[Editor's note: This is an updated version of the previous article. An earlier version of this included the DNA sample law that does not go into effect until 2014.]
Here are some of the measures passed by the split-control Iowa General Assembly during the 2013 legislative session and signed by Gov. Terry Branstad that will take effect today:
- THE LAW: Communities will be able to establish reinvestment districts to capture shares of state sales tax and local hotel/motel fees to help fund big-ticket projects.
- WHAT IT DOES: The split-control Legislature achieved bipartisan support for cities and counties to designate special 25-acre development zones and use a share of sales tax and hotel-motel tax revenues to assist private projects of at least $10 million as a way to spur “big ideas.”
- THE LAW: All school employees must undergo a background check of the sex offender registry, child abuse registry, and the dependent adult abuse registry before being hired. (SF452)
- WHAT IT DOES: For current employees, the law change requires a school district to establish a policy which would require these employees to undergo the record check at least every five years after their date of hire. If a current employee is found to be on one of the registries, that would be grounds for suspension pending a termination hearing by the school board.
- THE LAW: Land owners will have expanded liability protections for farm tours. (HF649)
- WHAT IT DOES: The change is designed to abrogate an Iowa Supreme Court decision holding that farmers who offer educational tours are not shielded from personal injury lawsuits under Iowa’s recreational use law. The court ruled 5-2 last February that the owners of a dairy farm could be sued by a chaperon injured when she fell through a hole in a hayloft during a kindergarten class field trip.
Other laws of note
- Iowans possessing cellphones will pay an extra 35 cents a month for E-911 service, putting them on even keel with the $1 monthly fee for land-based telephone lines. (HF644)
- Most Iowa drivers will be able to renew their Iowa licenses online as well as only do it every eight years rather than five. (HF355)
- Employees operating ice cream trucks or other mobile businesses catering to kids and school employees will be subject to background checks. (SF452)
- A new sex offender exclusion zone is created making it illegal for a sex offender to operate, manage, be employed by or act as a contractor or volunteer at a business that operates an ice cream truck. (SF452)
- Prevention and control measures are implemented for aquatic invasive species, and disbursement of plants or seeds of garlic mustard, oriental bittersweet, Japanese knotweed and Japanese hop is prohibited. (HF522/SF317)
- Livestock producers will be allowed to “mothball” facilities rather than tear them down if they downsize or suspend operations and the change is approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
- Teenagers being educated at home will be able to get driving instruction from their parents (HF215)
- Students attending a state university in Iowa will not see an increase in their in-state resident tuition for the next school year
- Owners of electric cars will pay registration fees based on the vehicle’s gross weight rather than a $25 flat fee (SF452)
- Communities will be able to establish reinvestment districts to capture shares of state sales tax and local hotel/motel fees to help fund big-ticket attractions or projects (HF641)
- Students attending private colleges and universities in Iowa will be eligible to receive up to $5,000 annually in Iowa tuition grants (SF452)
- A child enrolled in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program, which serves 4 year old children, shall be considered of compulsory attendance age and subject to compulsory education laws (this does not lower the compulsory attendance age) (HF351)
- The parent of a child to be enrolled in a public or accredited nonpublic elementary school has to ensure that the child is screened for vision impairment at least once before enrollment in kindergarten and again before third grade (SF419)
- The definition of a “sex act” in Iowa law adds ejaculation onto another person – a change stemming from an assault that could not be charged as a sexual assault because the code did not adequately define the act (SF298)
- The definition of lascivious acts with a child in Iowa law is expanded to include touching of a person’s genitals to any part of a child’s body (SF298)
- The Iowa Board of Parole will have a pool of three alternate members who can substitute for members who are disqualified or unavailable for hearings (HF538)
- Peace officers in a county are allowed to serve a person subject to a protection order or no-contact order with a short form notification during traffic stops and other contact (HF496)
- The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is removed from the Department of Public Defense and becomes a stand-alone state department (HF307)
- Charitable groups will be allowed to auction alcoholic “spirits” at charity events by adding them to the permit currently used for beer and wine (SF380)