Judiciary Committee – Week 8, 2021


SF 512 – Consent Agreements

SF 512 provides that a court may issue a domestic abuse civil protective order or a sexual assault civil protective order through the use of a consent agreement.  With a consent agreement, there is no finding that the respondent (accused abuser) has engaged in the abuse or sexual assault, but has agreed to the imposition of a civil protective order.

Although this may sound as though this is something the victim would not want, in actuality, consent agreements do away with the possible trauma of a hearing which would require the victim to relive abuse or assault.  It accomplishes the goal of providing the protective order which requires the respondent to stay away from the victim or face consequences, including possible jail time.
[3/1: short form (Absent: Taylor)] 

SF 513 – Crisis Intervention Information Confidentiality

SF 513 makes certain crisis intervention reports created by law enforcement confidential.  A report that relates to a person who was experiencing a mental health crisis, substance-related disorder crisis, or housing crisis, generated for the specific purpose of providing crisis intervention information to assist peace officers with de-escalating conflicts, referring a person experiencing a crisis to treatment providers or service providers, shall remain confidential.  The report shall be available to the person who is the subject of the report and may be provided to the treatment provider in connection with the referral by law enforcement but shall not be considered peace officers’ investigative reports.
[3/1: short form (Absent: Taylor)]

SF 514 – No Liability for Firearms Manufacturing or Sales

  • SF 514, along with numerous other Republican bills limiting civil liability, provides that no civil action may be brought against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, importer, distributor, trade association, seller, or dealer when the design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition for a firearm comports with the law.
  • In addition, no civil action can be brought or maintained against a manufacturer, distributor, etc., for the recovery of damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition for a firearm by a third party.
  • If there is an action brought against a manufacturer, etc.,  that is prohibited by this bill, the action shall be dismissed and the defendant will be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
  • Actions may be brought against a manufacturer, distributor, etc., for breach of contract or warranty, for damage or harm to a person or property because of defective firearm or ammunition, or for injunctive relief to enforce a valid statute, rule or ordinance.
    [3/1: 10-5, party line]

SF 515 – Reinstatement of Parental Rights

SF 515 allows for reinstatement of a parent’s parental rights after there has been a termination of parental rights and when certain, very specific conditions have been met. This bill is very compatible with the federal Families First legislation that is focused on keeping children with their families and out of foster care when possible. Although DHS is not listed in the lobby declarations, a representative of the Department spoke at the subcommittee meeting in support of this legislation.

Determining if a child is eligible:

  • The child was previously a “Child in Need of Assistance” (CHNA).
  • The goals of the case permanency plan have not been met are not likely to be met.
  • The child has no permanent placement, no permanent guardianship, is not in an adoptive placement and not likely to be adopted.
  • Former parent’s rights were not terminated for sexual abuse, near child fatality, suspicious child fatality, egregious abuse or neglect.
  • Two years have passed since the final order of termination.
  • The child is at least 12 years old when the petition is filed or younger than twelve but is part of a sibling group for whom reinstatement is being sought.

Process required to be followed:

  • If a child meets the criteria for parental rights reinstatement, the guardian ad litem, DHS, or an agency or person who has guardianship and custody of the child shall notify the child of the child’s right to petition the court for reinstatement.
  • If the former parent contacts the guardian ad litem, etc., then the child must be told of the child’s right to petition the court for reinstatement of parental rights.
  • Court shall appoint a guardian ad litem and attorney if the child does not have either at no cost to the child.
  • The petition must be signed by the child.
  • Former parents for whom reinstatement is sought must consent in writing to the petition.
  • There must be a court hearing regarding the former parent’s interest in reinstatement of parental rights considering the requirements set out in the bill.
  • If after the initial hearing the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that it’s in the best interests of the child, there is to be a hearing on the merits of the petition.
  • If court finds a former parent’s rights should be reinstated, then there is a conditional six- month period of temporary reinstatement after which a hearing will be held to determine if there should be permanent reinstatement.
    [3/1: short form (Absent: Taylor)]

SF 516 – Traffic Camera Ban

SF 516 prohibits the use of any automated or remoted systems for traffic law enforcement by the state or any local governments.   Any local authority using automated or remote systems for traffic enforcement as of the date enactment of this legislation must discontinue the use by July 1, 2021.   Any tickets issued or mailed prior to July 1, 2021, will still be valid.

The bill provides one exception and will allow Cedar Rapids to have one automated traffic enforcement device at a particular location along I-380.
[3/1:  9-6 (No: Democrats, Dawson)]

SF 520– Substantive Code Editor’s bill

SF 520, commonly referred to as the Substantive Code Editor’s Bill, is submitted annually by the Iowa Code Editor to the Judiciary Committee pursuant to Iowa Code Section 2B.6 and Joint Rule 11. The bill includes:

  • Completion of the effort to update and correct string citations by changing the word “to” to “through” and determining whether all of the Code sections are actually intended to be referenced in the citation.  This is being done to clarify each of these citations and to ensure that the correct Code sections are tagged and hypertext linked correctly.
  • Changing “herein,” “hereinbefore,” “aforesaid,” “above,” “hereinafter” and similarly vague internal references to specific references, or by striking the references, to clarify the meanings of the Code sections amended.
  • Conforming of language to other language either in the same section, or elsewhere in the Code, to improve readability and consistency.
  • Corrections to language due to oversights in or conflicts between legislation or codification issues.
  • A correction to an outdated rule-making provision that does not reflect current practice.
  • Updates to other archaic language and style to conform to current Code style.
  • Repeals of obsolete provisions.
    [3/1: short form (Absent: Taylor)]

SF 521 – Human Trafficking Task Force

SF 521 establishes a Human Trafficking Task Force within the Department of Public Safety.  The Task Force, among other things, shall:

  • Collaborate with the Office to Combat Human Trafficking
  • Examine the extent of human trafficking in the state
  • Identify current initiatives to eliminate human trafficking in the state
  • Identify services currently available to human trafficking victims
  • Utilize research and information from the US Department of Justice and the FBI
  • Develop a human trafficking informational poster and work with businesses to place the poster
  • Research and recommend a model of rehabilitative services for victims

The bill lists the required membership of the task force and requires that the findings and recommendations of the task force shall be reported to the director of the office to combat human trafficking to be included in the annual report to the Legislature.
[3/1: short form (Absent: Taylor)] 

SF 522– Older Individual Abuse

SF 522 was originally proposed by the Attorney General in previous sessions.  It provides additional criminal penalties when an older individual, defined as a person sixty years old or older, is the victim of assault, theft, consumer fraud, elder abuse, or financial exploitation. The Legislature, along with various interest groups have attempted to address the issue of elder abuse and crimes against older individuals through assorted proposals over the years. Agencies, the Department of Human Services, and other entities and interest groups that provide services to older individuals indicate that there is a significant amount of elder abuse in many forms going on throughout the state causing a need for changes in the law. 

The bill:

  • Enhances criminal penalties for second and subsequent assaults against older individuals and requires mandatory minimum sentences. 
  • Increases penalties for thefts from older individuals.
  • The bill also amends Code section 714.16A that provides for an additional civil penalty for a consumer fraud committed against an older person.  Current law allows the court in an action brought by the Attorney General for consumer fraud of an older person, to impose additional civil penalties.   Current law defines an older person as a person 65 years old or over.  The bill changes the definition of “older person” to “older individual” – a person who is 60 years of age or over. 
  • The bill creates a new crime of elder abuse of an older individual, however, the definition of “older individual” is, “a person sixty years of age or older who is unable to protect himself or herself from elder abuse as a result of a mental or physical condition or because of a personal circumstance which results in an increased risk of harm to the person.” Elder abuse means the abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, isolation, or sexual exploitation of an older individual.” The Attorney General is authorized to initiate charges of older individual abuse.
  • Creates a new crime of financial exploitation of an older individual – defined as a person sixty years old or older.
  • Moves the Dependent Adult Abuse by a caretaker into the criminal code from Dependent Adult Services Chapter 235B.
    [3/1: short form (Absent: Taylor)] 

SF 533 – Possession of Marijuana

SF 533 reduces the penalty for first time possession of five grams or less of marijuana from a serious to a simple misdemeanor.   The bill makes no changes in the penalties for possessing amounts greater than five grams or for second or subsequent convictions for possession of marijuana.
[3/3:  short form (Absent: Whiting)]

SF 534 – Criminal Penalties for Demonstrators

SF 534 is being called a “back the blue” bill by supporters.   It incorporates many elements of the Governor’s proposed legislation to increase criminal penalties for certain behaviors relating to demonstrations and rioting.   The bill does the following:

  • Any officer who has suffered any injury in the line of duty, including having a false report filed against them, can sue for damages that could include actual damages, court costs, and attorney fees.
  • A driver exercising due care and who is not reckless or whose conduct does not constitute willful misconduct is immune from civil liability if the driver injures another person who is participating in a protest, demonstration, riot, or unlawful assembly, and is blocking traffic on a public street or highway.  This does not apply if the injured person was participating in the protest or demonstration with a valid permit allowing the demonstration at the location where the injury occurred.
  • Requires the county recorders to have a process for redacting the names of law enforcement officers, judges, state and federal prosecutors from electronic documents accessible to the public through the Internet.
  • Adds that information that a peer support group counselor obtains from a civilian employee of a law enforcement agency or fire department is confidential information.
  • Includes pointing a laser at someone with the intent to cause pain or injure another in the definition of assault.
  • Includes civilian employees of law enforcement agencies and fire departments in the protected class that results in enhanced penalties for assaults upon individuals in this group of people.  Penalties are increased for assaults upon this protected group and mandatory minimums are added.
  • It will be harassment in the first degree if someone harasses another who is lawfully in a place of public accommodation.
  • Criminal mischief will include damaging public property regardless of the cost.  It’s a “D” felony.
  • Increases the penalty for rioting from an aggravated misdemeanor to a “D” felony.
  • Increases the penalty for unlawful assembly from a simple misdemeanor to an aggravated misdemeanor.
  • Creates an expansive definition of disorderly conduct that includes “knowingly and publicly using the flag of the US in such a manner as to show disrespect for the flag expecting to provoke another to commit trespass or assault.”  Included in this changed definition of disorderly conduct is language which says that it’s a serious misdemeanor when a person without lawful authority or color of authority, obstructs any street, sidewalk, highway, or other public way, with the intent to prevent or hinder its lawful use by others.
  • Requires any defendant arrested for criminal mischief, rioting, unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct by blocking streets, etc., to be held for at least 24 hours after arrest.  Defendant may be released after appearance before a judge and it is determined and that the Defendant will not continue criminal behavior and the judge explains in writing the reason for the release.
    [3/3:  10-4 (Yes: Republicans, Kinney; Absent: Whiting)]

SF 535 – Permitless Possession and Carrying of Weapons

SF 535 is a bill that makes significant changes to Iowa’s firearms permit laws.  Although proponents call it “constitutional carry”, it is really a permitless/no background checks/no training required to acquire and carry a firearm bill.   The bill:

  • Does away with the Iowa’s law requiring a permit to acquire in order to purchase a pistol or revolver.
    • That means no expanded background check by a sheriff and NO 3- day waiting period.
    • IMPORTANTLY, this means no background checks whatsoever required for private sales.
  • Does away with the requirement for a permit to carry a weapon in public.
  • Note, this would allow persons without a background check to bring concealed weapons into the Capitol.
  • Without the requirement for a permit to carry, people without any type of firearms training will be allowed to carry in public.
    [3/3: 9-5, party line (Absent: Whiting)]

SF 536 – Operating While Intoxicated and Ignition Interlock Devices

SF 536 makes significant changes to Iowa’s operating while intoxicated laws (OWI) sand the requirements relating to ignition interlock devices. The bill:

  • Prohibits the Department of Transportation from deleting any record of a person’s conviction or license revocation due to OWI violations as long as the person is alive.  Current law provides that OWI records are to be deleted by the DOT after twelve years.
  • The bill also provides that a prior conviction for reckless driving and public intoxication following an OWI arrest is considered a prior OWI conviction.
  • The bill requires that new ignition interlock devices contain a camera to take still photographs when the device prompts a person to submit a breath sample.
  • The bill requires that every person arrested for a third or subsequent OWI install an ignition interlock device on every vehicle owned or operated by the arrested person for bail purposes.
  • Under the bill a person who is convicted of a third or subsequent OWI is required to complete something called CBR – compliance-based removal.  If a person is not in compliance with the requirements relating to an ignition interlock device, the requirement for the device may be extended in varying degrees as outlined in the bill.
  • Creates a series of new penalties relating to tampering with an ignition interlock device.
    [3/3: 9-5, party line (Absent: Whiting)]

SF 537 – Lack of Tort Liability for Commercial Motor Vehicles

SF 537 makes several significant changes to Iowa’s Tort Liability Chapter 668 relating to civil actions involving commercial motor vehicles.  These changes favor employers and others who cause harm through negligent actions.

  • An employer who is a named defendant in a civil action for damages involving a commercial motor vehicle when the damages were caused by the negligence of an employee acting within the scope of employment shall only be liable for damages based solely on the legal theory of respondeat superior, not on negligent hiring, training, supervising, etc.   If the employer stipulates that the employee was acting within the course and scope of the employee’s duties, then the trial court shall dismiss any claim against the employer alleging the employer’s negligence.
  • The bill limits the amount of non-economic damages to $1 million when a commercial motor vehicle operator causes an accident that causes serious injury or death to another.  This is regardless of the number of defendants, etc.
  • Prohibits any claim for punitive or exemplary damages in a civil action to be included in any initial claim for relief.  This is not limited to claims relating to commercial vehicles.
    [3/3:  8-6 (No: Democrats, Garrett; Absent: Whiting)]

SF 556 – Blood Evidence in OWI Cases

SF 556 says that when certain healthcare professionals, as listed in the bill,  have collected blood, breath, or a urine specimen pursuant to rendering medical treatment, the specimen shall be disclosed to a prosecuting attorney for use in a criminal case or a prosecuting attorney in another state who requests the results of the analysis when there is probable cause to believe that the results will show that the person who was driving a motor vehicle, motorboat, or sailboard was intoxicated at the time of the accident. The evidence collected must be related to a criminal proceeding for operating a motor vehicle, motorboat or sailboard while intoxicated, homicide or serious injury by vehicle involving OWI, or unintentional termination of a human pregnancy as a result of injury by vehicle involving OWI.
[3/3:  11-3 (No: Bolkcom, Boulton, Petersen; Absent: Whiting)]

SF 557– Medical Malpractice

SF 557 places a hard “cap” of $1 million that can be awarded as noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases.  Noneconomic damages are those that can’t be quantified and are awarded in addition to economic damages such as healthcare costs and lost wages.
[3/3: 9-5, party – line (Absent: Whiting)]

SF 558 – Court Interpreters

SF 558 relates to interpreters and translators for limited-English-proficient (LEP) persons and sign language interpreters for deaf and hard of hearing persons in legal proceedings. The State Court Administrator will receive, review, and pay fee claims for interpreters and translators from the Jury and Witness Revolving Fund.  No interpreter or translator costs will be payable from the Indigent Defense Fund administered by the Office of the State Public Defender.
[3/3:  short form (Absent: Whiting)]

SF 559 – Adoptee Birth Certificates

SF 559 provides a process for persons who were adopted to obtain a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate after they turn 18.  In addition, if the adopted person is deceased then the spouse of the deceased person or any relative of the deceased adopted person within the second degree of consanguinity may request a non-certified copy of the deceased person’s birth certificate. Current Iowa law prohibits those who were adopted from obtaining a copy of their original birth certificate. The State Registrar of Vital Statistics of the Department of Public Health will develop a contact preference form on which a birth parent may state a preference regarding contact by the person who was adopted or their relative. In addition, the Registrar is to develop a medical history form on which a birth parent may provide family medical history. If a birth parent fills out these forms, the Registrar will attach them to the original birth certificate and the adoption decree, and the forms will be provided to the adult adoptee or relative who applies for and receives a copy of the original birth certificate and adoption decree. A birth parent may fill out a contact form and a medical form indicating that they do not wish to be contacted and require that any personally identifiable information on the copy of the original birth certificate, the contact form, or medical form be redacted.
[3/3:  short form (Absent: Whiting)]

SF 560 – Documents for the State Public Defender

SF 560 is a bill that requires an agency to furnish copies of any document in its possession that it can technologically duplicate at a cost not to exceed $10 per document at request of the Public Defender or a public defender contract attorney if the software license of the agency permits. The documents must relate to a charge or charges in a trial information.

The agencies required to produce the documents at this cost include the judicial branch, any state department or agency, county attorneys, any criminal or juvenile justice agency, or a political subdivision of the state.

Documents include police reports, photographs, audiotapes, videotapes, audio or video files on storage systems including but not limited to disk, tape, optical, and other repositories for storing digital information, and reports prepared by the department of human services.
[3/3:  short form (Absent: Whiting)]

SF 561 – Establishing a Cold Case Unit

SF 561 establishes a Cold Case Investigation Unit within the Department of Public Safety. The unit will investigate after the initial criminal investigation has been completed by the law enforcement agency conducting the initial criminal investigation, focusing on unsolved murders, missing children, and missing adults presumed to be deceased. The commissioner of the Department of Public Safety is required to appoint at least two full-time agents to the unit.
[3/3: short form (Absent: Whiting)]

SF 562 – Instructor Sexual Exploitation

SF 562 criminally penalizes anyone who is 18 or older who provides any type of training or instruction outside of the school setting to anyone under 18 if any sort of consensual romantic relationship develops. It would already be a crime if any sexual activity was not consensual regardless of the minor’s age. The bill creates the new crime of “sexual exploitation by an instructor.”

  • It will be sexual exploitation by an adult, defined as anyone 18 or older, providing training or instruction when there is a pattern or practice or scheme of conduct or any sexual conduct with a minor for the purpose of arousing or satisfying the sexual desires of the adult providing training or instruction, or the minor.  Sexual conduct includes but is not limited to:
  • Kissing, touching of the clothes or unclothes inter thigh, breast, buttock, anus, pubes, or genitals, a sex act.

Note that this is really about 16 and 17 year- olds who are receiving instruction.  It would already be a crime generally for persons 18 and over to have a sexual relationship with a person under the age of 16.  In Iowa the age of consent (for sexual relations) is 16. Under this bill any person who is 18, 19, or 20 or older can be charged with a “D” felony, for example, if they engage in kissing with a 17-year-old who they are helping with their tennis or golf lessons, their algebra class, learning a foreign language, and essentially any type of instruction outside the school setting.

Persons who are convicted under this Code section would be placed on the sex offender registry.
[3/3:  party line (Absent: Whiting)]

SSB 1017 – Sex Abuse Statutes of Limitations- Revealing Hidden Predators

SSB 1017 relates to criminal and civil statutes of limitation (SOL’s) relating to various sex crimes. The bill as amended in committee removes the following criminal and civil SOL’s:

  • A Criminal information or indictment for the following crimes may be brought at any time after the commission of the offense.
    • Sex Abuse in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree
    • Human Trafficking
    • Kidnapping
    • Incest
    • Sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee
  • A civil action for damages may be brought at any time after the commission of the following offenses.
    • Sex Abuse in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree
    • Human Trafficking
    • Kidnapping
    • Incest
    • Sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee

In addition to eliminating the civil statute of limitations in order for a victim to seek damages, the bill provides a “look back” period of three years wherein a survivor can revive a civil action for damages for harm caused by sex abuse, kidnapping, human trafficking, incest, and sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee when an action would be otherwise barred by the previously applicable statute of limitations.  It often takes years, frequently well into adulthood, for victims of sex abuse and other sex crimes to come forward to expose their abuser and seek justice.  Many child victims only comprehend and become aware of what happened to them after many, many years.   States are amending their laws as research and data show that removing the statutes of limitation help expose sexual predators who have preyed on victims for years, sometimes decades.
[3/3:  short form (Absent: Whiting)]

SSB 1154 – Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners

SSB 1154 establishes a sexual assault forensic examiner program to be administered by the Victim Assistance Division of Iowa’s Department of Justice. The Division will establish training and provide technical assistance to sexual assault examiners and sexual assault nurse examiners.  There will be an advisory committee to work with the Division as they develop the program.  Monies from the Victim Compensation Fund may be used to support the program.

The program will:

  • Maintain a list of sexual assault examiners and sexual assault nurse examiners who have completed the training requirements.
  • Develop and provide online training to treatment facilities for sexual assault examiners.
  • In collaboration with qualified medical providers, the Department of Public Health, and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault create uniform materials that all treatment facilities and federally qualified health centers are required to provide to patients and non-offending parents or guardians regarding medical forensic examination procedures and laws regarding consent relating to medical forensic services, benefits and risks of evidence collection and recommended time frames for evidence collection.
  • Update statewide sexual assault protocols and shall provide technical assistance upon request to healthcare professionals.
    [3/3:  short form (Absent: Whiting)]

HF 282 – Abuse of a Corpse

HF 282 increases the criminal penalty for abuse of a corpse from a “D” felony to a “C” felony.  “D” felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison in addition to a fine of $1,025 up to $10,245.  “C” felonies are punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of $1,375 up to $13,660.

Current Law:  708.14  Abuse of a corpse.

1.  A person commits abuse of a human corpse if the person does any of the following:

a.  Mutilates, disfigures, or dismembers a human corpse with the intent to conceal a crime.

b.  Hides or buries a human corpse with the intent to conceal a crime.

2.  A person who violates this section commits a class “D” felony.
[3/1:  short form (Absent: Taylor)]

HF 391 – Precursor Substances

HF 391 is a bill brought by the Board of Pharmacy and amends the controlled substances and precursor substances schedules in the Iowa Uniform Controlled Substances Act and prescursor substances chapter.  The changes are intended to conform Iowa law with specific designation of substances contained in federal law.  The Board of Pharmacy brings similar legislation each year in order to make amendments to Iowa’s law that conform to changes in the federal law.
[3/1:  short form (Absent: Taylor)]