- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad signed about 130 bills during and after the legislative session, including a number of measures that will take effect Friday, the start of the state’s fiscal year. Here are some new rules that have garnered attention:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

One law will make most juvenile delinquency records in Iowa confidential unless otherwise ordered by a judge. Records pertaining to certain juveniles facing allegations involving a felony will remain public.

Another law will allow certain nonviolent drug offenders in Iowa to be eligible for parole after they serve at least half of their mandatory minimum sentence. It is expected to reduce the disproportionate number of minorities in Iowa’s criminal justice system.

Branstad highlighted such reforms in his Condition of the State address in January.

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RENEWABLE CHEMICALS

A new program will allow companies to seek tax credits for producing renewable chemicals from farm crops and material left over after harvests. The Legislature previously considered the creation of such a program, but lawmakers reached agreement this year because it would fit into Iowa’s existing tax incentives program at no additional cost.

Language in the bill says the measure goes into effect immediately, but funding for the program will be available with the new budget year.

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TAX UPDATES

New sales tax exemption provisions are going into effect for Iowa companies that use certain supplies in the manufacturing process.

Companies and business groups have lobbied for years at the Capitol to add more clarifying language in regards to what equipment is exempt from the sales and use tax.

The Iowa Department of Revenue proposed new administrative rules last year after legislation failed to advance in the split Legislature. But Senate Democrats criticized any changes outside of the Legislature, and the issue was resolved through compromise on an unrelated bill.

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DRIVER’S LICENSE-DEBT

Iowa residents will have new options to help keep their driver’s license when they run into delinquent court debt. The law also adds different rules when enrolled in an installment repayment plan.

The Iowa Department of Transportation estimates about half of nearly 140,000 drivers’ licenses suspended or revoked last year were linked to court debt.

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HAIR BRAIDING

African-style hair braiding can be done without a cosmetology license, which requires 2,100 hours of training that is mostly unrelated to braiding.

The proposal in its final form would have required natural hair braiders to take one hour of safety and sanitation curriculum every year and be subject to inspections, but Branstad removed those stipulations in a veto.

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