New Iowa laws include safe haven expansion, ‘move over’ rule
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed more than 170 bills during and after the legislative session and most of those laws took effect in July, the start of Iowa’s new budget year.
Here’s a look at some of the more visible changes to Iowa’s laws:
A new immigration measure requires local law enforcement officers to follow requests from federal agents to hold a jailed person suspected of being in the country illegally. The law, often described as a ban on so-called “sanctuary cities,” threatens local jurisdictions with the loss of state funding if they fail to comply.
Iowa’s new abortion regulations, which seek to ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, also would have gone into effect, but they’re on hold pending a legal challenge.
MORE SAFE HAVEN OPTIONS
Iowa’s safe haven law, which allows newborn infants to be voluntarily surrendered for foster care placement, now applies to a child as old as 30 days. Previously, the law allowed parents to avoid prosecution for giving up infants as old as two weeks.
Additionally, a parent can now call 911 to relinquish custody of their newborn infant to a first responder instead of taking the child to a hospital or health facility.
EXPANDING ‘MOVE OVER’ RULE
Drivers approaching a stopped emergency vehicle on the side of the road are expected to move over or slow down. A new law expands that requirement to all stationary vehicles with flashing lights, including construction workers and disabled motorists. Drivers should move over if it’s safe or should reduce their speed under the speed limit and be prepared to stop.
STUN GUN PERMIT DROPPED
A stun gun may be carried by adults without a permit provided it doesn’t include a projectile and isn’t used in a crime. Previously, Iowans could legally carry a stun gun only with a permit. They are still considered dangerous weapons.
REDUCING ALCOHOL LIABILITY
Bars, restaurants and other establishments that serve or sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who drunkenly drives and injures or kills someone now have a limit on how much they might owe a victim.
A new law limits non-economic damages to $250,000 for any injury or death, unless a jury finds a victim otherwise wouldn’t be compensated for loss or impairment of a bodily function, disfigurement or death. There’s still no cap for economic damages, which include medical bills and lost income.
The state will conduct a review of its liability insurance requirements every two years for commercial establishments selling alcohol.
IGNITION INTERLOCKS REQUIRED
A reform of Iowa’s operating while intoxicated law will require that ignition interlock devices be used by anyone driving on a temporary restricted license.
Previously, someone who qualified for the temporary licenses— which allow a driver to commute from home to work or school — weren’t required to install the ignition interlock, which checks the breath of drivers to detect alcohol. The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency says 580 drunken driving revocations last fiscal year didn’t require interlock devices. Now interlocks will be used in all cases for drivers with temporary restricted licenses.
OTHER NEW LAWS IN PROGRESS
Reynolds’ office also highlighted legislation that will take time to be fully implemented. Those include:
• A $31 million overhaul of Iowa’s adult mental health services, funded largely by cash reserves for Iowa’s 14 mental health regions.
• New so-called “health benefit plans” and “association health plans,” which don’t meet the minimum requirements set forth by the Affordable Care Act.
• A requirement that Iowa school districts train educators on how to identify and help students at risk of suicide.
• The Future Ready Iowa initiative, the Reynolds administration’s marquee workforce development program.