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2021 Session Summary –
School choice saw a number of successes this legislative session! With increases to STO and the Tuition and Textbook Credit, expansion of public charter school law and changes to open enrollment, Iowa parents will have more choices than ever before when it comes to educating their children.
Senate File 159 – The Governor’s Education Bill – contained provisions for Student First Scholarship Program (ESAs), expansion of public charter schools, open enrollment expansion and expansion of tuition and textbook tax credit for parents. The bill passed the Iowa Senate and went to the House; however, since the bill didn’t pass through a House committee by the April 2 funnel and was done for the session.
The Iowa House introduced three bills which contain portions of the Governor’s bill, with some changes –
House Study Bill 240 became House File 847– contained provisions on student information database, expansion of tuition and textbook tax credit for parents of public, private and home school students, creation of working group on enrollment, open enrollment. The bill was passed by the full House Education Committee on March 3rd, with an amendment dropping the database portion and reducing the tuition and textbook tax credit to 25% of the first $2,000 of education expenses, and making the tax credit non-refundable. (Original version in Governor’s bill called for 50% of first $2,000 and made credit refundable). The bill moved between both chambers and was amended several times.
On May 19, the bill was amended again to include an increase in the School Tuition Organization tax credit percentage to a 75% state income tax credit effective for 2021, and an increase in the statewide tax credit cap to $20 million, effective in 2022. The bill passed both chambers and was signed into law by Governor Reynolds late on May 19.
House Study Bill 242 now House File 813– contains provisions expanding public charter schools in Iowa. The bill was passed by a House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 2 and was passed by the House Education Committee on March 3. The bill was passed by the Iowa House on March 24 and headed to the Senate where it was passed by the full Senate Education committee before the April 2 funnel. This bill successfully passed both chambers and was signed into law on May 19 by Governor Kim Reynolds.
House Study Bill 243 – creates Student First Scholarship Program, an ESA-style program available to students assigned to one of Iowa’s 34 public schools identified as being in need of “Comprehensive Support” under Federal law. Students would receive a grant of a portion of state funding allowing them to choose a nonpublic school. The bill was passed by a House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 2, but was not taken up by the House Education Committee before the March 5 “funnel” deadline, so this bill is done for the session.
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