SF 399 – Non-controversial Secretary of State’s elections bill
SF 408 – Architects technical changes from registration to licensure
HF 471 – Precinct Consolidation
HF 295 – Preemption/Minimum Wage
HF 516/SF474 – Voter ID/Suppression bill
HF 568 – Pari-Mutuel wagering technical changes for dog/horse tracks
HF 295 prohibits a city or county from adopting an ordinance, motion, resolution or amendment on conditions of employment that exceed or conflict with federal or state law on minimum or living wage rate, employment leave, hiring practices, benefits, scheduling, or other terms or conditions of employment. Any action adopted prior to the effective date of the bill becomes void and unenforceable. The same provisions apply to the sale or marketing of consumer merchandise and containers. The bill is effective upon enactment.
[3/27: 29-21 (party-line, D. Johnson voting “no” with Democrats)]
SF 399 is a non-controversial elections bill from the Iowa Secretary of State. The bill clarifies what to do if a candidate nominated for partisan office by a political convention withdraws his/her name from nomination. This process was made identical to the withdrawal provisions presently provided for candidates from nonparty political organizations 44.9(4b). In the event that a candidate does withdraw, the nominating entity would have an opportunity to fill that ballot vacancy if the candidate filing deadline has not passed. Division III prohibits a representative of a political party on a precinct election board from changing political parties to vote absentee in the election for which they are serving as a representative. It allows the individuals to be at polling places for educational voting programs. Division IV allows tenants of dementia-specific assisted living programs to vote by absentee ballot, the same as patients or residents in hospitals or health care facilities. The bill includes technical corrections to clean up the school board election process. A Senate amendment was adopted, striking section 4, which dealt with font size type under the straight-party voting sections of the ballot. Since the straight-party voting option was eliminated in the Voter ID/Suppression bill, this section of technical clean-up in now moot.
[3/27: 46-0 (Bertrand, Bisignano, Danielson, D. Johnson excused)]
SF 408 (referred from Commerce) requires licensure rather than registration of architects practicing in Iowa and makes conforming changes to Code sections that reference registration as an architect. The term “licensure” is used when a professional’s actions are regulated by a Practice Act, and the credentials are more rigorous (involving education, training and examination requirements). “Registration” refers to a state roster that may include regulation by a Title Act, which does not apply in Iowa. The Iowa Chapter of the American Institute of Architects requested the legislation to better reflect the occupational regulation based on public health, safety and welfare. In Iowa, engineers and landscape engineers are licensed rather than certified, and all states bordering Iowa (except Wisconsin) require architect licensure.
[3/28: 49-0 (Rozenboom excused)]
HF 516 is the Voter ID/Suppression bill that was introduced by Secretary of State (SOS) Paul Pate. In 2016, 1.6 million Iowans (79 percent of active, registered voters) cast ballots in the general election. There were 10 votes thought to be irregular. Most of these were human error and not voter fraud. There is no evidence that the proposals introduced by Secretary Pate and House Republicans would have prevented the 10 voting “irregularities.” According to the Secretary of State, there are 85,000 registered voters who do not have an ID. This does not include the approximately 260,349 eligible voters in Iowa who are currently not registered to vote. Voter ID laws have a profoundly negative effect on the voting rates of minorities, low-income Iowans, older Iowans and those with disabilities. A report by the Center for Policy Alternatives found that 10 percent of people with disabilities do not have a photo ID. Approximately 253,306 of Iowa’s active voters may have at least one disability. Below is a detailed breakout of the bill’s provisions.
General Provisions: HF 516 makes technical changes and creates a penalty for any violation of chapter 48A (Voter Registration) not already assigned a penalty: election misconduct in the 4th degree, a simple misdemeanor. The bill sets a new deadline for submitting a voter registration to within 7 days of receiving the form. If the election is within three days, the form must be submitted within 24 hours. There is currently no deadline.
- A person cannot request a ballot more than 120 days before the date of the election.
- New: Latest date to request an absentee ballot is 10 days before the general and 11 days before the primary.
- The bill requires the voter to put their voter verification number on their request form.
- The bill requires the request for ballot be the same as the voter registration deadline.
- If a request is picked up by a political party or agent after the deadline, it must be returned in 24 hours.
Same Day Registration Changes: Under current law, to register to vote on an Election Day, you show photo ID, fill out the registration form, sign an oath and provide proof of residency. If the ID does not have a photo, they can use a residential lease, property tax statement, utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or another government document. The bill requires that the document must now be dated and be current within 45 days.
Voter Registration Card: The legislation requires the SOS to compare lists with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Registration card implementation does not happen unless the Legislature determines there is enough money to implement the program. The bill strikes all appropriations. A fiscal note indicates there will be a one-time cost to SOS of about $200,000 and various local costs. The bill shortens the required time for the commissioner of elections to send an acknowledgement card from 45 to 21 days, if the person registers to vote on Election Day. This would include the new voter registration card.
Photo ID Requirements: Current law allows for a registered voter to vote without having to show a form of identification. However, a precinct official may require a voter to show ID if they do not recognize them; a person has moved from where they registered to vote; or if their right to vote is being challenged. Under the Republican plan, before ANY voter is given a ballot, they must prove identity by showing a form of identification. Accepted forms include:
- Iowa Driver’s license/ Non-operator’s ID
- United States passport
- United States military ID or veterans ID (a veterans ID that does not contain a signature is not subject to challenge)
- No ID will be required for those who are a resident or patient in a nursing home or hospital.
If the precinct official determines that photo appears to be someone else, they may challenge the status of that voter and that person must fill out a provisional ballot. A person who cannot establish identity is allowed to vote on a provisional ballot.
If a registered voter cannot provide identification, they may establish identity by having another registered voter who lives in the precinct attest by signing an oath for them.
As with current law, the person filling out a provisional ballot has to go back to the auditor’s office and provide an appropriate form of identification before the ballot is counted. While the process of filling out a provisional ballot does not change, there are now far more regulations that will vastly increase the number of provisional ballots cast. In 2016, 2,475 provisional ballots were cast; 648 were rejected.
This legislation adds new language that allows the commissioner of elections to dispute an application for an absentee ballot if the signature appears to be signed by someone else. The commissioner must notify and allow for a new request or the voter can update the signature on record. They can do this over the phone, in person or in writing.
Division III – Polling Places: Currently, 72 counties use some type of electronic poll books. It is important to note that not all of these counties use electronic poll books at every precinct. There is also a ban on photographic devices and the display of voted ballots if the intent is to interfere with other voters or orderly operation of the polling place. Currently, there is a ban on the use of cameras, telephones, pagers or other electronic communication devices in the voting booth.
Division IV – Election Certification and Audits: Current law does not require a post-election audit. The bill creates a new certification that the County Commission must complete no later than 20 days after the general election.
Division V – Voter Misconduct and Reporting: The bill creates new language that directs a county attorney to review the voter registration documents for every same-day registrant and report findings to the auditor and Secretary of State. Also, it directs the SOS to inform the county auditor if there are reports of people voting twice in the same election, and directs the county auditor to provide information to the county attorney if they receive reports of a person attempting to vote twice.
Division VI- Straight-Party Voting: Iowa is one of 10 states that currently allow voters to vote a straight ticket; HF 516 eliminates straight-party voting as an option for Iowans.
Division VII – Public Education: Requires the SOS and stakeholders to work with county auditors to develop and implement a plan for public education that includes multimedia advertising. No funding is provided.
[3/22: 26-21 (party-line, D. Johnson “no” with Democrats; Anderson, Bertrand, Shipley absent)]
HF 471 allows county auditors to consolidate precincts for primary and general elections. The Code currently allows this consolidation option for school and city elections.
[3/28: short form]
HF 568 is a bill proposed by the Department of Inspection & Appeals and makes uniform pari-mutuel horse and dog racing standards that come from the industry. The bill amends the Code section related to drugging or numbing of race horses or dogs to current industry standards that say ice is not a freezing device or substance for numbing. Another section concerning the administration of furosemide or phenylbutazone to race horses is amended to say that dosage amounts/limits must be set by the racing and gaming commission, not by Code. The bill also provides that furosemide be administered to a horse by a veterinarian licensed by the commission, instead of by a veterinarian employed by the owner or trainer of the horse. Finally, the bill makes a technical change so a dog or horse track can directly check the setoff requirements for those winning more than $1,200. The setoff list is a list of those who owe money to an eligible public agency.
[3/28: short form]