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The Kalona News

April 20, 2017 Opinion - 04-20-2017
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

Legislative session nears end

On the Hill

By Rep. Jarad Klein

April 10 - April 14

Week 14 was our last scheduled full week. It was a busy one with several of the final bills passing the House floor. In addition to my busy week in Des Moines, on Thursday my wife and I welcomed our fifth child into the world. Violet Elizabeth Klein joined us healthy and happy.

This week, I will discuss the firearms bill. Some have expressed concern over the bill and have questioned what it actually means for Iowans’ freedom and safety. A short summary of the bill is provided below to clarify what HF 517 does and does not do to Iowa law.

When Governor Branstad signed HF 517 last week, firearms laws in Iowa will change for the better. After 7 years of hard work, The House successfully passed a comprehensive bi-partisan bill protecting Second Amendment Rights for Iowans.

What the bill does:

Iowans will be allowed to legally possess short-barreled rifles and shotguns if they adhere to strict federal laws.

Private Investigators and Security Guards who have a permit to carry weapons will be allowed to carry on school grounds, while engaged in the performance of their duties.

Permits to carry firearms and permits to acquire will be uniform in appearance and issued for 5 years. For an initial permit to carry, a person is required to take a firearms safety class that includes handgun safety. Language in the bill also makes it easier to get a duplicate permit if a person has moved counties. A person who is denied a permit and wins on appeal shall be awarded attorney fees and court costs.

Parents now have the opportunity to teach their children how to safely handle firearms. The changes also allow an instructor to work with a person under 21 to teach firearms safety.

Anyone who has a professional or nonprofessional permit to carry or a permit to acquire will now have their personal information kept confidential. The information will only be available in limited circumstances to law enforcement.

Current law and language in this bill prohibit a political subdivision from enacting ordinances that restrict firearms possession. The bill adds language to clarify that a political subdivision includes only a city, county or township. A person who is adversely affected by a political subdivisions ordinance or rule regulating firearms, may file suit seeking a injunctive relief.

Under current rule, the general public is prohibited from carrying firearms in the State Capitol. The bill ends this rule and allows a person who has a permit to carry, to conceal and carry a pistol or revolver in the Capitol Building and surrounding grounds and parking. A person must show their permit to carry to Capitol Security if requested.

The Governor will no longer be able to suspend Second Amendment rights in a state of emergency.

A person can use reasonable force, up to and including deadly force to protect themselves and others, if there is a reasonable belief that force is necessary. Iowans no longer have a duty to retreat from any place they are legally allowed to be. Additionally, a person is presumed to be justified in using deadly force if they believe it is necessary to protect them selves or others in their home, place of business or vehicle. Language was added requiring a person who uses deadly force to notify law enforcement and to not destroy evidence or influence witnesses.

The bill increases the penalty for straw purchases to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals barred from legally possessing firearms.

An owner of private property in an unincorporated area of a county may fire weapons for target shooting on the private property. Using the property in this manner is not a violation of noise ordinances or a public or private nuisance.

A person charged with 708.6 (Intimidation with a dangerous weapon) or 724.26 (Possession, receipt, transportation, or dominion and control of firearms, offensive weapons, and ammunition by felons and others) will be required to see a judge before being released on bond.

What the bill does NOT do:

No part of HF 517 allows Iowans to shoot whomever they want for any reason, as some opponents have suggested. The stand your ground language is designed to allow Iowans to protect themselves from actual threats. Iowans are no longer required to retreat from a place they are legally allowed to be and don’t have to worry about civil lawsuits if they act in self-defense.

The bill does not allow children to carry firearms. Under current law a person under legal age can shoot long guns with supervision. The changes in HF 517 make laws for pistols and revolvers similar to laws for long guns. This allows parents or instructors to teach a person under 21 how to safely handle and fire pistols and revolvers and supervise them while they use the firearm.

HF 517 does not eliminate permits to carry weapons or background checks. Under current law, Iowans must have a permit to carry firearms in most situations. That law remains in place and is updated to ensure permits are uniform across the state and that the training requirements are clear. Everyone who applies for a permit to carry or permit to acquire is subject to a background check by their local sheriff’s office.

Opponents have also used examples of recent shootings around the country to highlight the dangers of HF 517 and have claimed the bill allows people with mental health issues, criminals and others banned from possessing firearms to have access to the weapons. The bill does not change who can legally own firearms, those who are prohibited under current law are still prohibited. The bill only expands rights for Iowans who can legally own firearms. Additionally, there is an increased penalty for anyone who provides a firearm to a person who is banned.

I would like to thank everyone for the emails and calls I have received over the session. I am always working to respond, but do know that I have read your concern. As we start to wrap up, please do not hesitate to reach out with any last minute questions or concerns. My email is jarad.klein@legisl.iowa.gov and my cell phone is 515-689-5430.

New Republican push voting road blocks for Iowans

Rep. Amy Nielsen

House District 77

Voters in Iowa will have more hurdles and less time to vote next year after Republican lawmakers approved new changes to Iowa’s elections. These changes include shortening the voting window and requiring a photo ID to vote. The legislation has been pushed by Republican lawmakers despite opposition from both local election officials and voting rights advocates due to the new regulations and challenges voters will face.

The effects of the proposal could make it harder for over the 200,000 Iowans who don’t currently have the required documents to vote. The impact of the legislation will especially hurt the elderly, disabled, minorities, and low-income Iowans who disproportionately lack the needed requirements.

The elimination of 11 early voting days could make it harder for Iowans to vote and gives communities less time to have satellite voting locations throughout their area. Approximately 34,000 Iowans voted in the first 11 days of early voting last year.

Once again, House Democrats offered multiple amendments that would have made voting easier for Iowans by expanding the number of IDs accepted and keeping the early voting timeline in place.

“Policing for

Profit” bill advances through House

A bill that will help curtail civil asset forfeiture has been approved by the House. Described by the Institute for Justice, as “Policing for Profit,” civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement officers to seize assets they believe are involved in illegal activity. The owner of the property does not have to be charged with a crime to have the civil forfeiture of assets be valid.

Senate File 446 would require a criminal conviction for the government to keep any property that is taken by civil forfeiture that is valued at $5,000 or less. To avoid this requirement, a prosecutor has the burden to prove that the value of any property that is seized exceeds $5,000.

The bill also increases the level the state must prove to keep anything that is civilly seized from someone over $5,000. Under current law, the government only has to prove it is more likely than not, or by the “preponderance of the evidence,” that the forfeiture is valid. SF 446 would require “clear and convincing” evidence, or generally that it is highly probable that the civil forfeiture was appropriate. This increased burden on the government means that it will be easier for everyday people to prove that the government overstepped its role and had no basis for taking someone’s property.

SF 446 also requires additional record keeping on law enforcement agencies for any property that is civilly seized. The law enforcement agency must keep detailed records on the amount of property as well as the disposition of any seized property. These records must be open to the public.

Senate File 446 passed the House on a vote of 95-1 and now goes to the Governor.

GOP plans higher

tuition, Early Childhood cuts in budget

Budget documents released this week show Republican lawmakers plan to increase tuition and make significant cuts in early childhood education to pay for hundreds of millions in corporate tax breaks that put the state budget in deficit this year.

The education budget, which was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, cuts an additional $10 million from Iowa’s three state universities next year. Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers cut $18 million from the universities to cover part of the state budget deficit. The budget also eliminates the Flood Center at the University of Iowa (which jeopardizes federal funding) and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State.

Republican lawmakers are planning an additional $1.7 million in cuts to early childhood education programs for at-risk children like Head Start and Shared Visions preschool.

The bills will likely be debated on the House floor next week.

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