DES MOINES, Iowa – Here are some of the new laws slated to take effect July 1 that could impact Iowans:
Driver’s license renewals: Eligible Iowans aged 18 to 65 who have a driver’s license in good standing will be able to renew their licenses online every other time. That means most eligible Iowans would have to appear in person at a DOT license station or participating county treasurer’s issuance location every 10 years.
Infused Drinks: Bars and restaurants will be allowed to have mixed drinks or cocktails mixed on the premises that are not for immediate consumption. The so-called “infused” drinks can be stored for a maximum of 72 hours in a labeled container in a quantity that does not exceed three gallons. The addition of caffeine, hallucinogenic substances or other added stimulants is prohibited.
Gas pump stability: Motorists who prefer ethanol-blended fuels will continue to receive a price break of up to two cents per gallon at Iowa pumps with the extension of a special gas tax exemption for one more year. Lawmakers also failed to reach agreement on a plan to raise the state’s gas tax by 8 to 10 cents a gallon phased in over two years.
Hunting fees: Fees were established for new three-year options for state-issued fishing and hunting licenses. Other changes include a $10 annual third line fishing permit option and a new one-day, one location non-resident fur dealer license.
Snowmobile fee: At the request of the Iowa Snowmobile Association, the Legislature established an annual $15 snowmobile trail pass permit for anyone who uses public land or designated snowmobile trails as a way to help upgrade trails around Iowa.
School bus violations: Scofflaws who illegally pass school buses that have their warning lights flashing and/or arms extended will face stiffer penalties. The legislation was dubbed Kadyn’s Law after 7-year-old Kadyn Halverson, who was struck and killed by a vehicle when she was making her way to a school bus last year.
Driver background checks: Applicants for school bus driver positions will be required to undergo background checks. Employing school districts will be required to review the state sex offender registry, the state central registry for child abuse information, and the state central registry for dependent adult abuse information for information regarding any applicant for a school bus driver position before an applicant is hired. The same procedure would be followed every five years with contract or driver’s license renewals.
Driver control: Lawmakers changed the wording of a state law to clarify that a driver is required to have the vehicle being operated under control at all times, rather than just when approaching certain driving situations. Also, penalties are people increased for circumstances if a driver fails to slow down or move their vehicle into another lane when approaching a stationary vehicle displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, red, or red and blue lights.
Cell-phone fee: Purchasers of pre-paid cell phones or a pre-paid cell card for cell phones will have to pay a new 33-cent monthly fee to help fund emergency 911 services.
Public inquiries: Citizens having problems getting a public document or getting into a governmental meeting will have a new Public Information Board to petition with any complaints about violations of Iowa’s open meetings and open records laws.
Suicide prevention hotline: Young people and other Iowans may soon have access to a suicide prevention hotline. The state will allocate $50,000 to request bids for a hotline that would include assistance to stop bullying via the Internet and texting. The proposal stems from a recent publicized suicide of Kenneth James Weishuhn Jr., 14, of Primghar, who was bullied after acknowledging he was gay.
Scrap metal: Scrap metal dealers are required to keep a confidential log containing identifiable information on persons that they purchase scrap metal from. The information must be kept for two years and be accessible to law enforcement. Employees that don’t maintain the required information will be assessed a civil fine.
Educator misconduct: School boards and school administrators will be required to report to the state Board of Educational Examiners any instance of disciplinary action taken against a licensed school employee. Conduct covered by the requirement includes soliciting, encouraging or consummating a romantic relationship with a student; falsifying student grades; or converting public property or funds to the personal use of the school employee.