The Week -- You can't spell funnel without fun

Legislative deadline slays, spares all sorts of issues

Todd Dorman
Published: February 21 2014 | 9:47 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:58 am in

So we've arrived at the end of the Legislature's "Funnel Week." And if you're a normal, well-adjusted person with a life to live, you have no idea what that is.

But it's a very big deal under the golden bio-dome in Dez Moines. Bills that don't clear a full House or Senate committee by the time lawmakers finish the workweek, or flee a blizzard like a flock of big 'ol chickens, is considered dead for the session.

Ah, but there are caveats. The funnel does not apply to "money bills," taxes, budget stuff, etc.

And nothing is really dead until legislators call it a session, because procedural maneuvers, horse-trading and such. I've seen zombies signed into law with my own eyes.

I happen to have a soft spot for the funnel, which you can't spell without "fun." Or "fu." I actually apply the concept to my own life. Every year, about this time, all the silly resolutions, outlandish goals and irresponsible plans I make at New Year's time face my own funnel deadline.

"Hey, weren't you going to lose weight and read more and not be such a lazy boozy lump?"

"Yeah. But all that stuff died in the funnel. Real shame. But procedural hurdles are all that separate us from the beasts. I will now adjourn to the couch."

As for the legislative funnel, lots of stuff lived, and more stuff died. (see list below) For example, if you want to shoot off legal fireworks, you still have some hope. But if you're a sick person who hoped to get some relief from legal medical marijuana, your hopes were dashed. The nanny state moves in mysterious ways, huh?

A bill legalizing marijuana for medical purposes died the day it was introduced. Despite compelling testimony from ill Iowans, and the parents of sick children, lawmakers still fear the reefer too much to do what's right and overwhelmingly popular.  And despite clear evidence from New Mexico that a medical marijuana program can be carefully crafted and executed responsibly.

In an editorial, the Quad-City Times nails it:

What lawmakers also won't admit is that this is inevitable. Medical marijuana will be legal in Iowa. All its Statehouse critics are doing is make sick people and their families wait, or seek treatment in friendlier states. That's all opposition accomplishes, pain and frustration. It doesn't make anyone safer. It doesn't win the war on drugs. And, contrary to their antique views, it doesn't help them politically.

John Deeth sums it up nicely:

But a bill that would drop Iowa's 76-year ban on the sale of fireworks remains alive, for now.

The bill, SSB 3182, would allow the sale of what are known as "consumer fireworks" to Iowans over 18. "Display fireworks," the big stuff, would remain illegally, except for pros who put on professional shows. Local governments still could enact their own fireworks sale bans.

It cleared the Senate State Government Committee on a bipartisan 10-5 vote. I don't expect it to be debated in the full Senate, although I doubted it would clear the funnel. Maybe they'll surprise me gain.

The debate has not been surprising. Safety advocates, firefighters groups, etc., argue that more people will be burned, maimed and killed if bottle rockets, firecrackers and the like become available in Iowa. Of course, they already are available, thanks to enterprising stands just outside Iowa. And Iowa's existing law, even though it's, apparently, all that stands between us and the wages of conflagration, is lightly enforced.

The Register's editorial board says no way, prominently citing a fatal accident in 2000 involving teenagers in a car where a bunch of fireworks were ignited by a Roman candle. A tragedy to be sure, and a fair point against lifting the ban. But then the DMR reaches back a little further into history:

Could be because no legislators are pushing 95.

Mentioning Spencer within the historic context of why the ban originally was passed is swell and informative. Arguing that it remains among a set of valid reasons to ban fireworks in 2014 is known in the trade as reaching.

The consumer fireworks addressed by the bill must meet standards set out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, created in the 1970s. So the fireworks at issue now are not the same as the ones available in the 1930s. Along with a lot of things that have changed since the 30s, firefighting techniques and technology, sprinkler systems, building codes, etc. And the Remsen fire was started by a sparkler, which are legal in Iowa. Along with caps and those weird snakes.

If this legislation lives on, fire safety must be part of the discussion. A discussion set in the 21st Century.

And, with no further ado, here's Gazette Des Moines Bureau Chief Rod Boshart's exhaustive funnel alive/dead list:


Increase state gas tax (HSB514)

Establish state regulations for traffic enforcement cameras (HF2202)

Raise minimum wage (SSB3194)

Strengthen anti-bullying/harassment efforts in schools (SSB3149/HSB525)

Regulate government and private use of drones (HF2289/SF2157)

Exempt military retirement pay from state income taxes (SF303)

Expand access to broadband (HSB515/SSB3119)

Legalize sale, purchase, possession, use of fireworks (SSB3182)

Toughen penalties for prostitution/pimping (HF2254)

Ban abortion services via telemedicine (HF2175)

Prohibit access by minor to e-cigarettes (HF2109)

Allow private employers to give veterans hiring preference (HF2234)

Revamp sentencing for juveniles facing Class A convictions (HSB505/SSB3146)

Bar minors from tanning devices (SF2174/HF2030)

Expand statewide preschool program (SSB3155)

Tougher protections against elder abuse (SF2117/HF2106)

Revise state child-care assistance eligibility guidelines (HF2070/SF2251)

Boost penalty for murdering a peace officer (HF2114)

Expand apprenticeship/job training program (SSB3052)

Approve buyout to end live dog racing (HSB621)

Restore felons’ voting rights (SF127)

Increase penalty for kidnapping minors (SSB3079/HF2253)

Require state rules for restraining pregnant inmates (SF2190)

Broaden civil commitment for sexual predators (SSB3076)

Require annual reports of military sexual assaults (SF2111)

Establish state health insurance exchange (SF2112)

Create misdemeanor crime for knowingly allowing underage drinking (SF2146

Verify income, assets, and identity of Medicaid recipients to prevent fraud (HF2275)

Extend court protections to pets in domestic abuse cases (SF2118)

Legalize fantasy sports games (SF2148/HF2128)

Clarify sexting law dealing with text messages (SF2174)

Require Taser training for law enforcement personnel (SF2187)

Establish alternative services formerly provided by Iowa Juvenile Home (SF2084)

Change gun permit requirements for military members (HF2143)

Establish urban-ag academy with Board of Regents (HF2210)

Establish screening for dyslexia (SF2070)

Establish statewide emergency warning task force (SF2137)

Establish refugee family support services (SF2176)

Require handicap-accessible gas pumps (SF401)

Add fine arts to core curriculum at schools (SF3048)

Allow cities to regulate/restrict rental occupancy (SSB3068/HF184)

Allow online/electronic voter registration (HF2243/SSB3130)

Change snowmobile regulations for some minors (SSB3179)

Freeze resident tuition at state universities

Establish mass notification/emergency messaging fund (HSB595/SSB3104)

Create derelict building grant program (HSB655)

Allow ATV operation on secondary roads (HSB662)

Establish Iowa employment rides initiative (SF2076)

Issue Sullivan Brothers award of valor license plates (SF2108)

Extend school merger/consolidation initiative (SF2056/HSB558)

Protect children’s identity from theft (HF2116)

Maintain local school board control over curriculum (HSB592)

Establish Iowa suicide prevention center in Iowa Department of Education (SF2173/HF2245)

Expand strip searches at county jails/city holding facilities (HF2174)

Revamp crimes for contagious/infectious disease transmissions (SF2086)

Authorize state to issue paddlefish licenses (HF2171)

Authorize silver alerts for missing seniors (SF2189)

Authorize possession of certain offensive weapons (HF384)

Increase mo-ped speed limit from 30 to 39 mph (SF2192)

Establish philanthropy accounts in schools (SF2129)

Extend time for sexually abused minors to bring civil/criminal actions (SF2109)

Expand electronic reporting of campaign finances (SF2119)

Allocate an extra $2 million to low-income heating assistance (SF2110)

Increase K-12 state aid by 6 percent in fiscal 2016

Crack down on wage theft in employment (SF191)

Change K-12 forward-funding law (HF2194)

Require health insurers to distribute excess revenue to policyholders (SF2183)

Add jailers to interference with official acts statute (HF2133)

Provide licensure help for veterans/spouses (HF2319)

Extend sales tax rebate for Iowa Speedway in Newton (SSB3162)

Add jailers to coverage of interference with official acts offense (HF2133)

Establish Gideon fellowship in state public defender’s office (HF2132)

Expand spay/neuter services with tax checkoff/license plate (HF2123/SF2106)


Legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes (SF2215)

Use general fund money to supplement road use tax fund (SF2149/SF2042/SF2072)

Create disclosure requirements for meth homes up for sale (SF2001)

Shift regulation of Voice over Internet Protocol services

Create misdemeanor charge for assaulting referee at sports events (SF2158)

Require Iowa Executive Council to establish a litigation budget (SSB3078)

Allow retail sales at micro distilleries (HF2173)

Allow sale of raw milk (HSB131)

Allow hand-fishing for catfish (SF2011)

Cut daily expense money for lawmakers by 10 days each session (HF2161)

Equip new school buses with safety belts/harnesses after July 1 (HF2117)

Establish family courts in Judicial Branch (HF2185)

Authorize reasonable/deadly force protections (HF2113)

Amend Iowa Constitution to protect right to keep/bear arms (HJR4/6)

Establish five-year “sunset” for state administrative rules (SF2125)

Allow cause of civil action for abortion procedures (HF2098)

Bar health insurance coverage for elective abortions (HF2096)

Allow passenger parents to be ticketed for child-restraint violations (SF2008)

Close gun-show loophole for gun sales (SF2179)

Bar slaughter/use of horse meet as human food (SF2178)

Prohibit state help for NSA spying (SF2172)

Bar employers from knowingly hiring unauthorized aliens (SF2171)

Decriminalize possession of marijuana (HF2313)

Provide employers religious conscience protections regarding abortion health benefits (SF2153)

Create deferred benefit retirement alternative for public employees hired after July 1, 2016 (SF2126)

Allow video game tournaments (HF2072)

Establish criminal offense for service dog abuse (SF2033)

Prohibit hidden compartments in vehicles (SF2036)

Cut state income taxes by 20 percent (SF2048)

Establish offense of violent habitual offender (SF2073)

Keep 911 tape confidential/release written transcript (SF2074)

Issue temporary driver’s licenses to certain foreign nationals (SF2087)

Exempt sales tax on investment counseling services (SF2088)

Direct $1 million to DOT safe routes to school program (SF2097)

Allow attorney general to seek court orders to intercept human trafficking communications (SF2098)

Cap medical malpractice “noneconomic” damages at $500,000 (SF2099)

Allow NRC rules to hunt deer with crossbows (SF2100)

Require background check for community college employees (HF2246)

Create grants for food waste diversions to landfills (HF2240)

Allow engagement in lawful occupations free from substantial regulation (SF2237)

Increase proof of insurance coverage for accident damages (HF2233)

Rename Commission on Status of African Americans to include Africans (HF2221)

Increase minimum jail time and fines for all drunken driving charges (HF2220)

Require counties to accept used home appliances for reuse, recycle or disposal (HF2212)

Grant immunity to someone seeking medical help for a drop overdose (HF2207)

Remove court record for dismissed charge or not guilty finding (HF2206)

Bar Iowa Department of Education from adopting/implementing core standards (HF2205/SF2123)

Allocate $18 million to create solar energy initiative at three regent universities (HF2203/SF2005)

Register/license new motorsports recreational vehicles (SF2198)

Require DOT public hearing before changing intersection speed limits (HF2177)

Beef up incentives for solar energy (SF2107)

Create governor’s award for law officers’ human trafficking rescues (HF2145)

Establish exposure (other than spouse) as a disorderly conduct criminal offense (HF2144)

Eliminate “braiding” from definition of cosmetology (HF2135)

Exempt pawn brokers from usury provisions (HF2111)

Allow partial/monthly payments of property taxes (HF2099)

Provide education savings grants for private/home schoolers (HF2090/SF2154)

Modify school placement of twins and multiples (HF2188)

Create income tax credit for qualified adoption expenses (HF2082)

Lower age for handgun possession/training from 14 to 12 (SF2014/HF2012)

Allow small towns to hold elections via absentee ballots (HF2065)

License midwives (HF2178/SF2152)

Provide parental access to minors’ library records (HF2055)

Modify eminent domain guidelines (HF2048)

Increase penalty for animal neglect/torture (SF2020/2021)

Require voter approval from residents within 250-mile radius of proposed nuclear plant (HF2047)

Require licensing of music therapists (HF2190/SF2116)

Look at reorganizing state government into no more than 10 departments (HF2026)

Curb local inspections of sewage disposal systems (HF2081)

Bar taking or attempting to take a cougar (HF2303)

Impose moratorium on mining of silica sand (HF2298)

Move right when being passed on highway (HF2294)

Require schools to display “in God we trust” motto (HF2282)

Expand spay/neuter services with tax checkoff/license plate (HF2123/SF2106)


Reinstate limited death penalty (SF76/SF167)

Ban use of hand-held cell phones while driving (HF412)

Ban smoking in gaming areas of state-licensed casinos (HF411/SF113)

Legalize Internet poker via state-licensed casinos (SSB1068)

Authorize limited gambling on fantasy sports games (HF378)

Raise speed limit to 60 mph on two-lane primary and hard-surface roads (SF11)

Bar underage sale/ consumption/possession of energy drinks (HF432)

Bar body piercing for minors; require state permits for body piercing businesses (HF450)

Restrict county-issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples (HF444)

Create income tax exemption credit for unborn children; increase overall credits (HF440)

Impose moratorium on issuance of state gambling licenses (SF40)

Abolish no-fault divorce for Iowa couples with children (HF338)

Require drug testing for state assistance recipients (SF147)

Amend Iowa constitution to impose term limits on elected officials (HJR9)

Strike mourning dove hunting season (HF291)

Require safety helmets for motorized bike operators under age 18 years (SF37)

Recognize gold/silver as legal tender (HF346)

Require state lawmakers to pay at least 20 percent of health insurance premium (SF137)

Create office of chancellor to guide state universities under Board of Regents (SF136)

Ban use of traffic enforcement cameras on state and local highways (SF21)

Require hormonal intervention therapy for convicted sex offenders (SF64)

Prohibit permits to drill oil/gas well using hydraulic fracturing (HF128)

Require drug testing for recipients of state assistance (SF147)

Allow eligible employee leave to attend parent-teacher conferences (HF407)

Prohibit nuclear plans from reprocessing spent fuel into weapons-grade material (HF400)

Impose sanctions against parents if their children engage in harassment/ bullying (HF143)

Require labeling to identified genetically engineered food (SF194/HF463)

Authorize possession of offensive weapons like machine guns or sawed-off shotguns (HF384)

Amend Iowa constitution to define marriage as only one man and one woman (HJR11/SJR5)

Abolish Iowa Department of Education and state Board of Education (SF336)

Authorize schools to adopt mandatory uniform policy/dress codes (SF56)

Bar regulation of firearms/ammunition during state of public emergency (HF74)

Set five-year repeal for all state rules (SF324)

Create taxpayer-funded education savings vouchers for public and private schools (SF323)

Bar bonus pay for state employees effective July 1 -- excluding regent employees (HF379)

Abolish county compensation boards (SF243)

Modify conditions for use of justifiable/reasonable force (SF255)

Require population impact statements on all legislation (HF296)

Ban use of false/secret compartment in motor vehicle (SF228)

Make mental health professionals mandatory reporters of potential serious harm (SF233)

Establish facility to house sex offenders needing medical/personal care (HF206)

Create mandatory life prison term for killing first responder (SF233)

Conduct cost-benefit analysis for new highway rest areas (SF55)

Allow person with permit to carry gun on school grounds (HF169/SF251)

Allow school employees to get permit to carry gun in school (HF172)

Strike tiered corporate income tax and set 6 percent uniform rate (SF260)

Exempt some bars from smoke-free air requirements (SF263)

Amend Iowa constitution to provide home rule for school districts (SJR6)

Amend Iowa Constitution to make House term lengths staggered, four years (SJR2)

Allow bigger motors on boats operating on Lake Macbride (SF124)

Amend Iowa constitution to hold biennial, not annual legislative sessions (SJR3)

Create passing distances for motor vehicles overtaking bicycles (HF151/SF157)

Bar opening vehicle door into moving traffic if not safe (SF164)

Amend Iowa constitution to remove age restriction on state militia (SJR1)

Set criteria for bass fishing tournaments in public waters (SF229)

Create state lottery game with proceeds benefitting people with multiple sclerosis (SF26)

Prohibit late-term abortions with certain exceptions (SF45)

Allow state to opt out of unfunded federal health care mandates (SF47)

Authorize interim study of eliminating the Iowa income tax (SR6)

Nullify federal Patient Protection/Affordable Care Act (SF81)

Verify Social Security numbers for applicants for public funded programs (SF175/SF43)

Amend Iowa constitution to establish spending/taxing limitations (HJR2)

Use revenue from traffic cameras to create uninsured vehicle coverage trust fund (SF44)

Waive tuition and fees at state universities for Iowa National Guard members (SF54)

Expand private-sector employee drug testing law (SF68)

Impose constitutional limits on Legislature’s spending/taxing authority (HJR2)

Require electronic monitoring of all juvenile and adult registered sex offenders (SF63)

Eliminate “good time” sentence reductions for inmates convicted of serious sex offense (SF62)

Place moratorium on regulations affecting sale of unprocessed food (SF61)

Protect Iowans from application of foreign laws (HF76)

Bar employers/schools from seeking access to personal Internet accounts (HF127)

Bar labor unions from knowingly collecting dues from illegal immigrants (SF103)

Prohibit U.N. “Agenda 21” environmental action plan for sustainable development in Iowa (HF66)

Amend Iowa constitution with “right to life” protection (HJR12)

Require helmets for all motorcycle/motorized bike operators/passengers (HF470)

Create individual/corporate tax credit for contribution to home school grant group (HF464)

Require Board of Regents to publish annual report on overtime pay (HF462)

Establish world language education pilot project (HF437)

Study creation of fourth regent university in Iowa or “regents outpost” (HF436)

Exempt home school students from compulsory ed requirements (SF277)

Adopt abortion restrictions to define a “person” at conception; bar some contraception (HF138)

Bar Iowans from buying foreign-made U.S. flags (HF147)

Create Iowa State Board for Blind and Deaf Education to oversee state’s two special schools (HF145)

Eliminate state authority to waive school start date before Sept. 1 (HF315)

Bar city parking citations for Purple Heart recipients (SF210)


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