2021 End of Session Report

21 May 2021 2:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Funding Hiked For Children’s Mental Health School Based Program 

The ISSWA-backed Children’s Mental Health School Based Training and Support Program is growing by $1 million.

For the first two years, the program was funded at $2.1 million. Thanks to ISSWA’s support for the program, the Legislature has given its approval to a $1.0 million dollar increase, bringing the total appropriation to $3.1 million for the 2022 fiscal year.

The funds will be used by area education agencies to provide mental health awareness training for educators, support for the mental health needs of schools, and maintain a clearinghouse of mental health resources.


BOEE Recognition Loophole Closed

Thanks to the efforts of the ISSWA, a loophole allowing non-Board of Educational Examiners recognized persons to offer mental health services to students, is now closed.

The provisions in Senate File 532, which was signed into law by Governor Reynolds, requires all mental health professionals providing services to students for a school to have a Board of Educational Examiners recognition.

Thanks again to all the ISSWA members who helped in this important effort.



Anti-Face Mask Provisions Added To Education Policy Bill

During the evening of the final day of the 2021 Session of the Legislative Session, a public health amendment was added to an education policy bill. 

Specifically, added to House File 847 are provisions to prevent cities, counties and school districts from requiring persons to wear face coverings (aka face masks.) 

In a most unusual move, the bill was approved that evening and signed into law by the Governor that night.


Children's MH Gets Boost in Health and Human Services Spending Bill

An increase of $3.9 million for psychiatric medical institutions for children (PMICs) provider rates highlights the hikes in mental health spending included in the Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill, House File 891.

The bill also Increases the funding used to reduce the children's mental health HCBS waiver waiting list by $1,031,530.

No word yet on when the Governor will consider the bill.


Telehealth Parity For Mental Health Services Approved

A major step forward in providing mental health services in Iowa is now awaiting the approval of Governor Reynolds.

Included in Senate File 619, the omnibus tax policy bill, is provision that will require insurance companies to reimburse mental health services delivered via telehealth at the same rate as they would for in person services.


Growing a Diverse Teacher Pre K - 12 Teacher Base Task Force Created

The Education Appropriations Bill, HF 868, includes the creation of a task force to expand the number of students interested in teaching careers.

The group will be convened by the Director of the Department of Education in consultation with Jobs for America's Graduates (iJAG) and include representatives from public and private institutions of higher education engaged in practitioner preparation; representatives from state agencies engaged in practitioner preparation and licensure; and representatives from area education agencies and school districts, including but not limited to teachers administrators, and counselors, particularly those involved in competency-based education.

The task force will recommend methods to attract, engage, and retain a high number of participants to make up a diverse teacher workforce that reflects the growing diverse population of students across Iowa, both rural and urban.

The task force shall submit a report regarding its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislative or administrative rule changes, to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the State Board of Education by December 15, 2021.


Bills passed by both chambers:

HF 868 - Education Appropriations (F) - Included in this bill is a $3.1 million appropriation for the continuation of the Student Mental Health School-Based Program.

The bill also adds “a mental health professional who holds a statement of recognition issued by the Board of Educational Examiners to the list of eligible operations functions and positions eligible for supplementary weighting.”

Approved by the House 51-38. Amended and approved by the Senate 28-17. Approved by the House 54-35. Awaiting Governor’s action.


HF 847 - Education Policy Omnibus - With Some Public Health Added (M) - Included in this education policy bill are provisions that prohibit cities, counties and school districts from requiring persons to wear face coverings (aka face masks.) 

The bill also makes a temporary change to the Shared Operations Functions formula for the 22-24 school years, by reducing the calculation by one pupil and allowing for the movement of funds under the new Flexible Student and School Support Program.

Passed the House 62-33. Amended and Passed by the Senate 42-6. Amendment and Passed by the House 53-34.  Signed into law by the Governor 5/19/21.


HF 813 (formerly HSB 242) - Charter Schools (A) - The bill establishes a new charter school program.  The legislation does not require that a charter school employ a school counselor.

Approved by the House 55-40. Approved by the Senate Education Committee. Approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Approved by the Senate 30-18. Awaiting Governor's action.


HF 802 - Training Rules and Requirements (A) - This bill provides requirements related to racism or sexism training, and to diversity and inclusion efforts, at or by school districts and public postsecondary educational institutions.

Approved by the House 59-38. Amended and approved by the Senate 30-18. Approved by the House 53-35. Awaiting Governor's action.


SF 619 (formerly SSB 1276) - Omnibus Tax Policy and Extras (F) - Included in this 72-page bill is a provision that provides for payment parity for mental health services delivered via telehealth.

Approved by the Senate 28-17. Approved by the House 64-28. Awaiting Governor’s action.


SF 532 (formerly SSB 1231) - BOEE Recognition and Certification (F) - The bill as amended by the Senate would require all mental health professionals providing services to a student for a school to have a Board of Educational Examiners recognition.

Approved by the Senate 47-0. Amended and approved by the House 93-0. Approved by the Senate 46-0. Signed into law by the Governor 5/10/21.


SF 524 (formerly SSB 1227) - Psych Bed Tracking (F) - This bill establishes an inpatient psychiatric bed tracking system study committee.

The department of public health shall submit a report of the study committee detailing the committee’s findings and recommendations, including a proposed date to implement real-time electronic data tracking, to the general assembly and the governor no later than December 15, 2021.

Passed the Senate 48-0. Amended and passed by the House 92-0. Passed by the Senate 90-0. Awaiting Governor's Action.


SF 160 - In-Person Learning (A) - This bill, a priority of Governor Reynolds, sets forth the criteria for a school district to provide in-person instruction.

Passed the Senate 29-18; Passed the House 59-39. Signed into law by Governor Reynolds 1/29/21.




Key bills that remain eligible for consideration in 2022:

SF 354 (formerly SF 163) - CEU Hardship Relief (M) - The bill authorizes a licensing board to extend the deadline to satisfy continuing education requirements by up to 90 days if a board finds that a licensee is experiencing an unforeseen financial or medical hardship and the licensee submits a request to a licensing board to extend the deadline due to the financial or medical hardship accompanied by evidence that the licensee or a member of the licensee’s family is experiencing a financial or medical hardship.

Passed the Senate 48-0. Approved by subcommittee


SF 258 (formerly SF 117) - Surtax for School Safety Officers (M) - This bill authorizes school districts to raise additional amounts of property tax or income surtax under the instructional support program for certain school resource officer expenses.

Approved by the Ed Committee. Approved by Ways and Means Subcommittee


SF 224 - School Bathrooms (M) - This bill requires elementary and secondary public and nonpublic schools to designate and allow the use of multiple occupancy toilet facilities only by persons of the same biological sex. The bill prohibits a person from entering a school single and multiple occupancy toilet facility that does not correspond with the person’s biological sex.

Approved by subcommittee


SF 168 - AEA Special Ed Service Mandate (M) - This bill requires that certain services and support that an area education agency (AEA) must provide to a nonpublic school student must, if the parent or guardian of the student receiving the services grants permission, be provided on the nonpublic school premises.

Approved by subcommittee


SF 159 (formerly SSB 1065) - Governor’s Public Education Plan (A) - The bill relates to the funding and operation of educational offerings in the state by establishing a student first scholarship program for certain pupils attending a nonpublic school, modifying provisions governing voluntary diversity plans, and creating a new charter school program.

Approved by the Senate 26-21. Referred to House Education.


SF 80 - Student Pronouns (A) - This bill requires a school district, if a student will be asked by a school employee or in a school communication to identify the pronoun by which the student prefers to be called, or will be asked to take a survey on pronoun preference, to provide written notification of such action to the parent or guardian of the student at least one week before such action occurs. After the identification or survey has occurred, the bill requires the school district to provide the student’s identification or survey response to the student’s parent or guardian upon request.

Subcommittee: Sinclair, Carlin and Celsi


SF 58 - Human Growth and Development Curriculum (F) - This bill provides that the age-appropriate and research-based instruction in human growth and development, which each school board must provide, must include instruction regarding dating violence and affirmative, conscious, and voluntary consent to engage in sexual activity.

Subcommittee: Sinclair, Rosenboom and J Smith


SSB 1070 - Safe and Sound Program (A) - This bill provides for the establishment of the safe and sound program within the department of public safety, for participation in or use of the program by schools and students, and for penalties for providing false identification information through the program.

The safe and sound program is established for purposes of developing and implementing a system for receiving anonymous reports and other information from the public in regard to potential self-harm and potential harm or criminal acts including threats of violence, sexual abuse, assault, or bullying directed at school students and school entities.

The proposal does not provide anonymity for those who make reports of suspected incidents of concern.  The bill also provides immunity from liability to the department of public safety yet does not provide such protections for school employees.

Not approved by subcommittee


HF 773 (formerly HF 479) - MH Services Study (F) - This bill requires the department of human services (DHS) to conduct a statewide study of the current availability of mental health services in the state, including the potential value of pursuing a section 1115 demonstration waiver as specified under the federal 21st Century Cures Act, to provide for reimbursement for services provided in settings that qualify as institutions for mental diseases. DHS shall submit a final report of the results of the study to the governor and to the  general assembly by February 15, 2022. The bill takes effect upon enactment.

On House debate calendar


HF 585 (formerly HSB 76) - Safe and Sound Program (A) - This bill provides for the establishment of the safe and sound program within the department of public safety, for participation in or use of the program by schools and students, and for penalties for providing false identification information through the program.

The safe and sound program is established for purposes of developing and implementing a system for receiving anonymous reports and other information from the public in regard to potential self-harm and potential harm or criminal acts including threats of violence, sexual abuse, assault, or bullying directed at school students and school entities.

Disappointingly the proposal as written does not provide anonymity for those who make reports of suspected incidents of concern.  The bill also provides immunity from liability to the department of public safety yet does not provide such protections for school employees.

On the House debate calendar.


HF 564 - Post Concussion Return-to-Learn (M) - This bill provides that return-to-learn plans for a student removed from participation in an extracurricular interscholastic activity and diagnosed with a concussion or brain injury shall be developed for students in grades 7 through 12 based on protocols supported by guidelines of the centers for disease control and prevention of the United States department of health and human services.

Approved by subcommittee


HF 431 (formerly HF 88) - Audio Only Telehealth (M) - This bill provides that, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a health-related professional licensing board that authorizes the use of telehealth or telemedicine by health-related professionals shall amend or adopt administrative rules to allow a health-related professional under the purview of the appropriate licensing board to utilize telehealth or telemedicine to deliver health care services through the use of interactive audio-only communication.

Passed the House 92-0. Subcommittee: Costello, Mathis and Sweeney


HF 294 (formerly HF 89) - MH Telehealth Care (F) - This bill requires a health carrier to reimburse a health care professional or a facility for health care services for a mental health condition, illness, injury, or disease provided to a covered person via telehealth on the same basis and at the same rate as the health carrier would apply to the same health care services provided to the covered person by the health care professional or facility in person.

On House debate calendar


HF 262 (formerly HSB 51) - Emergency Refills (M) - This bill provides that in addition to existing provisions relating to the refilling of a prescription without prescriber authorization, a pharmacist may exercise professional judgment 18 and refill a prescription once in a 12-month period and may dispense an amount not to exceed a 30-day supply, or if the standard amount of dispensing exceeds a 30-day supply or is unit dosed, an amount not to exceed the standard supply or limit of dispensing.

Passed the House 91-0. Referred to Human Resources


HF 154 - Human Growth and Development Curriculum (M) - This bill provides that the age-appropriate and research-based instruction in human growth and development, which each school board must provide, must include instruction regarding dating violence and affirmative, conscious, and voluntary consent to engage in sexual activity.

Referred to Education


HF 101 - Teacher Recruitment and Retention Task Force (M) - This bill directs the director of the department of education to establish and convene a teacher recruitment and retention task force. If the bill does move forward it should be expanded to include school counselor recruitment and retention.

Referred to Education


HF 51 - Advanced Opportunities Program (M) - This bill establishes within the department of education, subject to an appropriation of funds by the general assembly, of an advanced opportunities program and scholarship, and a postsecondary credit scholarship, to provide public school students with funding to support implementation of individualized career and academic plans and to provide scholarships as incentives for students to graduate from secondary school at least one year early or who have earned certain amounts of postsecondary credits upon graduation. The scholarships may be used at public postsecondary educational institutions.

ISCA has offered lawmakers ways to make the bill better reflect the reality of counseling and advising students.

Approved by subcommittee



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