OLR Research Report

December 10, 2008




By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst

You asked for information on the minority impact statements prepared by Iowa's legislative staff pursuant to recently adopted legislation. You were particularly interested in learning what types of legislation are accompanied by these statements and who prepares them. At your request, we have attached a prototype of such statements.


Under Iowa Code Sec. 2.56, a correctional impact statement must be prepared for any bill, resolution, or amendment that (1) proposes a change in the law that creates a public offense, (2) significantly changes an existing public offense or the penalty for one, or (3) changes existing sentencing, parole, or probation procedures. The statement must be prepared before the floor debate on the legislation. It must include information concerning the estimated number of criminal cases per year that the legislation will affect; the fiscal impact of confining persons under the legislation; its impact on existing correctional institutions, community-based correctional facilities and services, and jails; the likelihood that the legislation will create a need for additional prison capacity; and other relevant matters. The statement must be factual and, if possible, provide a reasonable estimate of the legislation's immediate and long-range impact on prison capacity.

An act adopted this past session (HF 2393) requires that the statement also include the legislation's impact on minorities. Although the act does not define “minorities” for the impact statements the legislative staff must prepare, staff noted that they plan to use the same definition as in the grants provision of the act. The staff note that while the state has data on the race/ethnicity and gender of offenders, it does not regularly collect data on the proportion of offenders who have disabilities. Staff indicated that there is evidence that the proportion of offenders with disabilities, particularly mental illness, is substantially higher than the proportion of the population as a whole that have disabilities. For example a 2006 study by the state's Department of Corrections found that 33.8% of inmates in state prisons had mental illnesses.


The law requires the Iowa Legislative Services Agency (the analogue of Connecticut's Office of Legislative Management) to prepare the minority impact statement. The act requires the agency, in cooperation with the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning in the Department of Human Rights, to develop a protocol for analyzing the impact of legislation on minorities. The agency has also consulted with the state's Judicial Branch and Department of Corrections in developing the minority impact statement. The agency has determined that the statements will be prepared by the agency's Fiscal Services Department in practice.


The underlying law requires legislative committees to state in their reports whether a correctional impact statement is required when they send legislation to the floor. It requires the legislative services agency to review all bills and joint resolutions placed on the calendar of either chamber, as well as amendments filed to bills or joint resolution on the calendar, to determine whether a correctional impact statement is required. It allows legislators to request that a statement be prepared by submitting a request to the legislative services agency. The agency must prepare a statement within a reasonable time after a request is made or it determines that a proposal is subject to these provisions. All statements approved by the agency must be transmitted immediately to the chief clerk of the house or the secretary of the senate, after notifying the legislation's sponsor that the statement has been prepared. The chief clerk or secretary must attach the statement to the legislation as soon as it is available. The agency may request the cooperation of any state department, agency, or political subdivision in preparing a statement.

Under the law, the statement must be revised if the correctional impact is changed by the adoption of an amendment. A revised statement may be prepared at the request of a legislator or if the agency determines this is appropriate. But, a request for a revision cannot delay action on the legislation unless ordered by the chamber's presiding officer.