Background Checks Among Laws Starting Monday

By Rod Boshart, Reporter

A view inside the House Chambers at the Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. (Steve Pope/Freelance)

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By Adam Carros

DES MOINES, Iowa - Here are some of the measures passed by the split-control Iowa General Assembly during the 2013 legislative session and signed by Gov. Terry Branstad that will take effect July 1:


REINVESTMENT DISTRICTS
THE LAW: Communities will be able to establish reinvestment districts to capture shares of state sales tax and local hotel/motel fees to help fund big-ticket attractions or projects.
WHAT IT DOES: The split-control Legislature achieved bipartisan support for cities and counties to designate special 25-acre development zones and use a share of sales tax and hotel-motel tax revenues to assist private projects of at least $10 million as a way to spur “big ideas.”

BACKGROUND CHECKS
THE LAW: All school employees must undergo a background check of the sex offender registry, child abuse registry, and the dependent adult abuse registry before being hired.
WHAT IT DOES: For current employees, the law change requires a school district to establish a policy which would require these employees to undergo the record check at least every five years after their date of hire. If a current employee is found to be on one of the registries, that would be grounds for suspension pending a termination hearing by the school board.

LIABILITY PROTECTION
THE LAW: Land owners will have expanded liability protections for farm tours.
WHAT IT DOES: The change is designed to abrogate an Iowa Supreme Court decision holding that farmers who offer educational tours are not shielded from personal injury lawsuits under Iowa’s recreational use law. The court ruled 5-2 last February that the owners of a dairy farm could be sued by a chaperon injured when she fell through a hole in a hayloft during a kindergarten class field trip.

OTHER LAWS OF NOTE
-Students attending a state university in Iowa will not see an increase in their in-state resident tuition for the next school year.
- Students attending private colleges and universities in Iowa will be eligible to receive up to $5,000 annually in Iowa tuition grants.
- Iowans possessing cellphones will pay an extra 35 cents a month surcharge for E-911 service, putting them on even keel with the $1 assessed monthly per land-based telephone line.
- Most Iowa drivers will be able to renew their Iowa licenses online as well as only do it every eight years rather than five.
- Employees operating ice cream trucks or other mobile businesses catering to kids and school employees will be subject to background checks.
- A new sex offender exclusion zone is created making it illegal for a sex offender to operate, manage, be employed by or act as a contractor or volunteer at a business that operates an ice cream truck.
- Prevention and control measures are implemented for aquatic invasive species and disbursement of plants or seeds of garlic mustard, oriental bittersweet, Japanese knotweed and Japanese hop is prohibited.
- Livestock producers will be allowed to “mothball” production facilities rather than tear them down if they downsize or temporarily suspend their operations and the change is approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

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