Judiciary Committee Report – week 10, 2017

SF 332 – Changes to the controlled substance schedules
SF 333 – Fiduciary’s access to digital assets
SF 358 – Electronic applications for search warrants
SF 403 – Theft of equipment rental property
SF 405 – Substantive Code Editor’s bill
SF 415 – Immunity from certain criminal offenses after seeking emergency medical care
SF 444Traffic safety bill, use of handheld electronic devices and a 24/7 program
SF 445 – Law enforcement officer privilege and confidentiality of certain personnel records
HF 52 – Bailiffs and interference with official acts
HF 133 – Guardians ad litem and attorneys for children
HF 183 – Service of court documents regarding dependent adult emergency protective services
HF 253 – Children in the middle, paternity and obligation for support



Senate File 332 is a Board of Pharmacy bill that makes changes to the controlled substance schedules to conform to scheduling actions taken by the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration.
[3/13: 49-0 (Bertrand absent)]


Senate File 333 creates a new Code Chapter: “Iowa Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.”

This bill will help Iowa law address changes in technology that allow people to store property and communications as data on a computer server that is accessed via the Internet. As defined in the bill, a digital asset means “an electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest.” In addition, “electronic” is defined as “relating to technology having electrical, digital magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic, or similar capabilities.” Examples of digital assets include a person’s Facebook, Hotmail, Google or electronic banking accounts. As defined in the bill, “custodians” are defined as the companies that provide the accounts to users and store digital assets.

Under current law, when a person dies or becomes incapacitated, heirs and fiduciaries may be prohibited from accessing their digital assets. This bill provides a uniform and consistent framework to allow individuals and their fiduciaries to plan for dealing with a person’s digital assets in those situations. Under the bill, Internet users will have control over their digital assets by specifying if their digital assets should be preserved, distributed to heirs or destroyed.  The bill provides default rules to govern access to digital assets for executors and administrators of a decedent’s estate, agents under a power of attorney, guardians, conservators and trustees.

Significant portions of the bill include:

  • An account user may use an online tool provided by the custodian of an online account (e.g., Facebook) to direct a custodian to disclose or not disclose some or all of the user’s digital assets to a designated recipient.
  • If a user has not used an online tool or if the custodian has not provided an online tool, the user may allow or prohibit disclosure to a fiduciary in a will, trust, power of attorney or other record. Disclosure at the direction of a user can relate to some or all of the user’s digital assets, including content of electronic communications.
  • A fiduciary does not possess any new or expanded rights beyond that of the user.
  • There is no requirement to disclose a digital asset that was deleted by the user.
  • If disclosure of some digital assets imposes an undue burden, the custodian or fiduciary may seek a court order regarding disclosure.
  • Disclosure of content of electronic communications of a user to a fiduciary requires that a fiduciary provide specific documents to the custodian, depending upon what type of fiduciary is requesting the information.
  • Disclosure of non-content digital assets of a user to a fiduciary also requires specific documentation as set forth in the bill to be provided to the custodian.
  • If the request for disclosure of digital assets is made by a guardian or conservator, there must be an opportunity for a hearing, after which a court may grant access to any digital assets other than content of electronic communications. A guardian or conservator may request suspension or termination of an account.
    [3/13: 49-0 (Bertrand absent)]


Senate File 358 provides that search warrants may be applied for and issued electronically. Pursuant to an electronic application, magistrates can communicate electronically with the applicant and the magistrate may administer the person’s oath or affirmation by electronic means. In addition, an inventory of any property seized pursuant to the warrant may be filed with the magistrate or clerk of court. Current law requires the inventory to be filed with the magistrate. The Senate adopted an amendment for the Judicial Branch to establish processes and procedures for applications for and issuance of search warrants              through electronic means. This is because it is anticipated that the process will be done through the Electronic Document Management System (EDMS), which is controlled and overseen by the Judicial Branch. The amendment also adds a contingent effective date. The Act will take effect on the effective date of the rules prescribed by the Supreme Court and submitted to the Legislative Council pursuant to this legislation. The Judicial Branch was concerned about a July 1, 2017 enactment date, as their budget is precarious, and they are working on many technology projects.
[3/9: 48-0 (Anderson, Bertrand absent)]


Senate File 403 adds theft of equipment rental property to the definition of theft. The aggregate value of the equipment rental property must be the original retail value of the property. Evidence of the intent to deprive the owner of the property includes using a false name, address or other identification, or deception to obtain the use and possession of the equipment rental property. It is also evidence to deprive the owner of the property if a person lawfully obtains the property, but fails to return the property or pay the fair market value of the property within 48 hours after receiving a written notice and demand from the owner.
[3/13: 49-0 (Bertrand absent)]


Senate File 405 is the Substantive Code Editor’s bill that adjusts language to reflect current practices, inserts earlier omissions, deletes redundancies and inaccuracies, and removes temporary language.

[3/15: 49-0 (Horn absent)]


Senate File 415 provides immunity from criminal prosecution for alcohol-related offenses if a person in good faith contacts first responders or law enforcement to seek emergency assistance for an alcohol-related overdose or assistance as a result of an assault, sexual abuse or human trafficking.

[3/15: 49-0 (Horn absent)]


Senate File 444 is a traffic safety bill. It has two distinct parts:

Division l- Use of an Electronic Communication device while driving: If a person is using a handheld electronic communication device while driving and causes an accident that results in a homicide or serious injury, it will be considered prima facie evidence of reckless driving, a Class “C” felony. Exclusions from the definition of “handheld electronic device are:

  • A member of a public safety agency performing official duties and acting reasonably.
  • Health care professionals or EMS providers in the course of an emergency acting in a reasonable manner.
  • A person using an electronic communication device in a hands-free or voice-operated mode.
  • “Using an electronic communication device by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication.”
  • Global positioning systems, navigation systems or devices that are physically or electronically integrated into a vehicle.

Division II – Statewide Sobriety and Drug Monitoring Program: This division requires the Department of Public Safety to create a statewide sobriety and drug monitoring program for jurisdictions (e.g., counties) that want to participate. If a defendant is charged with an offense that involves abuse of alcohol or a controlled substance, a court or officer of a participating governmental entity may (as a condition of bond, pretrial release, sentence,  probation, parole or a temporary restricted license) require the defendant to participate in the sobriety and drug monitoring program.

A defendant may be ordered to:

  • Abstain from alcohol and controlled substances.
  • Submit to twice-per-day testing to determine if alcohol or drugs are being used.
  • Use an alternative method to twice-per-day testing if it creates a hardship or is geographically impractical.

Participants who fails to show up for testing or tests positive  can be jailed for up to 24 hours pending a hearing. If it’s a failure to show up, the magistrate can issue a warrant for the arrest of the participant. The divisions relating to the statewide sobriety and drug monitoring program are repealed July 1, 2022.
[3/9: 48-0 (Anderson, Bertrand absent)]


Senate File 445 relates to law enforcement officer privilege. The bill prohibits requiring a law enforcement officer to give evidence in any criminal proceeding or to be questioned regarding:

  • Personal identifying information about the law enforcement officer or immediate family members or any information unrelated to the officer’s duties that could be used to threaten, harm or intimidate the officer or the officer’s family.
  • Identification documents necessary to conduct a lawful undercover criminal investigation.

In addition, the name, photograph, compensation and benefit records, time records, residential address or any other personal identifying information of an undercover law enforcement officer must be confidential while the undercover officer is actively involved in an investigation. The Senate adopted an amendment clarifying the definition of an undercover law enforcement officer.
[3/15:  49-0 (Horn absent)]



House File 52 adds county provided bailiffs to the list of professions that are included in the interference with official acts Code section, thus providing that if a person knowingly resists or obstructs a bailiff in the performance of the bailiff’s duties, that person can be charged with interference with official acts. Under current law, peace officers, jailers, emergency medical providers and firefighters are considered “officials” under the law.
[3/14: short form]


House File 133 clarifies the roles and distinctions between a guardian ad litem appointed to represent the best interests of a child and an attorney appointed to represent a child in a family law case. It prevents a person from acting as both the guardian ad litem and a child’s attorney. An attorney’s job is to advocate for the child’s wishes and, as mentioned, a guardian ad litem advocates for the child’s best interests. The bill details and expands the duties of the children’s attorneys and guardians ad litem, and in addition, it clarifies that lawyers should not testify as witnesses or reporters in family law cases.
[3/14: short form]


House File 183 expands the categories of those who could be served with a petition for protective services relating to a dependent adult. Current law sets out an order of priority of those who are to be served and once the Department of Human Services has served a person in one of the categories, it is not required to serve anyone else in the other categories. This bill adds a dependent adult’s spouse (only if they are not legally separated), the dependent adult’s parents and the dependent adult’s grandparents.
[3/14: short form]


House File 253 modifies Code Chapter 600B relating to paternity and obligation for support when parents are not married. The modifications are intended to provide consistency between Chapter 600B and Chapter 598, which deals with custody actions between married parents. The bill provides that any party found in contempt for failing to pay child support under Chapter 600B can be ordered to pay attorney’s fees of the complaining party. In addition, the bill requires unmarried parents involved in custody actions to complete a court-approved Children in the Middle course.
[3/14: short form]