Each year, when the legislature sets the yearly calendar, one of the most important dates is the first legislative “funnel,” our a self-imposed deadline before which most policy bills must pass out of committee in order to be eligible for further consideration. With this first legislative funnel now behind us, we have refined the agenda, and can do more work on bills that have a chance to move forward.
I serve on the House Judiciary committee, which considers a very high number of these bills. In just our last meeting before the funnel, we considered over 10 different pieces of legislation.
As one of only a handful of lawyer-legislators on the Judiciary committee, I get to personally manage several of these bills. Specifically, I work on a lot of bills proposed by the Iowa State Bar Association, the Iowa Judicial Branch and the County Attorneys Association. I get to interact with fellow private lawyers, prosecutors and law professors who are experts in their field.
Last week alone, I chaired subcommittees on bills to modernize our corporate laws, protect transit bus operators from assault, create a new definition of “use restrictions” in our property code, and updating the law on sentencing of juveniles convicted of crimes in District Court.
These kinds of bills often do not attract a great deal of attention in the media, but are very important to the business and legal communities.
Much of our work is non-controversial, and the bills pass with wide bi-partisan support. Still, the Judiciary committee sees its fair share of bills that draw greater attention. The last bill before the end of the funnel was a piece of legislation to legalize firearm suppressors in Iowa. I was glad to see that we could still pass a common sense bill to help secure Iowans’ second amendment rights.
Our work will now turn to the appropriations process and helping to build consensus around which bills we pass out of the full House. Please let me know your thoughts and ideas moving forward.