax credit (HF463)

• Exempt bathroom access policies from civil rights practices deemed unfair (HF405)

• Bar food service places from offering single-use plates/bags/containers/straws unless required (HF320)

• Exempt homemade food for sale from state regulation (HF319)

• Allow Legislature to meet at location other than Capitol in emergency (HF276)

• Prohibit using 3D printer to manufacture firearms (HF253)

• Create extreme-risk protection order against person with a firearm (HF252)

• Prohibit required child immunizations to attend school (HF247)

• Remove gender identity as protected class under Iowa Civil Rights Act (HF272)

• Legalize psychedelic mushrooms for medical use (HF459)

• Change medical cannabidiol program to aid manufacturers/dispensaries (SSB1177)

• Require transgender students use bathroom corresponding to sex on their birth certificate (SF224)

• Set state mitigation standards for COVID-19/other infectious diseases (HF703) • Conduct 10-year comprehensive review of Iowa Code (HF704)

• Review/divest/bar public investments linked to Chinese military/government services (SF499)

• Bar employers from reviewing credit information about employees (HF732)

• Establish experiential learning competitive grant program (SF518)

•Create grants for digitization of county records (SSB1239)

• Bar candidate/committee to send advocacy text if prior permission not given (HF208)

• Reduce state funding for schools whose teachers use anti-slavery “1619 Project” materials (HF222)

• Establish pandemic response review committee (SF519)