On April 14, the House passed Senate File 342 with a vote of 63-30, to support Iowa Law Enforcement in a comprehensive bill that will:
• Allow peace officers and their families to join the Safe at Home program, which will keep their names and home addresses private.
• Clarify that shining a laser in another person’s eyes is assault.
• Increase penalties for harassing peace officers, blocking roadways, disorderly conduct and damaging property.
• Protect state employees from civil lawsuits when they are acting within the law.
• Protect drivers from civil lawsuits if they are exercising due care and injure someone blocking the roadway.
• Make changes to disability benefits, ensuring better medical care and services to peace officers.
• Allow peace officers to use accrued sick leave to pay for health insurance after retirement.
Requires that local governments allow law enforcement to enforce the laws.
• Increase penalties for rioting.
• Clarify that payments for medical care and vacation cannot be counted against a disability pension.
This is a broad bill showing the major support Iowans and legislature have for law enforcement officers and employees.
Bills of note passed in the House this week:
Senate File 546: private instruction, drivers education
2011 saw the adoption of private instruction monitored by the Department of Transportation for home schooled children. This bill clarifies that private instruction, as defined by code, that any parent or guardian qualifies as competent private instruction. It also changes certain provisions of parental drivers’ education to best utilize time within a training course, maintains rigorous standards, makes parental supervised drive time equitable, and allows both parents to teach their child. This bill passed the house Monday with a vote of 59-33. It still needs to pass in the Iowa Senate.
House File 857: The Butchery Fund
This bill creates a butchery fund within the Iowa Economic Development authority. This will provide funding for new butchery businesses, meat lockers and for existing facilities wishing to expand or upgrade. A task force will be established to explore adding butchery programs to our community colleges and universities. It is hoped this will spur economic development in the butchery field, as Iowa needs more available lockers and butchers. This bill passed the House on Tuesday, 91-0.
House File 855: Adoptee birth certificates
This bill allows adoptees to obtain a copy of their birth certificate and it allows biological parents to decide how much information should be provided to the adoptee. I ran this bill a couple of years ago, but did not have enough support. After the change in the makeup of the House, it passed with a vote of 91-0.
Economic development budget
This week the appropriations committee passed the Economic Development Budget. This budget is subject to change during further negotiation with the Senate, but it now contains the following:
• A total of $78,000,000 for Iowa’s economic development.
• $3,000,000 for the Iowa Childcare Challenge Fund.
• $1.2 million for regional tourism and marketing.
• $750,000 for local meat processing businesses.
• $1.8 million for the jobs training program.
The House also spent much of the last week debating bills as well as preparing and negotiating the House yearly budget. It is a long process that, once finalized in the House, will also be negotiated with the Senate.