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Capitol highlights

March 20, 2015
By Rep. Tedd Gassman - Representing Iowa House District 7 , Estherville News

Last Thursday, the House spent several hours debating HF 573 which requires an abortion provider to certify that prior to the performance of an abortion, the pregnant woman has been given the opportunity to view the ultrasound image and hear the heartbeat of the unborn baby. The purpose of this bill is to help pregnant women make an informed decision regarding her pregnancy by giving her the opportunity to see an ultrasound and hear the baby's heartbeat. Our hope is that women who see an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat will recognize the life of the unborn child and choose a route other than abortion. HF 573 passed the House by a vote of 57-39, and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

Late last week HF 397 (previously HF 88) which defines "occasional work" in child labor laws came up for debate on the Floor. I was assigned this bill in the Labor committee, and ran the bill on the Floor. After discussion and questions, the bill passed the House by a vote of 55-41. The bill is now eligible to be considered in the Senate.

Another important bill that passed the House this week was HF 567 which updates the list of controlled substances to include synthetic drugs. This bill also allows the Board of Pharmacy to designate a new substance as a controlled substance by administrative rule if the substance is designated as a controlled substance under federal law. If a substance is designated as controlled, it will be repealed if the General Assembly does not enact the temporary amendment within two years. This bill's purpose is to control synthetic drugs that are deadly to those who partake of them.

HF 515 is an important bill for our state. It adds an additional eligible expense to arbitration costs by allowing the cost of school mediation and arbitration, including legal costs, to be paid for out of the Management Levy. The Management Levy is an optional property tax levy that can be used to pay for unemployment benefits, liability insurance, insurance, judgments, and early retirements. In the past, legal costs incurred during the process of negotiation had to come from the general fund. The current statewide amount of the Management Levy for FY15 is $147 million. This bill will allow schools to use money from the Management Levy for arbitrary costs so that more of the general fund can be used for education. HF 515 passed the House on Tuesday, and is now eligible to be considered in the Senate.

Also on Tuesday, the House debated and passed HF 414 which improves veteran benefits services by requiring certain disclosures which tell veterans that benefit services are offered at no cost by federally chartered veteran service organizations and county commission offices. The bill also states that a person who does not provide a veteran with the proper disclosure and obtain the veteran's signature is subject to a civil penalty. The purpose of this bill is to make veterans aware of the free services offered by the federal government, so they can take advantage of those services rather than purchasing those services from private individuals.

This week we also passed HF 570 which changes municipal tort liability laws. Current Iowa law lists specific activities like canoeing, skateboarding and "scootering", for which there is a "normal risk" of injury and the law provides cities limited liability protection if negligence was not involved in accidents that happen on city-owned property. Sledding is not on the list. The bill would take out all the references to specific activities and insert the phrase "recreational activities" in the part of state law that offers some liability protection to cities that allow sledding and other recreational exploits on city-owned property. The purpose of this bill is to place the responsibility for expected injuries on the individual, while still holding cities responsible for gross negligence.



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