William Petroski, email@example.com 5:58 a.m. CDT July 1, 2014
Dozens of new state laws will take effect Tuesday affecting many Iowans, including holders of gift certificates, farmers who raise corn, people who puff electronic cigarettes, and operators of drone aircraft.
The new laws include tougher rules on romances between teachers and former students, and laws to help keep children forced into prostitution out of the criminal justice system and allow pets to be included in domestic protective orders.
But one new measure that has generated many headlines and extensive public debate — permitting an oil derived from marijuana to be used to treat some medical patients — is expected to affect a relatively small number of Iowans.
Those whom Iowa neurologists diagnose with intractable epilepsy may seek permission to be treated with cannabidiol — a non-psychoactive medicine derived from marijuana. Under the law, they can apply to the Department of Public Health for a card allowing them to possess up to 32 ounces of cannabidiol.
A patient or a guardian issued the card will not be prosecuted by the state for cannabidiol possession. People who do not have the card are still prohibited from having or using the substance. The cards must be renewed every year.
Under the law, the University of Iowa will be required to submit annual reports detailing scientific literature, studies and clinical trials regarding cannabidiol use around the country. The law will be repealed July 1, 2017, unless the Legislature acts to extend it.
State Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said Friday that an interim legislative committee will oversee the implementation of the law, and he hopes lawmakers will have a discussion about allowing the use of cannabis to treat other medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis. "But this is an important first step going forward," he said.
Maria La France of Des Moines, whose son, Quinn, has severe epilepsy, said she isn't worried about the cannabidiol law expiring in 2017. "My hope is that the law will be expanded; maybe this law will go away and be replaced by a full medical cannabis program, one that allows it to be grown in this state and sold in this state," she added.
However, Gov. Terry Branstad, who signed the cannabidiol legislation, is not proposing any more changes for now regarding medical marijuana. "Governor Branstad believes the state needs to be cautious about expanding a law that has not even taken effect yet," said Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers.
State Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, who is challenging Branstad for governor, said, "I support the expansion of medical cannabis oil by prescription only for conditions for which it has been demonstrated to have significant pain-relief value."
The new laws are the result of actions by the Iowa Legislature during this year's session. Most state laws take effect July 1 each year, unless there is a specific provision designating another date.
Here is a look at some of the other laws taking effect Tuesday:
CORN CHECKOFF: The state's corn promotion checkoff can be increased from 1 cent per bushel to a maximum of 3 cents per bushel. The legislation will require approval in a referendum by corn producers before the checkoff is increased. The maximum rate for the next five years, from Sept. 1, 2014, through Aug. 31, 2019, cannot exceed 2 cents per bushel. The maximum rate for all future years, beginning Sept. 1, 2019, cannot exceed 3 cents per bushel.
E-CIGARETTES: The new law will enable the state to regulate "electronic cigarettes" as it currently regulates tobacco products. Iowa retailers are banned from selling alternative nicotine products and vapor products to individuals under age 18. The law also prohibits e-cigarette sales through vending machines and bans sampling within 500 feet of a school.
DRONES: The state and its political subdivisions will be prohibited from using unmanned aerial vehicles for enforcing traffic laws. Information obtained by unmanned aerial vehicles cannot be used as evidence unless the information is collected through the use of a search warrant or in compliance with state or federal laws. The new law also requires the Department of Public Safety to work with other agencies and interested parties to determine if changes should be made to Iowa's criminal code to address unmanned aerial vehicle use.
GIFT CERTIFICATES: This eliminates the presumption that certain unused gift certificates are abandoned property, allowing the consumer to use them indefinitely. In doing so, it also eliminates the requirement that businesses issuing the gift certificates keep track of the unspent balance and forfeit the proceeds to the state treasurer.
TEACHER/EX-STUDENT ROMANCE: Teachers who engage in relationships with former students can face revocation of their teaching licenses. A teacher who pursues or engages in a romantic relationship with a person who was a student within the previous 90 days is considered guilty of unprofessional and unethical conduct and can be disciplined by the Board of Educational Examiners.
PETS IN DOMESTIC ORDERS: Household pets may be included in protective orders that victims of domestic abuse file against their abusers.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING: This allows people under 18 who have been forced into prostitution to be assisted by the Department of Human Services as a child in need of assistance, instead of facing prosecution. This also adds a new code section for sexual exploitation of a minor and extends the statute of limitations for sexual exploitation of a minor from three years to 10 years after the victim turns 18.
MILITARY VETERANS: Lawmakers approved a package of bills that were a cornerstone of Gov. Terry Branstad's Home Base Iowa plan to attract military veterans from other states. The legislation exempts military pensions from state income tax, and surviving spouses are included in the exemption. It also allows companies to give preference to veterans in hiring decisions and eases occupational licensing for veterans who learned relevant skills in the service. Higher education facilities will also be charged with determining a standard to offer veterans academic credit for military experiences.
UNDERAGE DRINKING: Prohibits the owner or lessee of a property from permitting an underage person from consuming or possessing alcohol. The bill implements penalties for those under age 18, not 21. The bill has exceptions for religious purposes.
SCHOOL HOURS: Changes the instructional time requirement for school districts to allow the count in either days or hours. Current law requires 5.5 hours minimum instruction time and 180 days beginning on or around September 1. The new law allows the year to be counted as 1,080 hours instead, equal to 6 hours of instructional time per day. Any change proposed by the school board must receive a public hearing prior to approval.
MILLER TRUSTS: This bill raises the Miller Trust upper limit to 125 percent of the average statewide cost of nursing care. This will allow more people to utilize the Miller Trust option to pay for their care without having to take extraordinary measures such as divorce to lower their income. A Miller Trust is a trust used to obtain Medicaid eligibility for a person who would not be eligible if their income was considered in the eligibility determination. A Miller Trust is used only in limited instances where a person's income is greater than the Medicaid eligibility amount, but less than the statewide cost of nursing care. If a person has too much income to qualify for Medicaid, but has less income than necessary to pay for their long term care, then a Miller Trust can be set up for them.
OFF-ROAD UTILITY VEHICLES: This revises the definition of "off-road utility vehicle" in the Iowa Code. The legislation was brought because some off-road utility vehicles in the market today do not fit within the current Iowa Code definition. This creates three off road utility vehicle definitions based on width and weight of the vehicle. "Off-road utility vehicle" means a motorized vehicle with not less than four and not more than eight non-highway tires or tracks that have a seat that is not intended to be straddled by the operator, and a steering wheel.
ELDER ABUSE: Provides additional protection for persons 60 and over who cannot protect themselves from elder abuse. The new law allows for vulnerable elders to request protective orders in cases of elder abuse.
YOUTH WILD TURKEY HUNTING LICENSES: This allows a person who is issued a youth spring wild turkey hunting license and does not take a wild turkey during the youth spring wild turkey hunting season to use the license and tag during any other wild turkey season.
INSURANCE AGENT DUTIES: The new law overturns Iowa Supreme Court precedents that expanded the scope of potential legal liability for insurance agents and restores the duty of care owed by insurance agents to only those beneficiaries that have a contractual relationship with the agent.
PADDLEFISH FISHING LICENSES: This authorizes the Natural Resource Commission to issue paddlefish fishing licenses for use on the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers. Residents fishing for paddlefish on either river are required to have a fishing license in addition to an annual paddlefish fishing license that costs $20.
NATIONAL GUARD SEXUAL ASSAULTS: The Iowa National Guard will be required to file an annual report with the governor and the Iowa Legislature regarding incidents of sexual assault within its 9,200-member ranks. The legislation also prohibits a Guard commander from interfering with a victim's right to report an incident of sexual assault to civilian law enforcement officials.
GREYHOUNDS: Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, which operates Bluffs Run Greyhound Park, will be permitted to shut down its greyhound track on Jan. 1, 2016, while Mystique Casino, which operates Dubuque Greyhound Park, will get out of dog racing on Nov. 1. But the Iowa Greyhound Association will be authorized to keep the Dubuque track open for greyhound races. The law requires the two casinos to provide a total of $92 million in compensation to the greyhound industry, including money to no-kill adoption agencies to place dogs for adoption that no longer have a place to race.
REGULATION OF PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS: This regulates pharmacy benefit managers by authorizing the state insurance commissioner to require disclosure of pharmacy benefit manager's pricing methodology for pharmaceuticals to pharmacies. It also regulates contracts between pharmacy benefits managers and pharmacies regarding drug prices.
ARCHITECT AND ENGINEER IMMUNITY: Architects and engineers will be designated as "employees of the state" and protected from lawsuits if they voluntarily and without compensation provide help at disaster scenes to determine if houses and other buildings can be occupied by people.
VOLUNTEER EMERGENCY WORKER TAX CREDIT: This increases the tax credit for volunteer fire fighters and volunteer emergency medical services personnel from $50 to $100. It also adds reserve peace officers to the list of eligible recipients. This credit is currently non-refundable and stays non-refundable under the bill.
FOSTER CARE SERVICES AND LEARNING CONTINUITY: Meant to ensure continuity of learning for children in foster care. Requires school districts to work with area education agencies to provide services and guidance to schools to develop systems for ease of transition for students in the foster care system.
RETIREMENT INCENTIVE PROGRAM AGE LIMITS: This expands the option for school districts to offer early retirement incentive packages paid for out of the district's management levy to those who retire over the age of 55, striking the previous statutory cap of age 65.
GPS TRACKING DEVICES: All Iowa law enforcement officers can apply to a judge for a search warrant to place a global positioning device on a motor vehicle. The legislation expands a previous state law, which only allowed special agents of the Iowa Department of Public Safety to obtain a search warrant to use a vehicle-tracking GPS device.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR EARLY LITERACY AND DYSLEXIA DEFINITION: Expands on the early literacy language from previous Iowa education reform legislation regarding third grade literacy and retention for non-proficient readers. Requires the Iowa Reading Research Center to collaborate with area education agencies and the Iowa Department of Education to provide professional development to school districts at no cost to the district. Reading assistance must include strategies to address dyslexia.
KNOXVILLE RACEWAY: The Knoxville Raceway, which claims the title of "Sprint Car Capitol of the World," will receive a state sales tax rebate of up to $2 million to help pay for a major expansion project at the Marion County Fairgrounds that could cost up to $8 million. The track attracts about 200,000 admissions annually, including fans from as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
TAX ON NATURAL GAS AND SPECIAL FUEL: This changes the excise tax on compressed natural gas used as special fuel to 21 cents per gasoline gallon equivalent. This is the rate that makes it equivalent to the motor fuel tax. Under current law the rate of tax is measured in pounds. This also establishes an excise tax on liquefied natural gas used as special fuel of 22.5 cents per diesel gallon equivalent. This is the rate that makes it equivalent to the diesel fuel tax.
WIND ENERGY/COGENERATION TAX CREDIT: This provides a two-year extension for the in-service date of the tax credit for wind energy and other renewable energy facilities that have been awarded production tax credits. The new law also adds methane gas, landfill gas and biogas as allowed fuel sources for an existing cogeneration subcategory.
RENEWABLE FUELS: This provides that the E-15 tax credit will remain at 3 cents per gallon except for the summer blend period, which extends from June 1 through Sept. 15. During this period, the per-gallon credit will increase to 10 cents per gallon.
ADOPTION INVESTIGATIONS AND REPORTS: This requires a pre-placement investigation and report must include an examination of the criminal and child abuse records of the prospective parents, including all of the following: criminal, child abuse, and sex offender registries; child abuse registries maintained by other states in which the parents have lived in the last 5 years; and national biometric identification-based criminal records. A post-placement investigation and report will consist of no less than three face-to-face visits with the child to be adopted. They will include documentation verifying that any unique needs of the child are being met before the adoption is finalized and a background information investigation of the medical and social history of the biological parents.