Public safety was big priority this session
Week 14 of the session is done. The first year of a General Assembly is officially scheduled for 110 calendar days counting all seven days of the week. Therefore our 110 days comes out to 15 weeks and five days which falls on May 3. Of course the legislature can continue past that date, but our per diem expenses end, and our legislative clerks are released. We are quickly coming to the end of session, and working hard to complete our work.
Many of the pieces of legislation passed in the House this session revolve around the theme of keeping Iowans safe. Public safety is one of the top items identified by Iowans for the legislature to focus on and we have taken that message seriously in our work on both policy and the budget.
Improving school safety — House File 637 helps protect our children from predators who try to move from school to school to avoid detection by requiring school administrators to report misconduct in a timely manner. House File 546 extends the 1 percent school infrastructure sales tax known as SAVE. House Republicans included provisions in the bill that prioritizes upgrades like secure entrances, security cameras and other safety enhancements.
Empowering students on college campuses — The number of assaults and rapes on our college campuses in Iowa has increased in recent years. Senate File 188 provides students with more tools to protect themselves on campus by preventing our Regent schools and community colleges from banning the carrying of stun guns for personal protection. When seconds count, and law enforcement is minutes away, the use of a personal protection device such as a stun gun could be the difference between life and death. These types of weapons are legal for 18 year olds to carry in other public places. Adding this option for self-defense on our campuses simply makes sense.
Safe roads — Senate File 113 holds repeat drunk drivers accountable by allowing stiffer penalties as habitual offenders for offenders with three or more OWIs.
Protecting seniors and vulnerable Iowans — House file 323 ensures that a person can be found guilty of dependent adult abuse even if they didn’t personally profit from the abuse. House File 731 updates our mandatory reporter law by requiring more frequent and more streamlined training. House File 569 ensures that an individual that intentionally shames, degrades, humiliates or harms the personal dignity of a dependent adult is held accountable. These bills help to ensure that seniors and vulnerable Iowans are protected and not taken advantage of.
On another topic, the House passed House File 767 — electric vehicle registration fees. As the proliferation of electric vehicles increases it is important that we ensure that these users pay for their share of the roads they use. Currently the registration fee for an electric vehicle is very low compared to other vehicles of the same size. This bill seeks to increase the registration fee for an all-electric vehicle to $130 per year, and for a plug in hybrid electric vehicle to $65 per year. Additionally there will be excise taxes added for plug in electric vehicles of 2.6 cents per kilowatt/hour. This charge only applies when using a publicly available charging station, similar to using a gas pump. The excise tax will not be applied when charging at home. There will also be an excise tax on hydrogen fuel vehicles equating to 65 cents per gallon. All of these funds will be directed to the Road Use Tax Fund in the same manner as the existing gasoline tax, diesel tax and registration fees are applied. The estimated impact on the Road Use Tax Fund for Fiscal Year 20 will be an increase of $185,000, but as these types of vehicles increase in use that amount will obviously grow.
As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 641-750-3594.