The Iowa legislature has finished its fourth week of the 2024 session, and just two weeks remain before “first funnel” – the deadline for the majority of bills to have passed out of committee in order to continue through the legislative process. Things are moving quickly! Keep reading for the latest updates from the Capitol.
IFSC’s Inaugural “Food and Farm Day on the Hill” is a Success!
Members of the Iowa Food System Coalition gathered on Thursday, January 25, for the inaugural “Iowa Food and Farm Day on the Hill.” Advocates spoke with legislators about the importance of local food systems in our state, and legislation to support state investment to build on the success of existing initiatives, such as Local Food for Schools (LFS), Local Food Purchasing Assistance Program (LFPA), and Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB).
The Iowa Hunger Coalition is a member of the Iowa Food System Coalition and is involved in IFSC’s Local Food Policy Network Team.
February 15: Healthy School Meals for All Day on the Hill
Iowa Healthy School Meals for All Day on the Hill
Thursday, February 15
Iowa State Capitol Rotunda, 1st Floor
Advocates will be gathering to talk with legislators about the importance of healthy school meals for all! Register below, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
Updates on Legislation We’re Monitoring
HF 2112: Unnecessary, Costly, and Harmful
On Tuesday, January 30, a subcommittee meeting was held for House File 2112, which IHC opposes. HF 2112 would ban undocumented immigrants from SNAP and other public assistance programs (surprise, this is already current law in Iowa). The bill also adds a vague and potentially harmful “smuggling” provision to the Iowa criminal code.
While the bill did advance out of subcommittee in a 2-1 vote, the subcommittee chair, Rep. Steven Holt, indicated he may be open to removing Division I of the bill (the piece concerning public assistance programs).
You can also contact all members of the House Judiciary Committee and ask them to oppose HF 2112 when it comes before the full committee for a vote.
HSB 552: Banning Basic Income Programs
Also in the House Judiciary Committee, HSB 552 would ban cities and counties from implementing basic income programs. Rep. Steven Holt, who introduced the bill, stated that this is a response to UpLift: The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot, which he views as “socialism on steroids.” The Iowa Hunger Coalition is opposed to HSB 552.
While full results of the UpLift study will not be complete until 2026, we do know from preliminary purchasing data that 40.8% of all funds have been spent on groceries – the single largest of all categories of spending, with other top categories including retail sales/service (27.5%), transportation (12.4%), and housing/utilities (9.6%).
HSB 552 already passed out of subcommittee on January 18, and advanced out of the full House Judiciary Committee yesterday (February 1). It is now eligible for debate, but we do expect there will be an amendment when it does come to the floor. It will also be renumbered.
ACTION ITEM: Contact your Representative and ask them to vote NO if it comes to the House floor for a vote.
HF 2022: Double Up Food Bucks
House File 2022 would provide $1 million in state funding to the Double Up Food Bucks program administered by the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. It is sponsored by three House Republicans: Rep. Shannon Latham, Rep. Chad Ingels, and Rep. David Young.
A subcommittee has still not been assigned for HF 2022, but given that it is in Appropriations and is thereby “funnel-proof,” the timeline is not as tight. Legislators are focusing on bills that must meet the funnel deadline right now, and often Appropriations bills do not take center focus at the start of the session.
ACTION ITEM: After the first funnel deadline, we’ll be stepping up pressure to get a subcommittee assigned. For now, reach out and thank the sponsors of the bill:
SSB 3074/HF 2176: Grocer Reinvestment Grant Program
SSB 3074 and HF 2176 are companion bills spearheaded by the Center for Rural Affairs and Rep. Brian Lohse. The Iowa Hunger Coalition is in support of these bills. This legislation is still being actively discussed, with expected amendments forthcoming. It has passed out of subcommittees in both the Senate and House on 3-0 votes. Both subcommittees have been productive, bipartisan conversations.
The intention of this legislation is to provide a grant program for grocery store infrastructure projects, with a focus on areas with low grocery store access. We see this as a positive bill to increase food availability in areas of high need, and low access – especially in rural areas of the state.
HF 575: Expanding Free School Meals
House File 575, which was introduced last session, would expand free school meals to students who qualify for reduced-price meals, expanding access to over 20,000 students in the state.
Despite the fact that a significant number of House Republicans are co-sponsors of this bill, the House Education Committee Chair, Rep. Skyler Wheeler, has said he will not assign a subcommittee meeting for this bill due to ideological opposition. While this is a frustrating setback, we’re exploring other options for how to keep this policy idea alive beyond the first funnel.
ACTION ITEM: Contact the bill’s sponsors to thank them and ask them to advocate with Rep. Wheeler on this issue.