Advocacy in Action

This page is your home for all things legislative and advocacy related. We have an update from our lobbyist at the Capitol each week, summaries of important bills, and then steps for you to get involved!

Contact Your Legislator    IASB Legislative Priorities     Iowa Legislature

Under the Golden Dome

Watch Emily Piper's final update from the Capitol this session, which includes:

  • A big thank you to all of our members for your tireless advocacy this session
  • The final actions the legislature took this week before adjourning
  • Wins for IASB throughout the session

The legislature wrapped up its work at 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19 after three marathon days of work. Long hours of debate were punctuated with long hours of waiting. Once the Republicans in both chambers reached agreement on a tax bill, work quickly moved toward finalizing the budget.

Despite the frustrations of the session, IASB is proud of its accomplishments, many of which wouldn’t have happened without your advocacy. We had more wins than losses (albeit some of those losses really hurt) and we were successful in both passing legislation as well as killing language or bills. And, some legislative proposals that we didn’t like were made “less terrible” by our engagement. 

A complete listing of bill summaries is available and watch for our new, online legislative summary next week. This will give more details about our wins as well as an overview of the budget bills that impacted K-12 education. 

Here is a quick look at some highlights: 

  • Defeated the voucher proposal 
  • Temporarily waived the limits on school board member compensation to help districts fill substitute positions, bus drivers and food service workers. 
  • Reduced some reporting requirements for schools, provided more flexibility for board and district operations and eliminated some public notice requirements. 
  • Negotiated the use of federal funds to help districts with the anticipated preschool enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year. 
  • Expanded access to mental health services for schools 
  • Strengthened the ability of the ELL weighting to help those students with the most intensive needs 
  • Derailed an effort by Senate Republicans to eliminate PERL, a voter-approved levy 
  • Exempted school bus drivers from paying additional fees for their CDL
  • Authorized boards to transfer general fund monies to the student activity fund to cover shortfalls due to the pandemic 
  • Stopped a provision requiring districts to notify registered voters via mail of upcoming special elections 
  • Stopped legislation that limited districts’ ability to recoup costs for public records requests 
  • Defeated at least three unfunded mandate bills 

The government relations team sends its sincere thanks to our members who advocated throughout the legislative session. Whether you responded to a general action request or took part in some of our targeted advocacy efforts, your work made a difference. IASB’s government relations team is only as strong as the people who stand behind us – YOU!

Bills on the Move

See the bills Governor Reynolds has signed and which bills passed the legislature but are still awaiting her signature. 

Read Bill Summaries

Bills Supported by IASB that Did Not Survive 

HF 294 – Telehealth Reimbursement for Behavioral Health (included in SF 619) 

HF 318 - Statewide Preschool Eligibility 

HF 401: Dropout/At-Risk Cap Increased to 5% for all districts 

HF 593: Establishing Career Academies 

HF 600: Electronic Publication of Public Notices 

HF 784 – Reimbursement for Telehealth Services 

HF 845 – Shared Operational Function Expansion 

HSB 133: Expanding and Improving Broadband Access 

SF 64: Rural Teacher Shortage Area Loan Forgiveness Program and Fund 

SF 92: Telehealth Reimbursement Rates 

SF 131: Statewide Preschool Program Funding 

SF 189: Statewide Preschool Program Funding for Four-Year-Olds 

SF 223: Weighted Funding for the Statewide Preschool Program  

SF 228: Electronic Publication of Public Notices 

SF 258 – School Resource Officers 

SF 271: Modified Supplemental Amount Up To 5% for Dropout/At-Risk Programs 

SF 371: Public School Reporting Requirements 

SF 398: Grant Program for Mental Health Providers for School Districts 

SF 453: Electronic Publication of Public Notices 

SF 467 – In-Person Instruction 

SF 545 – Learning Recovery Taskforce  

SF 547 – Minority Teacher Recruitment 

Bills Opposed by IASB that Did Not Survive
HF 165: Reduced Funds for Districts that Violate Instructional Time Requirements 

HF 185: Creating Liabilities for Exposure of Minors to Inappropriate Programming 

HF 215: Vouchers 

HF 250: Carrying or Possessing Weapons Without a Permit 

HF 329: Vaccine Exemptions 

HF 330: Vaccine Exemptions 

HF 334: Participation in Sports Based on Biological Sex 

HF 343: Carrying Weapons on School Grounds 

HF 398: Vouchers 

HF 465: Raising Compulsory School Attendance Age 

HF 532 – School District Supplemental Appropriation 

HF 585 – Safe and Sound Program 

HF 628: Using TLC Funds for Class Size Management Strategies  

HF 771 – Self Administration of Respiratory Distress Medication 

HF 795 – Seizure Disorder Requirements 

SF 2: Limiting Administrative Costs for School Districts 

SF 103: Action Plan and Training Requirements for Students with Seizure Disorders 

SF 127: Vouchers 

SF 128: Vouchers 

SF 159: School Choice Omnibus 

SF 167: Prohibits Gender Identity Instruction in Elementary Schools without Parental Consent 

SF 168: Special Education Services for Nonpublic Students   

SF 224: Prohibits using a bathroom that does not correspond to a person’s biological sex 

SF 409 – Filing Complaints to Iowa Public Information Board 

SF 480 – Public Records Requests Cost 

SF 555 – Vaccine Exemptions 

SF 587 – Elimination of PERL 

SSB 1213: Removing School Board Members for Violating Laws

Bills Monitored by IASB that Did Not Survive

HF 132: Online Continuing Education Course 

HF 133: Extending Continuing Education Deadlines 

HF 238: Parent Information Forms for Human Growth and Development Courses 

HF 246: Iowa Reading Research Center Appropriation 

HF 266: School District and AEA Enrollment Calculations 

HF 316 – District of Residence with Open Enrollment 

HF 385 - Open Enrollment Modifications 

HF 414 – Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Awareness 

HF 415 – Pledge of Allegiance (included in HF 847) 

HF 503: School Climate and Bullying Prevention Workgroup 

HF 564: Return-to-Learn Plans for Students with Concussions 

HF 611: Teacher Compensation for Additional Temporary Assignments 

HF 734 – Funding Reading Research Center (language put into HF 868) 

HF 778 – School Building Demolition 

HF 786 – Public Records Requests Costs 

HF 822 – Political Lobbying 

HSB 65: Rescinding Rule Requiring Seatbelts in New Buses  

HSB 235: Prohibits Entering into Contracts with Companies that Censor Content 

SF 42: Eliminates Common Core Requirements 

SF 55 – Carbon Monoxide Standards 

SF 59: Prohibits School Activities During Presidential Caucuses 

SF 80: Student Pronoun Preference 

SF 89: Requiring Cursive Instruction 

SF 174: Guns in schools 

SF 183: Construction Manager At Risk (CMAR) 

SF 222: School District and AEA Budget Enrollments 

SF 265 – Student Retention 

SF 270: Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention 

SF 310: Transitional Bilingual Education Pilot Program 

SF 425 – Expanding the Definition of Open Meetings 

SF 478 – Protecting First Amendment Rights 

SF 572 – Statute of Limitations 

SF 580 - Big Tech Censorship 

SF 590 – Creation of Land Banks 

SSB 1073: Purchase, Lease, or Lease-Purchase Powers for AEAs (included in SF 289) 

Essential Resources

2021 Legislative Guide
We are better together—a stronger voice in advocating for the needs of Iowa students and public education. This process consists of building relationships, telling the story of public education and brushing up on key legislative issues for 2021. As we continue to weather the effects of COVID-19, IASB will push for additional resources to help get students back on track, reliable and on-time funding, supports for mental health resources in schools, and ensuring preschool is funded so all 4 and 5-year-olds have access to crucial early education.

This advocacy guide includes background information on key issues, an in-depth look at issues for the 2021 legislative session, talking points and tips for you to use with legislators, and IASB resources that will help you advocate on behalf of your district.

View Advocacy Guide

Advocacy Action of the Week

The legislative session always ends with a flurry of activity but as the dust settles, it is important that you and your boards look for advocacy opportunities during the interim months. 

One thing you can do is write or email your legislators thanking them for the positive things that happened this session. Even if you do not agree with your legislators on most things there were several items that received a lot of bi partisan support. Here are a couple “wins” that you can thank them for: 

  • Funding increases (SSA, raising the cost per pupil by $10, additional English language learner funding for those that most need it) 
  • Mental Health (telehealth reimbursement parity, adding mental health professionals to operational sharing positions) 
  • Flexibility in board operations (Transferring general fund dollars to the Student Activity Fund, substitute teacher authorizations, eliminating duplicative reports) 
  • Creating a process to get additional funds for preschool enrollment in the 2021-22 school year 

Legislators commented during the session that board members should be contacting them throughout the year and not just during the legislative session. Make it a point to host your legislators or sit down with them to discuss these issues.  

One idea that many legislators liked was having a zoom meeting with 1-2 people from area boards to meet and discuss issues. These 30–45-minute zoom meetings   provided answers and insights to legislators on exactly how an issue would affect their area schools.  IASB can help facilitate this, especially if you want to do a zoom meeting jointly with several area school district boards. 

One way to meet with your legislators is to invite them to your board meeting when selecting your legislative priorities. This allows them to be part of the discussion on the biggest issues facing your district. Please set some time aside this summer to discuss and submit your priorities to IASB.  

Head to our Advocacy Center to submit your legislative priorities! 

Upcoming Advocacy Events

NSBA Advocacy Institute: Please consider registering for NSBA’s virtual Advocacy Institute June 8-10th. You will hear from elected leaders in the education field and several other national leaders from the Biden Administration. The event will culminate in our virtual hill visits with our Iowa elected officials. This event will also have breakout sessions to fine turn your advocacy skills and inform you on other federal education issues happening in Washington. We urge you to participate in this major virtual event championing public schools.   

End of Session Recap Podcast Coming Soon! Watch for a podcast recapping the 2021 legislative session soon! There was a lot of last-minute activity that impacts public schools so you will want to be sure to catch this podcast. Be sure to subscribe to Capitol Chats so that you are automatically notified when a new episode drops.  

REC Update

The Revenue Estimating Conference, or REC, met on March 19, 2021. Read IASB's full analysis

Federal Update

President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act on Thursday, March 11, now updated to include funding allocation by state, which amounts to $774 million for Iowa. Read IASB's full summary of the bill

Latest Podcast Episode

Capitol Chats:
Addressing the Inequity in Dropout Prevention and At-Risk Funding
IASB is making a big push to address the inequity in dropout prevention funding, which was created by the legislature. Our Government Relations team provides the background knowledge and tools you need to advocate for equitable funding. Then, Alex Smith, a board member from Waukee, joins us to talk about how his district uses these funds and why additional resources are needed in so many districts, including his.

Note: Episodes of the popular advocacy-focused Capitol Chats: Across the Aisle with IASB podcast will now be released through the BoardCast podcast for member convenience. Watch for the Capitol Chats name in the title for all advocacy episodes. Thanks for listening!

Priorities in Primetime Webinar Series

We have concluded our Priorities in Primetime webinar series, but you can watch recordings of the webinars. Each webinar focuses on one of our legislative priorities: SSA & School Funding, COVID-19 Remediation for Student Achievement, Mental Health, and Preschool.