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2nd Amendment Rights:  Some cities recently attempted to regulate firearms accessories. This bill clarifies that the state, not counties or cities, regulate firearms. This is to ensure that no matter where you are in Iowa there is no confusion on the law. We don’t want law abiding Iowans being charged for crimes simply for crossing a county line or city limits.

Also, it says that cities or counties must provide security if they choose to ban firearms on their property.  This ensures that if they want to establish a gun-free zone, they make sure unarmed people are protected. The judicial branch continues to operate under its own policy on firearms.

Some communities had been imposing heavy burdens on current shooting ranges and preventing the opening of others without good cause. This bill additionally provides that shooting ranges can continue to open and operate free from unreasonable standards.

Protect Life Amendment:  This is a constitutional amendment that restores the right of the people through their elected representatives, not unelected judges, to make law regarding protections for unborn life. This is to correct a judicial overreach in 2018 where the courts “found” a right to abortion in the Iowa Constitution, something obviously not there. This has passed the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee, and so is awaiting action on the House floor.

Driving Hands Free:  Designed to address distracted driving caused by cell phones and other technology in the vehicle. This requires the use of hands-free or voice-activated technology while driving a vehicle. The penalty for failure to comply is a moving traffic violation and a $100 fine. Last year there were approximately 1,700 tickets issued for distracted driving.

Medical Cannabis:  Expands the program to allow PA’s, ARNP’s and podiatrists to recommend medical cannabidiol oil, besides just MD’s and OD’s. Still in discussion the amount of THC (psychoactive ingredient that causes the “high”) to allow. Likely will go with the recommendations of the Medical Cannabidiol Board.

Medical Professionals for Rural Iowa: Requires the University of Iowa medical and dental schools to have 75% of their admitted students be from the state of Iowa. This builds on last year’s law passed requiring medical residencies to prioritize Iowans. The reason: if a medical student or resident is from Iowa and completes their training in Iowa while in their 20’s and 30’s, they will more likely stay in Iowa.

Another bill requires primary care residencies, including OB, psychiatry, and emergency department, to provide an opportunity to participate in a rural rotation to expose those physicians to Iowa’s rural areas.

Confidentiality of Veterans Benefits:  Currently county recorders are allowed to provide the names and addresses of veterans who are receiving disabled veteran tax credits to whoever asks. This bill protects veterans who are currently receiving benefits and keeps that information confidential. This applies to both city and county assessors as well as the recorders and also to military property tax exemption information as well as the disabled veteran property tax credit information.

Felon Voting Rights:  Moving in the Senate – Requires felons to make full payment of restitution to their victims before they can regain their voting rights. It does not require payment of fines and court fees. Those convicted on murder-related charges, certain sex-related charges, and on the sex offender registry would not qualify under this legislation. They would have to go through the current process used of making application to the governor’s office and being evaluated.

Child Care “Cliff Effect”: Some employees cannot take raises or promotions at their workplace because they would lose their child care assistance benefits. This bill restructures those benefits to encourage employees to take advantage of those career opportunities and get off state assistance.

Microchip Bill:  Prohibits employers from requiring employees to have a microchip or other device implanted into the employee’s body.

Parental Opt-Out of LGBT Instruction:  Allows a parent to opt their student out of LGBT instruction just as is currently allowed for sex ed. LGBT issues touch on family, faith, sexuality, and sexual ethics just as sex ed does. Not all students, parents, or families agree with the viewpoint held by many schools regarding LGBT issues. This allows those parents to exercise their right to opt their student out.

EMS Tax Credit:  Increases the Volunteer Fire Fighter and Volunteer EMS Personnel, and Reserve Peace Officer Tax Credit from $100 to $200.

National Guard bill: Removes some barriers for the National Guard in exercising non-judicial punishment, especially for offenses related to the use of technology; Also allows the National Guard to target scholarship monies to recruit and retain in high demand STEM military occupations.

Hemp:  Prohibits smokable hemp, a plant related to marijuana.

Sandy Salmon

Author: Sandy Salmon