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2021 Session So Far – Bills to Watch
Senate File 159 – The Governor’s Education Bill – contains 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 it is 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 now 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 passed out of the Iowa House on March 25 and headed to the Senate where it was eventually rereferred to the Ways and Means Committee. The bill passed a Ways and Means subcommittee on April 7. The bill was amended in the full Senate Ways and Means Committee on April 22 and passed. Amendment S-3165 contains several provisions but those pertaining to school choice issues are:
- Limit on number of public charter schools that may open in a geographic area, based on enrollment of public and nonpublic schools contained in that area
- Increase in School Tuition Organization tax credit percentage to 75% state income tax credit and increase statewide tax credit cap to $20 million, effective in 2022
This bill is now eligible for floor debate by the full Senate.
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, so it remains viable this session.
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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