A Sweeping Attack on Home Rule: HSB 92 Rolls Back Wages, Civil Rights, Housing Fairness & Environmental Standards

This analysis was prepared by several volunteers in coordination with National Employment Law Project.

House Republicans are touting HSB 92 as a bill to pre-empt local minimum wage ordinances. The bill would indeed lower wages for thousands of Iowa workers by eliminating existing and scheduled minimum wage increases in four Iowa counties, but the bill also eliminates long-established local control of a host of other important issues. The bill directly violates the Iowa motto of “Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain,” by eliminating city and county home rule rights that the Iowa Constitution guarantees.  The bill, if passed, would immediately invalidate existing ordinances throughout the state, and make it illegal for counties and cities to exert their constitutionally guaranteed home rule authority over many subjects that are important to local voters and governments.

HSB 92:

  • Invalidates the minimum wage ordinances passed by Johnson, Linn, Polk and Wapello counties, lowering the minimum wage in each of those counties by as much as $2.85 per hour.
  • Invalidates all city and county civil rights ordinances that have any provisions different from the state civil rights act.
  • Makes it illegal for cities and counties in Iowa to pass any ordinance, motion, resolution or amendment on certain subjects. Since cities and counties set policies through motions, resolutions, ordinances or amendments, the bill would make it illegal for cities and counties to:

○ Set local non-discrimination standards for

◘ Housing

◘ Education

◘ Employment

◘ Wage discrimination

◘ Public accommodations and services, and

◘ Credit practices.

For example, this means a city cannot even set its own admission standards for a recreation center owned by the city and staffed by the city’s own employees.

○ Restrict the use of any type of container for consumer purchases.  This is to prevent Iowa cities and counties from banning the use of plastic bags or Styrofoam take out containers as many cities and counties around the country have done.

For example, this means the city could not even set a policy that a concession stand at a city rec center, staffed by city employees, would not use Styrofoam containers.

○ Set local standards that exceed or conflict with state or federal standards for

◘ Minimum or living wages

◘ Any form of employment leave

◘ Hiring practices

◘ Employment Benefits

◘ Scheduling practices

◘ Other terms and conditions of employment.

àThe bill is written so broadly that it appears it would be illegal for a city or county to set any terms or conditions of employment for its own employees. The bill applies to any city or county policies, with no exceptions.  The bill forbids a city or county from paying its own employees more than the minimum wage, or setting any terms for its own employees for sick leave, vacation, health insurance or other benefits, or any other terms or conditions of employment. 


This bill takes away substantial rights for cities and counties.  Iowa residents fought for many years to win home rule, and passed home rule amendments to the Iowa Constitution.  Non-discrimination policies in rentals, real estate sales, bus riding and scheduling, access to public parks, pools, and buildings, access to public schools for both curricular and extra-curricular activities, and many others have long been important local policies set by cities, counties and school boards.  This bill would make it illegal for cities and counties to set any policies in these important civil rights areas.


The Iowa legislative majority does not even acknowledge this unprecedented state government power grab, at the expense of local control, and provides no policy reason for invading these long established areas of local control.  The state should not take away the power of cities and counties to protect the civil rights of their residents and to act to improve the health, safety and lives of local residents. Local residents, through their democratically elected officials, are in the best position to determine local standards tailored to their local community.  The legislature should allow local governments to continue to set those standards as they have for the last 50 years, and not dictate “one size fits all” policies from Des Moines.

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