- Associated Press - Sunday, March 5, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The legislative session is only a couple months old, but some bills have already been deemed dead for the year.

Because of a procedural deadline, bill that haven’t passed at least one committee by last week are done for the session. Others have survived the deadline and could still be approved by lawmakers.

Here’s a look at what’s considered alive and dead this session, though some failed proposals are occasionally resurrected through procedural moves.



The legislation would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a timespan based on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain at that stage. The bill would have some exemptions, including for pregnant women with medical emergencies. A new amendment to the bill would also allow a pregnancy between 20 and 24 weeks to be terminated if the fetus had a fatal condition. Opponents say the measure is unconstitutional.


The bill would make several changes to Iowa’s gun laws, though some initial proposals to allow guns on campus and lifetime firearm permits have been scrapped. A stand-your-ground provision would allow a person to use deadly force anywhere if he or she believes such force was necessary to avoid injury or risk to one’s life or safety. Other proposals would allow children under age 14 to use handguns with supervision from a parent and allow guns on the Capitol grounds.


Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s bill would require voters to show a state driver’s license, state ID, U.S. passport or military-related ID at the polls, and those without such documents would be mailed a special card that could be used. Some Democrats say the legislation, which proposes several changes to Iowa’s election system, would suppress voter turnout. Pate and Republican lawmakers say the measure is aimed at technological improvements to Iowa’s elections and voter integrity. There is little evidence of fraudulent voting in the state.


The legislation would make several changes to how workers seek compensation when injured on the job. It would cut off worker benefits at age 67, minimize late fees for employers and reduce benefits for injuries tied to a pre-existing condition. Critics say the measure, which was fast-tracked through procedural votes over two days, would overhaul the current system to burden workers and favor businesses. Republicans say some workers are now exploiting the system, leaving it unsustainable.


The bill would ban so-called sanctuary cities in Iowa by requiring counties, cities and public colleges to follow federal immigration law in cases involving possible deportation. No Iowa cities now identify as sanctuary cities. Academics say the measure may be redundant because of a misconception that communities with a sanctuary designation are breaking federal law, when many are trying to ensure people living in the country illegally know their judicial rights. Republicans say they’re trying to ensure that laws are enforced.



The bill would have declared that life begins at conception in Iowa, effectively outlawing abortion. People opposed to abortion rights had rallied for weeks around the legislation, which has not been passed in other states despite some attempts. Critics said it would have violated longtime U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Supporters noted that some lawmakers had expressed concerns about how the proposal would impact contraception and in vitro fertilization.


The legislation would have removed licensing requirements from several professions, including those for social workers, funeral directors and mental health counselors. The measure was backed by Gov. Terry Branstad, but it failed to gain traction amid swift criticism from multiple lobbying groups. Branstad had noted in an annual address to lawmakers this year that he was concerned about the state’s high rate of licensure requirements and its impact on workforce opportunities. But several groups spoke out about the proposal’s unintended impact on safety standards.


Lawmakers for several years have tried to create a comprehensive system for growing and distributing medical marijuana in Iowa, but this session the effort was shut down shortly after a bill was introduced. Although a key Republican lawmaker sponsored the legislation, it was not taken up for a committee vote. A separate bill that would extend Iowa’s current, limited cannabis oil program appears to have more of a shot, but critics say it’s not enough to appease families that have no legal way to acquire cannabis oil.


The bill would have restored the death penalty in Iowa for multiple offenses involving the kidnapping, rape and murder of a minor. The death penalty in Iowa was abolished in 1965, and life sentences are currently in place for the most serious crimes. A GOP lawmaker leading the bill said a scheduling conflict led to the legislation’s end, and he wouldn’t comment on whether the measure would have had enough support to become law.


The bill would have frozen faculty hiring at Iowa’s public universities until the number of professors registered as Republicans was within 10 percent of those registered as Democrats. A person with no party affiliation would not be counted. Democrats criticized the bill, which was introduced by a lone GOP lawmaker, over its unintended impact on employee hiring. The Republican lawmaker defended the measure, which received national attention but failed to get assigned to a subcommittee.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide