CEDAR RAPIDS – Laws limiting Iowans’ opportunity to sue over medical malpractice, shoddy home construction and smelly livestock facilities take effect July 1.
But they will be able to enjoy a cocktail when they visit Iowa's craft liquor distilleries. That’s because state legislators agreed that unlike lawsuits against doctors, contractors and farmers, cocktails are good for economic development.
Another new law requires school officials to report to the state Board of Educational Examiners any teachers who show up at school or school events under the influence of alcohol.
Also going into effect July 1 are Senate File 51 expanding infant screening in cases when a newborn has hearing loss. The bill would require a baby be tested for congenital cytomegalovirus, or CMV, before the child is 21 days old. CMV can cause serious health problems for people with weakened immune systems, as well as babies infected with the virus before birth.
These are among the 174 bills approved by Iowa lawmakers during the 2017 session. Several major pieces of legislation – legalizing fireworks, banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, expanding gun rights, nullifying local minimum wage rates and the use of medical cannabis – went into effect when they were passed.
Among the most significant law going into effect July 1 is a hotly debated reduction of workers compensation as part of majority Republicans’ efforts to improve the state’s business environment. House File 518 will cut the amount of benefits and limit eligibility, according to the Legislative Services Agency analysis.
The impact of HF 516, the “voter integrity” bill, won’t be until Jan. 1. Poll workers will begin asking for government-issued IDs, but they won’t be required until January 2019. The bill also reduces the length of the absentee voting period before Election Day from 40 days to 29.
Passage of SF 465 will limit medical malpractice lawsuits by capping awards for pain and suffer and other noneconomic damages at $250,000, and screening out frivolous lawsuits by requiring a certificate of merit and establishing standards for expert testimony.
Changes in the “statute of repose” law limit the time homeowners have to sue over construction defects. That will lower construction costs, according to supporters of SF 413.
SF 447 will allow farmers to present an affirmative defense if sued by neighbors who claim odors or other aspects of an animal feeding operation is a public nuisance and interferes with their enjoyment of life.
Iowa craft distillers will be able to offer visitors cocktails at their manufacturing facilities as a result of HF 607. The change puts distilleries on a level playing field with wineries and breweries, proponents said.
Some parts of HF 291 went into effect upon enactment, but the full rollback of public employee collective bargaining will begin July 1. Most negotiations will be limited to wages, and union dues will no longer collected by payroll deduction. Wage increases won through arbitration would be limited to 3 percent or the increase in the consumer price index, whichever is lower.
Among other laws going into effect are:
- Establish civil damages for physical/emotional distress from abortion (SF471)
- Create a harassment crime for so-called “revenge porn” situations (HF526)
- Repeal the prohibition on unattended vehicle with motor running (HF312)
- End the election campaign income tax checkoff for the 2017 tax year (HF242)
- Establish first-time home buyer savings accounts (SF426)
- Expand private-sector employee drug testing to include hair samples (SF32)
- Give schools more funding flexibility (HF564/HF565)
- Eliminate the child health care provision on the Iowa income tax return (SF495)
- Ban government entities from installing video/audio monitoring devices in public bathrooms (SF499)
- Shift the burden of proof/make other changes to civil asset forfeiture (SF446)
- Enhance criminal penalties for using GPS to stalk/harass (HF263)
- Give schools limited home rule authority like cities/counties (HF573)
- Adopt computer science education standards for schools (SF274)
- Expand the theft statute to include rental property (SF403)
- Set parameters for bass fishing tournaments in public waters (SF257)
- Protect utilities’ critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks (HF445)
- Require a job impact statement for administrative rules (SF1)
- Expand public disclosure of fatal/near-fatal child abuse cases (HF545)
- Ban mandated project labor agreements for public construction projects (SF438)
- Authorize DOT officers to issue traffic citations (HF463)
- Equalize how the counties pay for regionalized mental health services (SF504)
- Protect doctors who use alternative treatments to treat Lyme’s Disease (HF577)
- Strike future repeal of the property assessment appeal board (HF478)
- Allow ATV trails to cross highways (HF464)
- Allow drivers to make double turns against red lights (HF372)
- Enhance parental rights termination for safety/security concerns (SF275)
- Allow electrical work on farms without permit or inspection (SF357)
- Move school board elections from September to same November date of city elections (HF566)
- Allow use of straight wall cartridge rifles for deer hunting (HF475)
- Allow certified peace officers to carry a weapon on school grounds (HF517)
- Remove $6,000 limit on tuition grants (SF349)
- Repeal election campaign fund income tax checkoff effective Jan. 1, 2018 (HF242)
- Shield state/county fairs from damages for pathogen transmissions (SF362)
- Allow “right-to-try” medical treatments for terminally ill patients (SF404)
- Require licensing of genetic counselors (HF444)
- Make confidential peace officer’s personnel records (SF445)
- Allow city council members to serve as volunteer firefighters (HF264)
- Issue high school equivalency diploma based on demonstrated competence in core areas (HF473)
- Eliminate the Iowa emergency response commission (SF351)
- Increase health insurance premiums for legislators (SF230)
- Create a step therapy override (HF233)
- Require insurance companies to cover autism spectrum disorder treatment for minors (HF215)
- Change the rules for Iowans who file asbestos-related lawsuits (SF376)
- Provide landowner immunity for injury to a trespasser (SF260)
- Allow voluntary exclusion from entering an Iowa-licensed casino (SF442)
- Require vehicles involved in minor accidents to be removed from roadway (HF313)
- Extend maximum length for single trucks on highway to 41 feet (HF218)
- Classify Palmer amaranth “super weed” as a noxious weed (HF410)
- Change statute of repose for property improvements (SF413)
- Change simple misdemeanor trespassing fine to a scheduled violation (HF69)
- Allows two of five soil conservation commissions to reside in same township (HF469)
- Alter assessment of student progress on core indicators (SF240)
- Modify process for jury selection master lists (SF466)
- Enhance crime of sexual exploitation by a school employee (SF238)
- Declare child in need of assistance in drug-related situations (HF543)
- Restrict access to insurance proceeds for convicted felons (SF467)
- Increase funding for workforce housing incentives (SF488)
- Change state alcohol policies to reflect changing market conditions (HF607)
- Enact sentencing reforms dealing with mandatory minimum terms (HF579)
- Bar state restrictions for hunting on private property (SF258)
- Authorize primary road fund moneys for county/city transportation projects (HF203)
- Strengthen re-employment protections for Iowa National Guard soldiers (SF373)
- Allow the consolidation of election precincts (HF471)