April 20, 2018

    State Budget Remains Uncertain
    Additional Protections for Consumer Data Breaches Becomes Law
    Protecting Iowa’s Veterans from Fraud
    Free Fishing Weekend in June
    Governor Privately Signs Anti-Immigration “Sanctuary Cities” into Law
    Prevention of School Lunch Food Shaming Becomes Law

    State Budget Remains Uncertain

    The scheduled date of adjournment has come and gone for the Iowa Legislature, but there is still a lot of work that remains on the state’s budget. The Iowa House took the first step in getting the budget completed by passing five budgets out of the House Appropriations Committee this week.

    While the sign of moving budgets out of committee is a positive first step, uncertainty remains as Republican leaders in the Capitol have not agreed to a budget or tax plan this year. Whatever ultimately happens in closed door negotiations among the leaders, it is clear that working Iowans will be left out of the process.

    While five of the ten budgets have been started in the House, Senate leaders just released their budget outline this week and have yet to start work on any budget bills.

    As the session winds down, House Democrats will work to keep the state budget balanced, restore fiscal discipline, and support a budget that puts the needs of everyday Iowans first.

    Additional Protections for Consumer Data Breaches Becomes Law

    A bill that provides more protections for consumers that have their credit stolen became law recently. Senate File 2177 expanded options for consumers to get a security freeze, which is a notice placed in the consumer’s credit report that prohibits releasing the consumer credit report or score for the opening of new credit.

    The new law comes after hundreds of thousands of Iowans had their private financial information compromised in security breaches at Equifax, Home Depot, Target, and more. The bill prohibits fees for placing, removing, suspending, or reinstating any security freeze. The bill also requires any consumer reporting agency that receives a request for a security freeze to do their best to inform the consumer of the contact information and method to receive a similar freeze from any other consumer reporting agency. There are also procedures to expedite the receipt and processing of security freezes.

    The bill was supported by the Attorney General’s Department of Justice, AARP Iowa, League of Women Voters of Iowa, Iowa Organization of Victim Assistance, and the Iowa Credit Union League.

    Protecting Iowa’s Veterans from Fraud

    A bill was signed into law this week that would help protect Iowa’s veterans from fraud. The bill, Senate File 2200, takes steps to safeguard veterans from organizations wanting to charge individuals for benefit assistance, when veterans are entitled to these services free of charge at a county veteran’s office.

    This bill requires that these organizations provide veterans with a disclosure at the beginning of events related to veteran’s benefits indicating that the event is not sponsored by a governmental agency or by any officially recognized organization. The disclosure must include that those in attendance may qualify for benefits other than, or in addition to, the benefits discussed at the event.

    To view more information relating to veteran benefits, please visit: https://va.iowa.gov.

    Free Fishing Weekend in June

    With the weather getting nicer people are excited to get outdoors to fish. People fishing over the age of 16 must have a valid Iowa fishing license. Fishing licenses for Iowa residents range from $9.50 for a one day license to $53 for a three year license. Seniors over the age of 65 can purchase a lifetime license for $52.50. Tags for trout and paddlefish are extra. Fishing licenses for nonresidents are slightly higher. Licenses can be purchased at https://jc.activeoutdoorsolutions.com/ia_customer/app/home.doc and many retail stores.

    Free fishing weekend June 2nd, 3rd, and 4th is free fishing weekend in Iowa. Iowa residents can fish without a license all weekend. While no license is required, a trout tag is needed if fishing for trout. Many waterways across the state have events during free fishing weekend. For more information on free fishing weekend events and fishing tips visit http://www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing.

    Governor Privately Signs Anti-Immigration “Sanctuary Cities” into Law

    Last week, Governor Reynolds privately signed a controversial anti-immigration bill into law which takes effect July 1, 2018. While the bill is designed to ban so-called “sanctuary cities” in Iowa, there are no such cities in the state.

    The new law will ban and penalize any form of a so-called “Sanctuary City”. The law cracks-down on cities and counties who do not comply with federal immigration authorities seeking to deport immigrants who entered the country illegally or risk losing state funding. However, law enforcement officials say they are already complying with federal law and no law enforcement organizations were in favor of the bill.

    Additionally, the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency said the law could jeopardize state funding to Iowa’s public schools and places educators and schools in the middle of immigration enforcement activities that are best handled by law enforcement. As a result, communities would experience a heavy increase in property taxes to supplement the penalty until a court determines compliance of the law.

    Senate File 481 will ban local entities from crafting policies that prevent law enforcement officers and other local officials from inquiring about the immigration status of a person. State funding will be restored to local governments after a 90 day lapse if it rescinds any “sanctuary” policies.

    Republican lawmakers and the Governor wrote the bill and passed it without input or feedback from Iowa communities. The law does not take into account the chilling effect on immigrant communities nor the damage to trusting relationships built with local law enforcement to create a safer environment. Rather, they unilaterally implanted a law that forces local compliance while jeopardizing Iowan’s constitutional rights.

    In the past, Iowa courts ruled that ICE detainer requests, without judicial consent, are not considered authorization for local jails to extend inmates’ detention. This makes jails potentially vulnerable to Fourth Amendment right violations, even if community officials are acting on the Federal Government’s behalf. As a result, until an official judicial ruling is made regarding SF 481, there is no guarantee Iowa law enforcement is free of any unconstitutional liability.

    Many Iowa communities have already begun to change their local jail policy to comply with the new state law based on the unwritten promise that this law would keep their law enforcement immune from unconstitutional acts and out fear of potentially losing state funding.

    Prevention of School Lunch Food Shaming Becomes Law

    The Governor has signed into law a bill preventing practices that shamed students in school, if they could not pay their lunch debt. Iowa has become the ninth state to pass a law protecting children under these circumstances, and lawmakers in Louisiana and Maine are currently considering bills similar to Iowa’s legislation.

    Under the bill, the following actions are no longer being allowed as these actions humiliate or “shame” a student because they cannot pay for the meal:

    • Requiring the student to consume the meal at a table set aside for students who owe a meal debt.
    • Have a student discard a meal after it has been served.
    • Require a student to wear a wrist band, hand stamp, or other identifying marks, or do chores or work to pay for their meal.
    • Denying participation in afterschool programs or other extracurricular activities.

    Once a year schools are currently required to offer assistance to parents or guardians in filling out Free and Reduced-Priced Lunch forms. Due to changing economic circumstances, this would now be required twice a year.

    Some schools have set up private accounts and accept donations to help pay for school lunch debt. The bill prevents the school from using those funds for another purpose, which has also happened in Iowa.