Judiciary Committee – Week 21, 2020


SF 2182 – State Public Defender Pilot Project in child welfare cases

SF 2182 relates to the Parent Representation Project that the State Public Defender hopes to participate in. It uses a team approach to help struggling families involved in the child welfare system.

Currently, a pilot project, funded by a mix of state, federal and private dollars, operates in Dubuque, Black Hawk, Linn and Jackson counties. Apparently, Legal Aid and the Middleton Children’s Center at the Drake Legal Clinic have been involved in providing the legal representation.

The goal of the project and now the legislation is to provide legal representation to indigent parents prior to any formal juvenile court proceedings. Current funding sources are not sufficient to maintain the programs, and data indicates that this project gets positive results for families.

This bill would allow the State Public Defender to provide legal representation prior to formal court proceedings and would allow the project to expand to additional counties. Federal funds will be available to the Iowa Department of Human Services, which plans to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the State Public Defender.

The State Public Defender says the money will pay contract attorneys to represent families involved with the Department of Human Services prior to formal court proceedings being initiated.
[6/4: 49-0 (Absent: Hogg)]

HF 2402 – An act relating to the resignation of registered agents

HF 2402 comes from the Iowa State Bar Association’s Business Law Section. The bill creates a uniform effective date of resignation by a registered agent of a corporation or other business entity. Under current law, there is no uniformity throughout the business entity and organization law relating to resignations of registered agents. The bill makes resignations effective on the earlier of 12:01 a.m. on the 31st day after the day on which a resignation is filed by the Secretary of State; or upon the designation of a new registered agent for the corporation. At the subcommittee meeting, the Secretary of State’s office staff said they are taking no position on the bill, but can accomplish the changes at no extra cost.
[6/3: 49-0 (Absent: Hogg)]

HF 2411 – 24/7 Sobriety and Drug monitoring program amendments

HF 2411 amends requirements for the 24/7 sobriety program enacted in 2018. The initial legislation mandated that those who participate a sobriety and drug monitoring program (24/7) must obtain a temporary restricted license (TRL), which also is required for installation of an ignition interlock device. Since implementation of the program in Woodbury County, we’ve learned that offenders ordered into the program were not obtaining a TRL and thus couldn’t participate in the program. The bill:

  • Removes the requirement that 24/7 program participants obtain a temporary restricted license. They may apply for participation in the program, and a court may order participation without the TRL requirement.
  • Adds a requirement that prior to completing the program, a participant must prove to the law enforcement agency running the program that they have installed an ignition interlock device on all motor vehicles that they own or operate, unless the court finds:
    • The participant is ineligible for a temporary restricted license upon completion of the program.
    • The participant does not have a motor vehicle registered in their name.
  • The court must specify it is not requiring an ignition interlock device.
    [6/3: 49-0 (Absent: Hogg)]

HF 2445 – Privacy of minor victim of a sex offense in criminal or civil proceeding

HF 2445 relates to the privacy of a child victim of sex abuse, incest or sexual exploitation of a minor. The bill changes the definition of a child for the purposes of protecting a child victim’s privacy. Under current law, for purposes of the victims’ rights chapter, “child” is as anyone under 14. The bill changes the definition of “child” to anyone under 18, thus requiring that the identity of any person who is under 18 and is a victim of sex abuse, incest or sexual exploitation of a minor won’t be released to the public by any public employee unless authorized by the court of jurisdiction. The name of the child and any identifying biographical information won’t appear on the information or indictment or any other public record. In addition, any civil filings that arise from the criminal charge must require a non-descriptive designation for the victim, and the name and any identifying biographical information must not appear in filings. A defendant or the defendant’s counsel must have access to the identity of the child, but can only use the information in preparation of a defense or be subject to contempt. This protection will continue to apply after the child victim turns 18.
[6/3: 49-0 (Absent: Hogg)]

HF 2474 – Confidentiality of arrest warrant information

HF 2474 is proposed by the State Public Defender and was drafted pursuant to an agreement with the Iowa County Attorneys Association. An arrest warrant is generally confidential until the warrant has been served. However, the arrest warrant information is available to certain individuals, such as county attorneys, during this period of confidentiality but not to defense attorneys.

This bill adds a court-appointed attorney representing a specific individual in a case where an arrest warrant has been issued but not served if the defendant is in custody, to those with access to the warrant information during the confidentiality period without court authorization. The court can expressly deny access to the search warrant information to those who would otherwise have access to the warrant information.
[6/4: 49-0 (Absent: Hogg)]

HF 2502 – Preemption of local ordinances relating to carrying/possessing firearms and weapons

HF 2502 is a bill that preempts local control of weapons laws.

  • Sections 1 and 2 prohibit counties, including county zoning commissions, and cities, including a city zoning commission, from enforcing zoning regulations relating to establishment, use or maintenance of a shooting range that are more stringent than state law. However, there are really no state laws that impose regulations on shooting ranges.
  • Section 3 adds language to current law relating to political subdivisions enacting weapons ordinances. Current law says that a political subdivision cannot enact an ordinance that regulates the ownership, possession, legal transfer, lawful transportation, registration or licensing of firearms if otherwise lawful under state law. Section 3 adds that a political subdivision cannot enact an ordinance regulating the modification of weapons or firearms attachments if otherwise lawful under state law. In addition, a person adversely affected by any ordinance, measure, enactment, rule, etc., may file suit. A court must award the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees and court costs.
  • Section 4 says that if political subdivision wants to regulate carrying, possession or transporting firearms or other dangerous weapons in facilities on political subdivision property, the political subdivision must screen them and provide armed security inside the facility. The cost will be prohibitive for cities and counties.
  • Section 5 says a political subdivision must not enact an ordinance, motion, resolution or amendment regulating the storage of weapons or ammunition.
  • Section 6 mandates that the Judicial Branch allow lawfully carrying, possessing or transporting a weapon in a county courthouse or other joint-use public facility unless the court order applies only to a courtroom, court office or courthouse used only for judicial branch functions.
    [6/3: party-line (Absent: Hogg)]

HF 2554 – Continuous sexual abuse of a child

HF 2554 comes from the Iowa County Attorneys Association. It’s based on information about the difficulty children who are repeatedly abused have in articulating specific instances of abuse, and details about what happened on a particular date in a particular place.

The bill creates the crime of “Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child,” which is committed when a person 18 or older does any combination of three or more sex abuse acts in the second degree, or sex abuse in the third degree with the same child (under 14), and at least 30 days have elapsed between the first and last acts of sexual abuse.

  • Continuous sexual abuse is a “B” felony punishable by up to 50 years in prison. Most “B” felonies have a maximum 25-year sentence.
  • A jury does not need to unanimously agree on which specific acts were committed or the exact date those acts were committed; the jury only must agree that three or more acts of abuse were committed with the same child and at least 30 days elapsed between the first and last acts of abuse.
  • A person will be charged with one count of continuous sexual abuse unless there was more than one child involved in the offense.
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child will be a Tier III sex offense for registry purposes. This is the toughest tier.
  • Continuous sexual abuse is classified as an aggravated offense against a minor, which subjects the offender to residency requirements.
  • If the child is 12 or under, the defendant may be ordered to undergo hormonal intervention therapy.
    [6/3: 49-0 (Absent: Hogg)]

HF 2535 – Nonsubstantive Code Editor’s bill

HF 2535 is the Nonsubstantive Code Editor’s bill. It’s submitted each year by the Iowa Code Editor to the Judiciary Committee to make Code changes that exceed the Code Editor’s editorial authority but are nonsubstantive and noncontroversial in nature. In some cases, the changes are within the Code Editor’s authority but are significant enough that public notice of the changes by means of this bill is considered important. Example of nonsubstantive changes include separating paragraphs into subparagraphs but not changing the language, or fixing grammatical mistakes.
[6/3: 49-0 (Absent: Hogg)]

HF 2536 – Substantive Code Editor’s bill

HF 2536 is the Substantive Code Editor’s Bill. It’s submitted annually by the Iowa Code Editor to the Judiciary Committee pursuant to Iowa Code Section 2B.6 and Joint Rule 11. This bill makes various changes throughout the Code, including, but not limited to, correcting language to conform to other Code language or current practices, eliminating conflicting language or ambiguous language, and repealing or striking redundant language.
[6/3: 49-0 (Absent: Hogg)]

HF 2581 – Changes to Iowa Hemp Act

HF 2581 amends the Iowa Hemp Act (IHA) as follows:

  • Modifies current testing requirements by mandating a designated lab determine whether the hemp sample has an acceptable THC concentration, resulting from post decarboxylation analysis.
  • Clarifies that individuals are exempt from applicable criminal offenses if they are carrying required documentation, such as a license, crop inspection certificate, or a temporary harvest and transportation permit. A person transporting hemp may also be required to carry a bill of lading.
  • Allows manufacturing, selling and consumption of “consumable hemp products” within the state as long as: (1) the product was manufactured in Iowa per Ch. 204 (IHA); (2) the hemp was exclusively produced in the state per Ch. 204 (IHA); and (3) the product complies with packing and labeling requirements per Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) rule.
  • Defines “consumable hemp products” as those with substances that metabolize or are subject to a bio-transformative process when introduced to the human body, excluding products intended for inhalation.
  • Allows importing consumable hemp products for use as long as the originating state’s hemp plan has USDA approval and testing requirements are substantially similar to Iowa.
  • Requires a consumable hemp manufacturer to register with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS )or a consumable hemp seller to register with DIA, and both may impose a fee to recoup registration costs.
  • Prohibits political subdivisions from adopting any ordinance, rule or regulation for manufacturing, selling or consumption of consumable hemp products.
  • Exempts products from controlled substance classification if they comply with the bill’s provisions.
  • Prohibits individuals from possessing, using, manufacturing, marketing, transporting, delivering or distributing harvested hemp products if intended for inhalation, excluding products authorized under federal law.
  • Penalty for violating the bill’s inhalation provisions is a serious misdemeanor, punishable by maximum one-year confinement and a fine ranging from $315 to $1,875. Anyone violating this bill would also be subject to a civil penalty ranging from $500 to $2,500 that IDALS may impose, assess and collect.
    [6/5: 48-1 (No: Whiting; Absent: Zumbach)]

HF 2589 – Changes to Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Act

HF 2589 would make the following changes to the current medical cannabidiol program:

  • Changes unemployment insurance law by creating a new disqualification for unemployment wages for marijuana use.
  • Amends “debilitating medical condition” in Code definitions by replacing “untreatable pain” with “chronic pain.”
  • Adds severe autism and PTSD.
  • Allows licensed physician assistants, advanced registered nurse practitioners, advanced practice registered nurses and podiatrists to those who can provide written certification of eligibility for medical cannabis.
  • Replaces the current 3% THC cap with 4.5 grams over 90 days as the maximum disbursement.
  • Allows the purchase limit to be increased by a certifying health care provider if: the patient has a debilitating medical condition with a life expectancy of one year or less; or the provider determines 4.5 grams is insufficient to treat a patient’s debilitating medical condition.
  • Allows dispensaries to access Department of Public Health (DPH) files to determine if a patient has received more than the permitted THC amount.
  • Directs the DPH to issue mCBD registration cards rather than the Department of Transportation (DOT), and removes the registration card’s photo requirement.
  • Removes prohibition on certain felons applying for a medical cannabidiol registration card.
  • Removes the limit on the mCBD Advisory Board’s meetings, which is currently four times per year.
  • Removes the Code provision that allows the mCBD Advisory Board to recommend statutory revisions increasing the THC level above 3%.
  • Requires dispensaries to employ pharmacists or pharmacy technicians for making mCBD dosing recommendations.
  • Allows health care practitioners to access the DPH patient registry to determine if a patient has a written certification on file.
  • Requires the DPH to conduct an observational study on mCBD efficacy while cooperating with patients and providers.
  • Requires DPH to seek federal guarantees for educational or long-term care facilities to administer or have mCBD on the property without jeopardizing federal funding eligibility.
  • mCBD registration cards issued by the DOT prior to July 1, 2020 will remain valid until the card’s expiration date.
    [6/3: 32-17 (No: Bolkcom, Boulton, Celsi, Costello, Dawson, Dotzler, Garrett, Giddens, Jochum, Mathis, Petersen, Quirmbach, Ragan, J. Smith, R. Taylor, T. Taylor, Wahls; Absent: Hogg)]


HJR 14 – Voting Rights Constitutional Amendment

Background: The Iowa Constitution, Article II, Section 5, says that “a person convicted of any infamous crime will not be entitled to the privilege of an elector.” The Iowa Supreme Court has determined that felonies are infamous crimes.

  • Iowa is the only state that DISENFRANCHISES A VOTER FOR LIFE after a criminal conviction. The Kentucky Governor recently restored voting rights to returning citizens, making Iowa the only state to permanently remove this Constitutional right from citizens.
  • The only way to get voting rights restored in Iowa is to apply to the Governor. She has reinstated voting rights for a small fraction of those who’ve applied, but claims to have streamlined the process to make it easier.
  • Returning citizens have served their time and earned the right to vote. 
  • Iowa incarcerates African-American citizens at a much higher rate. According to an ACLU report, approximately one in four black men of voting age in Iowa are prohibited from voting.

HJR 14 proposes a Constitutional amendment to allow those convicted of a felony who have discharged their sentences to vote. The proposed Constitutional amendment must pass two consecutive general assemblies. This session, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed SF 2348, defining “discharge sentence,” which prompted the Senate Judiciary Committee to take up HJR 14. SF 2348 will continue to exclude certain felons from voting, including those convicted of sex offenses, and requires complete payment of “restitution to a natural person.”

[6/5: 10-4 (No: Garrett, Shipley, Sinclair, Whiting; Absent: Sweeney)]

HF 684 – Medical amnesty in alcohol overdoses and seeking emergency assistance

HF 684 provides immunity from criminal prosecution for alcohol-related offenses if a person under 21 in good faith contacts first responders or law enforcement to seek emergency assistance for an alcohol-related overdose. To be immune from prosecution, the reporting person must:

  • Be the first to seek emergency assistance.
  • Provide their name(s) and contact information to medical or law enforcement personnel.
  • Remain on the scene until assistance arrives or is provided.
  • Cooperate with medical and law enforcement personnel.

Iowa college students and other have asked for this legislation for several years because some underage individuals will not call for emergency medical help for others, fearing prosecution, and that this legislation could save lives.

Immunity from prosecution will apply to the following offenses:

  • Public intoxication
  • Underage possession or attempt to purchase
  • Use of a fake license by an underage person to obtain alcohol

In addition, the person for whom emergency assistance was sought will not be charged or prosecuted for the listed offenses. The bill also prohibits the Regents institutions from imposing certain disciplinary measures on students  immune from prosecution under this legislation.
[6/5: 13-1 (No: Whiting; Absent: Sweeney)]

HF 2339 – Anti-SLAPP lawsuits

HF 2339:

  • Creates a Motion to Strike, a procedural mechanism at a pre-Answer stage.
  • Both sides provide the judge with affidavits that can only be used for the motion, not later in the suit.
  • A judge reviews the pleadings and affidavits, and if the judge finds the plaintiff has established the probability they’ll prevail at trial, the motion to strike is denied.
  • If the plaintiff doesn’t establish a probability of prevailing, the allegations are struck, and the suit can proceed.
  • A prevailing defendant may be awarded attorney’s fees.
  • Decisions by the court are subject to appeal.
    [6/5: 12-2 (No: Chapman, Garrett; Absent: Sweeney)]

HF 2444 – Disorderly Conduct fix

HF 2444 adds language to the disorderly conduct law. Currently, if a person makes a loud and raucous noise in the vicinity of a residence or public building, causing unreasonable distress to the occupants, it is considered disorderly conduct, a simple misdemeanor. The bill requires the loud and raucous noise be intended to cause unreasonable distress, or recklessly causes unreasonable distress.
[6/5: short form (Absent: Sweeney)]

HF 2529 – Peer Support Counseling

HF 2529 specifies that a civilian employee of a law enforcement agency who is a peer support group counselor cannot give testimony disclosing confidential communication that an officer or other civilian employee shared in counseling. This prohibition does not apply if there is consent to disclose or the counselor is a witness to the event that prompted the counseling.
[6/5: short form (Absent: Sweeney)]