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Funnel Week: Survivors and Casualties

Published: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 11:16 a.m. CST

With the first “funnel” week behind us, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look back and highlight which pieces of legislation advanced to the House floor and which ones “died” by not making it past the first major legislative hurdle. 

Here’s just a brief snapshot:

HF 384 – Sound Suppressors for firearms – This bill legalizes the purchase and use of sound suppressors for firearms in accordance with federal laws.  Currently Iowa is one of only 11 states where this is not allowed.

HF 2253 – Increased penalties for Kidnapping – This bill is in response to the Kathlynn Shepard case, by increasing penalties (class “C” felony) for those who kidnap or do other harm to a child under the age of 15. 

Additionally, a person who commits any of the crimes listed in the bill (such as; murder, some classes of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of a minor) will not earn credit for time served while in prison.

HF 2289 – Unmanned Arial Vehicles (aka “Drones”) – This bill provides strict guidelines for public agencies acquisition and use of drones. Under the bill, state agencies and law enforcement must have a warrant to collect and record any data, except in very limited situations.

Individuals are also prohibited from taking pictures of others or private property without permission.

HSB662 – ATVs on Highways – This bill provides expanded highway use of all-terrain vehicles.  The operator is required to have a valid driver’s license and a 35 mile-per-hour speed restriction applies. 

The bill revises the definition of all-terrain vehicle to include larger vehicles, but does NOT include dune buggies, golf carts, go-carts, or minitrucks.

Due to the “funnel” deadline arriving two weeks sooner than normal, I am disappointed to report that certain issues did not make it past their respective committees in time to be considered on the House floor.

For example, all of the substantive legislation dealing with Common Core was swept aside. 

Clearly defining government’s proper use of eminent domain, so that individual property rights are not abused, was also discarded. 

My heart is heavy for the many farm families who traveled to the Capitol this past week and pleaded with lawmakers to not allow the interests of out-of-state, multi-billion-dollar investors (i.e. Rock Island Clean Line) supersede their rights as property owners and family farmers.

I am sickened to think that one of my House colleagues (and his surrounding neighbors) are just weeks away from having their multi-generational farms condemned by the government, via eminent domain, so that special interest developers can turn it into a recreational facility, under the guise of “drinking water availability”.

I am also dismayed at the fact that after our Secretary of State, Matt Schultz, has investigated and documented the actual and potential abuses of voter fraud, the bill designed to enhance election integrity also died.  

Many dedicated legislators experienced this same frustration. 

Bills that we have been working very diligently on for our constituents and interests, met a similar fate.  It would appear that this year’s session was ruled by pragmatism and expediency, at the expense of common sense and reason.

However, all hope is not lost.  Just because the aforementioned legislation “died” by funnel, there are many of us who have vowed to not give up and continue the fight.  While these important issues have hit a major roadblock, there are still opportunities to resurrect them while the session moves forward. 

It should be interesting.  Stay tuned.

• • •

Please feel free to contact me with your issues or concerns as they arise.  You may do so either by phone at (515) 281-3221, e-mail at greg.heartsill@legis.iowa.gov, or when visiting the Capitol.

I appreciate and welcome your comments and feedback.  Also, if you would like to subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter, please send a quick note via email and I’ll put you on the list.

It is truly an honor to be your representative in the Iowa Legislature.

Until next time, God bless!

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