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Reynolds’ bill was tabled by House Republicans, and now the new AEA bill is up for discussion



Des Moines, Iowa – Considering that Governor Kim Reynolds implemented significant changes to Area Education Agencies (AEAs) earlier this year, AEAs have been on the minds of many Iowa Republicans this session.

Some members of Reynolds’ own party refused to be persuaded, even after she made significant modifications to the draft law in response to opposition from campaigners.

The Republicans in the House decided to take matters into their own hands and redrafted the AEA reform bill. On Thursday, the bill was discussed in a subcommittee.

The chronology is the primary distinction between the measure introduced by House Republicans and that of Reynolds. The 2025–2026 school year is the new deadline for revisions set by HSB 713, although Reynolds’ measure would take effect in 2024.

Furthermore, AEAs would continue to be overseen by the Iowa Department of Education under the current proposal; however, a taskforce will be formed to provide advice to the DOE.

While the taskforce’s execution is appreciated, advocates would prefer to have some control over the terminology and composition of the group.

“One, we really appreciate the task force. Two, the crisis intervention services: As I’m sure you’ve heard before, it was the AEAs that led that team up in Perry. And then three, we really want to hone in on operational sharing,” said Denise Rathman, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers.

Advocates applauded lawmakers for listening to their concerns and making necessary adjustments during the subcommittee hearing on Thursday, demonstrating their support for the new measure. Concerns remain, meanwhile, around provider sharing and the mandate that schools employ a single AEA for all services.

“We want to make sure that we, in whatever structure, or however this moves forward, that we are maximizing the professional workforce,” said Lisa Chushatt, executive director of Iowa Aces 360.

According to the House Republicans’ bill, AEAs will still have complete authority over all special education funding and services. Although they will have authority over media and educational services, school districts must only utilize the money for AEAs.

The head of the House Education Committee, Rep. Skylar Wheeler, claims that their legislation has significantly altered from Reynolds’ original plan.

“This is not the final product,” Wheeler said. “I’m open to changes on the taskforce. We can continue to have conversations on operational sharing.”

Notably, the Senate Education Committee approved Reynolds’ plan on Wednesday, but it was not approved by the House. For a piece of legislation to become law, it must pass both the Iowa House and Senate.

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