Senate spars over health, human services spending

Iowa Senate OpeningBy Bob Eschliman


The Iowa Senate got into a party-line squabble over spending for health and human services in FY 2016. And, with $1.346 billion being discussed, the contention was of little surprise to any regular observers of the General Assembly.

Republicans offered a number of amendments to Senate File 505 they said were meant to provide additional accountability, which were each rejected by party-line votes. Among the Republican amendments offered were:

  • to require legislators in the General Assembly to undergo drug testing, and to prohibit any who fail a test from enrolling in the state health insurance program;
  • to prohibit illegal entrants from receiving any taxpayer-funded assistance;
  • to make Medicaid the payor of last resort for all recipients; and
  • to require mandatory drug testing for those enrolled in the Family Investment Program.

Democrats also offered their own amendments to create a home modification assistance program plan, and to ensure some technical changes were observed. They also amended a Republican amendment, originally meant to require asset tests for Medicaid recipients, to rely on the system promoted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Both amendments were adopted.

Following a lengthy and, at times, contentious debate, senators adopted the appropriations bill on a 26-22 vote. State Sens. Tim Kraayenbrink (R-Fort Dodge) and Mark Segebart (R-Vail) were absent and excused from the final vote on SF 505.

The Senate also took up the following bills that were adopted on strict party-line votes:

  • House File 659 – the administration and regulation appropriations bill, amended.
  • House File 658 – the education appropriations bill, amended.

Senators also took up Senate File 503, an act to require a review of fees collected by the county sheriffs. The proposed legislation was adopted unanimously with Kraayenbrink absent and excused from the vote.

The Senate also refused to concur with House amendments to the following bills:

  • Senate File 496 – the Judicial Branch appropriations bill,
  • Senate File 494 – the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, et al. appropriations bill,
  • Senate File 499 – the Iowa Economic Development Authority appropriations bill, and
  • Senate File 497 – the justice system appropriations bill.


CLICK HERE to see video of the morning debate.

CLICK HERE to see video of the first half of the afternoon debate.

CLICK HERE to see video of the second half of the afternoon debate.