The Thompson Times

State Rep. Mark Thompson

This past week was the second funnel week. A short explanation--Bills had to pass a floor vote in the chamber where it was introduced AND make it through a committee in the opposite chamber.  But wait...not all bills that fail to meet the deadline are dead.

     Lawmakers can still resurrect proposals in a number of ways, like adding them as amendments to other bills. The deadlines also don't apply to tax-related and spending bills.

In other words, nothing is over until the final gavel falls.

House Passes Second School Security Bill--Infrastructure

     In the wake of the tragic shooting in Perry, Iowans have demanded workable and effective school security measures. A recent poll in the Des Moines Register indicated 60 percent of Iowans supported the House plan to thoroughly train and arm school personnel who volunteer to serve in such a capacity inside school buildings. As mentioned in floor debate during the first school security bill, there were plans to move forward with additional school security plans during this legislature session. 

On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that looks at school safety from the side of infrastructure.

HF 2652

•Requires schools to conduct a safety review of their ability to keep students and staff safe and share their review with law enforcement.

•Establishes a task force to put together a gold standard of school safety building codes. 

•Requires districts to focus on improvements to school safety before building or renovating athletic facilities.

•Creates a pilot program for gun detection software that works with existing school cameras.

•Uses federal ARPA (America Rescue Plan Act) money to ensure every school building has an emergency radio.

     This bill also deals with how schools can get help or send for help if an emergency arises. Schools are allowed to have a mobile panic alert system if it can connect to emergency services and integrates with local public safety answering points. This is a mobile phone application districts can utilize. The Governor’s office previously developed a grant program for emergency radios. Many schools took advantage of that grant, but some did not. The Governor’s office has said that they plan to re-open that grant program to make sure all schools can have access to funding for the radios. If schools do not take advantage, they will be required to use their own funds. We await Senate action.

HF2401--Protecting Local Pharmacies 

     This week we passed HF 2401 to protect our local pharmacies facing unfair practices from Pharmacy Benefit Managers, the middlemen known as PBMs.  A few years ago, we passed a bill that allowed the Iowa Insurance Division to regulate PBMs. Since they have received over 70,000 complaints about PBMs from Iowa pharmacies.  We are seeing rural pharmacies close down at an alarming rate. Without local pharmacies, Iowa families and older Iowans have a harder time accessing the pharmaceuticals deserve. According to the Iowa Pharmacy Association survey of community pharmacies in October 2023, 40.8% of responding pharmacies indicated they expect to close or sell in 2024. 

     This bill will help Iowa pharmacies be reimbursed at a fair price for services they perform and drugs they administer. House Vote: 93 aye, 3 nay. We await senate action.

HF2488-Prior Authorization

     This past week I was able to visit one of the hospitals in District 56.  Iowa Specialty Hospital is where I was born years ago.  So much has changed to the structure in positive ways; now offering a wide range of services in several towns and cities.  There have been changes to medicine as well.  Some of the bureaucratic changes hinder the timely and efficient care doctors work to provide. 

     During my hospital visit, the conversation from most of the staff, along with emails from those not able to attend, was about Prior Authorization for services. At some point this wait for authorization from insurance companies may affect most of us and could/is affecting the timely medical procedures of patients. The House passed HF2488 -Prior Authorization unanimously in February. This bill sets up timelines for response from health insurers on prior authorizations, requires insurers to review health care services that require prior authorization, requires a prior authorization exemption program with each health insurer and a report submitted to the Insurance Division on the effectiveness of their program. It has passed the Senate Committee with a recommendation of an amendment. It is my hope this can get moved forward and end up on the Governor's desk this session.

House File 2637: Adoption Tax Credit

     Right now, an adoption tax credit exists with a maximum amount of $5,000. Since that tax cut was created, the cost of adoption has skyrocketed, often totally more than $30,000. The heartbreaking reality is that the ridiculously high cost of adoption can prevent a child from a loving parents who have often yearned for children for many years.

      HF 2637 increases the adoption tax credit from $5,000 to $20,000. This legislation is needed to encourage strong families to adopt from loving and courageous birth mothers. It passed unanimously in the House. We await senate action.

HF2605 - Hemp Regulations

    This limits the amount of THC in consumable hemp products. Prohibits the sale of these consumable hemp products to a person under the age of 21. Ensures hemp regulations can be enforced by Health and Human Services.  Requires warning labels on consumable hemp products. This bill does not affect the medical products prescribed by a doctor for a list of medical conditions. We await Senate action.

Two Grooming Bills Continue in the Senate- HF2487 and HF2602

     A second bill regarding grooming made it through the second funnel and is on the Senate Calendar. HF2487 deals more with educational environment grooming of minors, the penalties, and definitions. It lays out different levels of inappropriate relationships as well as adds a definition of "grooming behavior." It also adds abuse of a student as an ethical violation that a district would be required to report to the Board of Education. Removes 3-year statute of limitations for soliciting, encourage, or consummating a romantic or otherwise inappropriate relationship with a student. The bill states the BOEE shall send information on a crime being committed to law enforcement.

HF2602 - Grooming previously discussed, also made it past the second funnel. It applies to grooming online or in person and increases the penalty to a class "D" felony. This is also on the Senate Calendar, and we await their action.

This year there were approximately 275 House bills that made it through the first funnel.  As of March 15, the House has sent 141 bills to the Senate. 


The Leader

The Leader 
365 State Street, Garner, IA 50438
Phone: 1-641-923-2684
Fax: 1-800-340-0805

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