Judiciary Committee – Week 12, 2021


HF 561 – Mechanic’s liens

HF 561 requires that a perfected lien must be limited to the county or counties in which the building, land or improvement to be charged is situated. Current law only refers to the singular “county.” Currently, when property is located in more than one county, the lien must be filed more than once relating to each county and a contractor at times must post a bond for each lien filed for the same property.

Under the bill, in a court action to challenge a mechanic’s lien posted on a residential construction property or on any bond given in lieu thereof, if the person challenging the lien or defending against any action on the bond prevails, the court may award reasonable attorney fees and actual damages.
[3/29: 45-0 (Absent: Driscoll, Hogg, Kraayenbrink, Nunn, Sweeney)]


HF 303 – Peer Support Counselors in Law Enforcement

HF 303 specifies that a peer support group counselor who obtains information from an officer or from a civilian employee of a law enforcement agency or fire department cannot give testimony disclosing confidential communication that the officer or 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.

Current law regarding the confidentiality of information obtained in peer support group counseling applies only to information shared by officers. This bill specifically adds that information shared by civilian employees of a law enforcement agency or fire department is confidential as well.
[3/31: short form]

HF 416 – Child Support Through High School

HF 416 relates to a child support order terminating when a child reaches age 18 but is still in high school. If a child turns 18 but is still in high school full-time and continuously and is reasonably expected to complete the high school requirements, support payments for the child will continue until the child turns 19 or completes high school graduation or equivalency, whichever occurs first. This will apply to child support orders issued on or after July 1, 2021.
[3/31: short form]

HF 554 – Vacation of Termination of Parental Rights Orders

HF 554 provides a specific instance for a parent whose parental rights have been terminated to petition to have the termination order vacated: If the parent has signed a release of custody and had parental rights terminated, but the other putative parent has not had their parental rights terminated and has not consented to the adoption in lieu of termination.

Then the parent who signed the release of custody may request the court vacate the order of termination within 30 days of issuance of the order. The request must only be granted if it is in the best interest of the child.
[3/31: short form]

HF 709 – Pretrial Contact Between a Minor Witness and a Defendant

HF 709 adds a new section to the Victims’ Rights Chapter in the Iowa Code. The bill provides that a prosecuting witness who is a minor (under 18) has the right to have an interview or deposition taken outside of the presence of the defendant. Closed-circuit television may be used for an interview or deposition for the defendant to view the interview or deposition. Some other form of viewing may be used as long as the defendant does not have contact with the minor. The defendant can communicate electronically with their attorney who is in the room where the minor is being interviewed or deposed.
[3/31: short form]

HF 710 – Child Endangerment by a Sex Offender

HF 710 adds a new section to Iowa’s Child Endangerment statute. It will be child endangerment when a registered sex offender whose offense was a sex offense against a minor has control of or unsupervised access to a minor. This section will not apply:

  • When the sex offender is the legal parent or guardian of the minor and the control or unsupervised access is not otherwise illegal.
  • When the sex offender is married to and living with the legal parent or guardian of the minor and the control or unsupervised access is not otherwise illegal.

Any violation is a “D” felony, which can result in up to five years in prison and a fine.
[3/31: short form]

HF 743 – Public Defender Representing Adoptive Parents

HF 743 adds an additional duty to a local public defender’s office. Under the bill, a local public defender must represent an indigent party who files a petition for adoption to adopt a child when the local public defender’s office was previously involved in the termination of parental rights proceeding relating to the child. These relate only to Chapter 232 termination of parental rights cases which are state initiated.

If there is a conflict of interest, the adoptive parents must be referred to outside counsel who has contracted with the state public defender.
[3/31: short form]

HF 753 – Vehicular Homicide by Excessive Speeding

HF 753 adds excessive speeding causing death to the vehicular homicide Code section. If a person exceeds the posted speed limit by 25 miles per hour or more and causes the death of another person, it will be considered “Homicide or Serious Injury by Vehicle,” a class “C” felony. A “C” felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine.

This section does not apply to a member of a public safety agency while performing official duties.
[3/31: short form]

HF 757 – Ignition Interlocks

HF 757 comes from the Iowa Peace Officers Association. According to the organization, this bill will improve compliance with certain driver’s license restrictions imposed on those with OWIs (Operating While Intoxicated) and other offenses.

The bill does the following:

  • Requires an ignition interlock device (IID) to be installed only on vehicles operated by a first-time OWI offender.  Current law requires that ignition interlock devices be installed on all vehicles OWNED or operated by the offender. The cost of installing devices on all vehicles owned or operated is a disincentive to compliance.  
  • Allows those caught driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license to be eligible for a temporary restricted license (TRL). Under current law, if a person is caught driving with a suspended, barred, revoked, etc., license, the Department of Transportation must extend the period of suspension, revocation, etc., for a like period of time and not issue a temporary restricted license. This bill will allow these individuals to get a temporary restricted license.
    [3/31: short form]

HF 819 – Fundamental Parental Rights

HF 819 adds a new, stand-alone Code section titled “Fundamental Parental Rights.” The bill:

  • States that the right to direct the care and custody of a parent’s child is a parent’s fundamental right.
  • Says that any state action infringing on a parent’s fundamental right must be subject to strict scrutiny and must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.
  • States that marital status must not diminish the fundamental right of a parent, render a parent unfit or establish a compelling state interest.
  • A parent is presumed to be a fit parent, and this presumption can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence.
    [3/31: 10-5, party-line]

HF 821 – Civil Cause of Action for Harassment

HF 821 provides that when a person harasses another by reporting false information to law enforcement implicating the them in criminal activity, knowing that the information is false, or reports the alleged occurrence of a criminal act, knowing the act did not occur, the victim of the harassment may bring a civil suit against the person who filed the false report or information.
[3/31: short form]