In the Legislature
This week had a lot of floor debate due to the second funnel concluding last week. We have been working on bills coming over from the House and discussing the budget for the next fiscal year. Here's our week:
On Monday, we passed HF 52, HF 133, HF 183, HF 202, HF 307, HF 467, HF 475, HF 529, HF 547, and HF 572.
State Senator Jeff Edler
On Tuesday, we debated and passed HF 463, HF 218, HF 306, HF 309, HF 441, HF 471, HF 485, HF 517, HF 533, HF 542, and HF 591.
HF 485 allows city council members to serve a city's volunteer fire department in any position or capacity. It clarifies in code that city council members can serve as volunteer firefighters at any level. This bill will help rural areas where they need volunteer firefighters and city council members are willing to serve.
HF 463 expands the authority of motor vehicle enforcement officers (MVE), which passed 41-9. This bill explicitly expands their authority to "enforce all laws of the state." The bill states MVE officers' primary duties shall be to enforce federal motor carrier safety regulations, operating authority of semis and busses, regulation of commercial vehicles, enforcement of traffic and safety laws on operators of commercial vehicles, enforcement of other activities for the motor carrier safety assistance program and high priority program (MCSAP), investigation and enforcement of matters entrusted to the DOT, and enforcement of motor vehicle laws.
We passed SF 32, HF 146, HF 314, HF 410, HF 472, HF 541, HF 568, HF 601, and HCR 6 on Wednesday.
HF 410 puts Palmer amaranth on the noxious weed list. Palmer amaranth is an invasive species that lowers crop yields. It has been discovered in at least 48 counties. This classification prohibits the import, sale, or distribution of the plant or its seeds in the state. This bill is intended to protect farmers and ensure they are not forced into violation of their CRP contracts by county boards of supervisors or weed commissioners.
On Thursday, we passed SR 15, HF 241, HF 254, HF 308, HF 440, HF 469, HF 511, HF 566, HF 576, and HF 584.
Restoring your constitutional rights
The gun omnibus bill, House File 517, was debated in the Senate this week. This piece of legislation has been worked on for a long time by legislators, constituents, and interested parties. Many long hours have been spent going over the language and provisions. For years, we have been waiting to have debates regarding the Second Amendment on the Senate floor, but were rarely given the opportunity. This year, we were finally able to make these big, bold reforms we envisioned and take the first step in ensuring every Iowan's Second Amendment right.
The bill makes several changes to a variety of firearms laws in Iowa. A few of these include striking the state prohibition on short-barreled rifles and shotguns, allowing private investigators and security officers who are licensed and have a permit to carry to do so on school property while engaged in performance of their duties (like peace officers, who are already allowed to do this), and allowing pistols and revolvers to be carried in the Capitol building and surrounding grounds and parking lots by Iowans with a concealed carry permit. The pistol or revolver must be concealed and the carrier must comply with all other state laws.
It also makes it a serious misdemeanor to carry a dangerous weapon while under the influence, states a permit to acquire weapons will be valid for five years, strikes the minimum age for a person to possess a handgun while under the supervision of a parent or guardian, and requires the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the issuing officer to keep personally identifiable information of nonprofessional permit holders private. The release of this information requires a court order or consent of the permit holder. The bill also allows a person riding a snowmobile or ATV to carry a pistol or revolver without a retention holster and it protects property owners in unincorporated areas from noise complaints if they are lawfully shooting firearms on their property.
Additionally, the bill also puts into Iowa Code a 'Stand Your Ground' provision. This policy says a person may use reasonable force, including deadly force, if they have a reasonable belief the force is necessary to avoid injury or death to themselves or others. There is no duty to retreat. This provision also includes immunity from criminal and civil liability.
Reasonable force is defined as a force that is no more than a reasonable person in a like circumstance would judge to be necessary to prevent an injury or loss and can include deadly force if reasonable to avoid injury or risk to one's life or the life or safety of another (which is current law). Reasonable force, including deadly force, may be used even if an alternative course of action is available, if the action entails a risk to life or safety, or that of a third party.
This bill passed with bipartisan support in the Senate with a 33-17 vote. Passing this legislation on the floor of the Senate was a big step forward for our state. If you have questions about the bill, please feel free to contact me.
State Budget Begins to Take Shape
This week Senate Republicans released our budget targets for the upcoming state fiscal year. These targets are the first step in determining how the expected tax dollars Iowans send to their state government are spent. The targets are an outline of the budget and they give the different budget areas the amount of money available to spend for the next fiscal year.