Judiciary Committee Report – Week 7, 2018

SF 2098 – Clerks of Court probate procedures and the electronic data management system
SF 2099 – Small estates
SF 2135 – Failure to wear a motor vehicle safety belt or safety harness
SF 2139 – Powers of an agent under a power of attorney relating to real property
SF 2146 – Reporting of burn injuries
SF 2167 – Interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications by state agents
SF 2175 – Partition of property in kind and by sale
SF 2197 – Vehicle theft enhancements
SF 2229 – Mechanic’s liens and collateral security
SF 2235 – Critical Infrastructure
SF 2254 – Human Trafficking of persons under age 18
SF 2372 – Medical Cannabidiol
SF 2373 – Child Endangerment
SF 2374 – Joint physical care
SF 2375 – No criminal statute of limitations for sex abuse of a child
SF 2378 – Terms for members of corporate boards of directors
SJR 2010– Victims’ Rights Constitutional Amendment 



Senate File 2098 updates the probate Code sections to reflect current practice using the electronic document management system.
[2/19: 49-0 (Absent: Sinclair)]


Senate File 2099 increases the size of what qualifies as a small estate for probate purposes from $100,000 to $200,000. If a personal representative files to convert the estate administration to or from a small estate based on assets, a court order is not required to make the change. The clerk will make the conversion upon the filing of the personal representative’s statement. The bill makes changes to the requirements for closing the estate by sworn statement, specifies what is necessary to close a small estate and clarifies that clerks of court must close a small estate without a court order upon proof that the closing statement has been served and assets have been distributed. In the alternative, the clerk will close the small estate 60 days after filing of the closing statement and proof of service.
[2/19: 49-0 (Absent: Sinclair)]


Senate File 2135 relates to failure to wear a seat belt that results in injuries in an accident. Under current law, if an individual is injured in a motor vehicle accident, and it can be shown that their failure to wear a seatbelt or safety harness contributed to their injuries, the damages awarded in a civil suit may be reduced by up to 5 percent of any award. The bill increases that amount by which damages can be reduced up to 25 percent. There must be substantial evidence that failure to wear the seat belt or safety harness contributed to the injury.
[2/20: 48-0 (Absent: Behn, Zumbach)]


Senate File 2139 comes from the Iowa State Bar Association and gives specific additional powers relating to real property if an agent (person given power over another’s financial matters) in a financial power of attorney is given general authority over a person’s interests in real property. If the power of attorney does not specifically restrict an agent’s power, the agent could relinquish any and all of the principal’s rights of dower, homestead and elective share. Dower is a spouse’s right to a portion of their deceased spouse’s real property. An elective share is the property that a surviving spouse can choose to receive contrary to a deceased spouse’s will. The bill is effective upon enactment.
[2/19: 49-0 (Absent: Sinclair)]


Senate File 2167 purports to fix Code language on expanded circumstances that allow state agents to get a court order for wiretap interception. Over the years, circumstances that would authorize applications for wiretaps have been expanded. Yet there was never an amendment to the Code allowing a court to expand the reasons. The Code currently says a judge can authorize wiretaps for evidence of drug dealing only. Under this bill, the court may authorize wiretaps when there is potential evidence of any of the crimes that would authorize a warrant, including a forcible felony, felony offense involving ongoing criminal conduct, felony offense involving money laundering, a felony fugitive warrant and a felony offense involving human trafficking. These are in addition to the currently authorized warrants for drug dealing.
[2/19: 48-1 (No: McCoy; Absent: Sinclair)]


Senate File 2175 is a Bar Association bill relating to partition of property and provides the courts with procedures for partitioning property when co-tenants disagree. The bill sets procedures for partition by sale and for partition in kind (dividing the property between all owners rather than selling it and dividing the proceeds). All partition procedures will be placed in Code Chapter 651. Currently most procedures for partition are included in court rules. There are two distinct divisions in the bill; one provides procedures for all partitions; the other division includes special provisions that would apply only where real estate is “heirs’ property.” Per court rule, the courts have favored partition of property by sale; however, this bill provides a procedure when the property is heirs’ property and some of the heirs request a partition in kind, wanting to keep the property in the family.
[2/20: 48-0 (Absent: Behn, Zumbach)]


Senate File 2229 deletes Code Section 572.3, which prohibits obtaining a mechanic’s lien when a person who performs labor or supplies materials takes collateral security.
[2/21: 49-1 (No: Taylor; Absent: D. Johnson)]


Senate File 2235 creates the crime of “Critical Infrastructure Sabotage”: Any unauthorized act that is intended to cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service rendered to the pubic relating to critical infrastructure property. It does not include an accidental interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public caused by a person in the performance of work duties. Activities related to the production of farm products that cause an interruption or impairment would not be considered critical infrastructure sabotage.

Critical infrastructure property includes essentially any piece of equipment, item, etc., associated with:

  • Electrical infrastructure
  • Gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum products or chemical critical infrastructure
  • Telecommunications or broadband critical infrastructure
  • Transportation critical infrastructure
  • Wastewater critical infrastructure
  • Water supply critical infrastructure, including hydrants, meters, etc.

A person who commits critical infrastructure sabotage commits a “B” felony, which is punished by up to 25 years in prison. In addition, the person must pay a fine of $85,000 to $100,000.
[2/21: 33-16 (No: Bisignano, Bolkcom, Boulton, Danielson, Dotzler, Dvorsky, Hart, Hogg, Horn, Jochum, Lykam, McCoy, Petersen, Quirmbach, Ragan, Taylor)]



Senate File 2146 expands the circumstances under which a health care professional must report a burn injury to law enforcement. However, the bill also says that a health care professional is immune from any liability for reporting a suspicious burn injury or if they fail to report a suspicious burn injury.
[2/15: short form]


Senate File 2197 enhances the penalties for theft of a motor vehicle when the stolen vehicle is subsequently used in the commission of a felony or forcible felony. In addition, the bill enhances the penalty for operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent if the vehicle is subsequently used in the commission of a felony or forcible felony.
[2/15: 8-5, party line]


Senate File 2199 removes the criminal statute of limitations for sexual abuse in the first, second or third degree when the victim is under 18. Thus, criminal charges can be brought against a perpetrator at any time after the abuse has occurred.
[2/15: short form]


Senate File 2254 increases the penalty for human trafficking to a “B” felony when the victim is under 18.
[2/15: short form]


Senate Joint Resolution 2010 proposes an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that supporters claim would  protect crime victims.
[2/15: 8-5, party line]


Senate Study Bill 3102 says that a person is guilty of child endangerment if they knowingly allow another person who is a registered sex offender or required to be a registered sex offender because of a conviction for an offense against a minor to have unsupervised access to children or  minors. In addition, the bill establishes that a charge of child endangerment can be brought against a sex offender who must register because of an offense against a child if the sex offender knowingly has unsupervised access to a child or minor.
[2/15: short form]


Senate Study Bill 3135 amends the definition of debilitating medical conditions for which a health care provider can prescribe medical cannabidiol to include a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (not just MS with severe and persistent muscle spasms); substitutes “severe or chronic pain” for “untreatable pain”; and adds “any other medical condition for which the patient’s health care practitioner determines the use of medical cannabidiol could be medically beneficial.” In addition, the bill alters the definition of medical cannabidiol by removing requirements that it be pharmaceutical grade and less than 3 percent THC.
[2/15: 12-1(No: Dawson)]


SSB 3154 creates a rebuttable presumption of joint physical care (50/50) in child custody matters when both parents are awarded joint legal custody. If the court does not award joint physical care, it must cite clear and convincing evidence that joint physical care is unreasonable.
[2/15: 8-5, party line]


Senate Study bill 3183 removes the requirement for staggered terms for members of public corporation boards of directors (Casey’s bill).
[2/15: short form]