‘Christmas tree’ bill likely headed to conference

Money TreeBy The Iowa Statesman


The standing appropriations bill — often referred to as “the standings bill,” or sometimes jokingly as “the Christmas tree bill” (for all of the “goodies” lobbyists will find in it) — is usually the last piece of legislation tackled before the end of the legislative session.

But, with the majority of the budget bills already in conference committee, the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate adopted its standings bill last Thursday on a party-line vote. House Republicans forged ahead with their own amended version of that bill on Wednesday evening, also on a party-line vote, all but ensuring it, too, will go to conference committee.

After more than two and a half hours — CLICK HERE to see video — of debate, Senate File 510, as amended, was adopted on a 54-42 vote. State Rep. Dawn Pettengill (R-Mount Auburn) was the lone Republican to vote against the bill. No Democrats voted to adopt the standings bill. State Reps. Bruce Bearinger (D-Oelwein), Mary Ann Hanusa (R-Council Bluffs), Norlin Mommsen (R-DeWitt), and Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City) were absent from the vote.

The House debated a Republican strike-after amendment that replaced all of the Senate Democrats’ appropriations and policy provisions contained in SF 510 with House Republican appropriations, and other policy provisions. There were 12 secondary amendments proposed to the primary amendment, most of which were proposed by Democrats — including one that would add Gov. Terry Branstad’s anti-bullying legislation — and were not adopted. The provisions of the omnibus gun bill were added as part of the Republican amendment.

The House amendment, as amended, was ruled not germane, but a motion to suspend the rules passed on a 54-36 vote. The amendment itself was adopted on a 54-42 vote.

Earlier in the day, the House adopted Senate File 500, which relates to family support programs including child support and establishment of paternity. In addition to making changes required by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the legislation also allows for the suspension of child support, if certain conditions are met, and amends the manner in which blood and genetic testing to determine paternity may be conducted.