Judiciary Committee – Week 22, 2020


SF 2097 – Criminal Offense of Indecent Exposure

SF 2097 amends Iowa’s indecent exposure Code section and increases the penalty for masturbating in public in the presence of a child.

  • The amendment adds a definition of masturbate to mean, physical stimulation of a person’s own genitals in public for sexual gratification or arousal, regardless of whether the genitals or public area is exposed or covered. Under current law, a person’s genitals must be exposed.
  • To be guilty of indecent exposure by masturbating, all of the following apply:
    • The person does so to arouse sexual desires of either party.
    • The person knows or reasonably should know that the act is offensive to the viewer.
  • Masturbating in public in the presence of another person who is not a child is a serious misdemeanor.
  • Masturbating in public in the presence of a child is an aggravated misdemeanor.
    [6/10: 49-0 (Absent: Feenstra)]

SF 2225 – Fixes for SF 589, the 2019 Criminal Omnibus Bill

SF 2225 has two fixes for inadvertent errors in SF 589, the criminal omnibus bill that passed during the 2019 session. One was a change in the amount stolen to qualify as theft in the third degree. The other was an error in the implementation date for reduction of the mandatory minimum sentence for robbery in the first degree.

[6/10: 49-0 (Absent: Feenstra)]

SF 2338 – COVID-19 liability protections

SF 2338 – The House did a strike-all amendment that removes the language putting “a hard cap” on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. It maintains the language limiting evidence related to past medical expenses in civil cases.

The bill, as amended, creates the “COVID-19 Response and Back-to-Business Limited Liability Act,” which essentially giving employers a pass on bad behavior and lack of protections for workers and others.  It’s confusingly written and might actually lead to increased litigation.

The bill provides these liability protections against allegations of COVID-19 exposure:

  • Prohibits individuals from bringing or maintaining civil actions unless the action: (1) relates to COVID-19 hospitalization or death; (2) involved intentional harm; or (3) constituted actual malice.
  • Provides liability protection to individuals possessing or controlling a premises for COVID-19 injuries sustained unless: (1) there is reckless disregard of a substantial or necessary risk; (2) exposure was caused through an act of malice; or (3) intentional COVID-19 exposure.
  • Creates a safe-harbor clause for individuals who are in substantial compliance with any COVID-19 federal or state statute, regulation, order or public-health guidance.
  • Provides immunity to health care providers from civil damages for causing or contributing to an individual’s COVID-19-related death or injury, while providing or arranging health care support to the state’s COVID-19 response.
  • Provides COVID-19 product liability immunity to individuals designing, manufacturing, labeling, selling and distributing supplies or personal protective equipment relating to COVID-19 response. However, immunity does not apply if the individual knew of a defect and recklessly disregarded a substantial and unnecessary risk or acted with actual malice.
  • This bill, as amended, specifies that this new Chapter does not “affect the rights or limits under workers’ compensation or the rights or limits related to police officers or firefighters under 410 or 411.
  • This act applies retroactively to January 1, 2020 and only relates to COVID-19 liability.
    [6/10: 31-18 (Party-line, Democrats and Carlin voting “no”; Absent: Bisignano)]

SF 2339 – Business Corporations Act

SF 2339, from the Business Law Section of the Iowa Bar Association, updates Iowa’s business corporations law based on the Model Business Corporation Act. The Senate adopted an amendment that specified filing fees the Secretary of State must charge for various business filings. In addition, a second-degree amendment requires that a state agency or state official not impose any requirement on a corporation that is more stringent, restrictive or expansive than a requirement imposed by state or federal law.
[6/12: 48-1 (No: Celsi; Absent: Hogg)]

HF 684 – Summoning assistance in alcohol-related emergency

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 others have asked for this legislation for several years because some underage individuals will not call for emergency medical help for others, fearing prosecution. This legislation could save lives.

Immunity from prosecution will apply to these 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 who are immune from prosecution under this legislation.
[6/10: 47-2 (No: Guth, Whiting; Absent: Bisignano)]

HF 2647 – Justice Reform bill

DIVISION I – Attorney General authority to investigate when officer causes a death

The Attorney General (AG) has original jurisdiction (to bring charges on their own) when the actions of an officer result in the death of another. The AG does not have to receive a request from the county attorney.

If the AG decides that criminal charges are not appropriate, the matter may be referred to the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy Council to determine revocation or suspension of the officer’s certification if there was officer misconduct.

DIVISION II – Use of chokeholds by officers

Use of a chokehold in making an arrest is only justified when the person cannot be captured any other way and either of these apply: the person has used or threatened to use deadly force in committing a felony; or the officer reasonably believes the person would use deadly force unless immediately apprehended.

Chokehold means the intentional and prolonged application of force to the throat or windpipe that prevents or hinders breathing or reduces the intake of air.

DIVISION III – Officers from other states, including reserve officers, applying for jobs in Iowa and Iowa applicants, revocation or suspension

A.  Prior to beginning employment in Iowa, a law enforcement officer who has been certified in another state must submit a preliminary application for certification through examination to the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy Council. The application must include an attestation by the applicant under oath:

  • whether the applicant’s certification has been revoked or suspended in another state
  • whether the applicant has pled guilty to or been convicted of a felony
  • whether the applicant has been discharged for serious misconduct from employment as a law enforcement officer.
  • whether the applicant left, voluntarily quit, or has been laid off when the applicant knew or believed that disciplinary action was imminent or pending and could have resulted in a discharge for serious misconduct.

B.  The ILEA Council must deny a preliminary application upon finding that the applicant:

  • had law enforcement certification revoked in another state
  • pled guilty to or was convicted of a felony
  • left, voluntarily quit or was laid off when disciplinary action was pending, which could have resulted in discharge for serious misconduct, if the Council determines that the applicant engaged in serious misconduct.
  • If the Council denies a preliminary application, the applicant is prohibited from continued employment as a law enforcement officer in this state.

C.  Adds a new section relating to the ILEA Council’s ability to suspend or revoke certification and adds a definition of serious misconduct:

  • serious misconduct means the improper or illegal actions taken by a law enforcement officer or reserve peace officer in connection with the officer’s official duties including, but not limited to, a conviction for a felony, fabrication of evidence, repeated use of excessive force, acceptance of a bribe, or commission of fraud.
  • The Council must revoke the certification of a law enforcement officer or reserve peace officer upon a finding that the officer has done any of at the following:
    • pled guilty to or been convicted of a felony
    • been discharged for serious misconduct from employment as a law enforcement officer or as a reserve officer
    • left, voluntarily quit, or was laid off when disciplinary action was imminent or pending, which could have resulted in discharge or the reserve officer being removed, if the Council determines there was serious misconduct.
  • The Council may revoke or suspend certification of a law enforcement officer or reserve officer for:
    • any grounds authorized by rule
    • when an employing agency recommends that revocation or suspension would be appropriate. The recommendation must be in writing and set for the reasons for the recommendation, the employing agency’s findings and any final action the employing agency took.
    • when the AG recommends to the Council that revocation or suspension would be appropriate.
  • An employing agency will notify the council within 10 days of any termination of employment of a law enforcement officer or appointment of a reserve peace officer. The notification must state whether the officer was discharged or removed for serious misconduct or whether the officer left, quit or was laid off when disciplinary action was pending. The employing agency must provide any additional information or documentation requested by the Council.
    • Information provided pursuant to this section is confidential except as otherwise required by law.
    • An employing agency, or person who acts in good faith and reasonably, is immune from liability for the release of any information.
  • The rules relating to reserve officer training and certification must include grounds for revocation or suspension of a reserve peace officer’s certification.


Every law enforcement agency will provide annual training to every law enforcement officer on issues relating to de-escalation techniques and the prevention of bias. Every officer in the state must participate in the annual training.

The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy will develop and disseminate training guidelines that include:

  • An emphasis on understanding and respect for diverse communities and the importance of noncombative methods in carrying out duties.
  • Instruction on diverse communities to foster mutual respect and cooperation.
  • An examination of the patterns, practices and protocols that cause biased law enforcement actions and tools to prevent those actions.
  • Examination and identification of key indices and perspectives among residents in a community.
  • Instruction on implicit bias and consideration of the impact of the bias, whether intentional or implicit, including historical perceptions of profiling having harmed community relations.
  • A presentation on the history and role of the civil rights movement and the impact on law enforcement.
  • Instructions on de-escalation techniques, including verbal and physical tactics to minimize use of force.

The ILEA will consult with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, groups and individuals with an interest in cultural awareness and diversity, and advocacy organizations with an interest and expertise in biased law enforcement. In addition, the academy will consult with local law enforcement agencies about challenges and barriers to training.

Any mandate to local agencies is required, regardless of lack of appropriations from the State.

DIVISION V: Effective upon enactment.
[6/11: 49-0: (Absent: Hogg)]