A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Monday:
MARSY’S LAW: Advocates for enshrinement of certain victims’ rights into the state constitution held a rally in the Iowa Capitol Rotunda. Proponents of what has become known as Marsy’s Law at the rally included survivors of crime, victim service providers, law enforcement officials and lawmakers. They are calling for legislators to approve HSB 525, which would start the process of a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution. Such a change requires passage by consecutive two-year general assemblies, followed by a public vote. Marsy’s Law has been passed in 13 states, according to a group that advocates for its passage.
“Victims should not be forgotten. We should not be left standing alone,” said Liz Ford, a Sioux City woman who said she was not notified of myriad changes to the conviction of the man who killed her husband in 2016. “We need our rights enforced. Marsy’s Law would do this.”
JUDICIAL NOMINATING: The governor would get an additional appointment to the public commissions that nominate Iowa judges for district-level posts under legislation that advanced in the Senate.
SF 2014 essentially makes the same change that the Republican-led Legislature in 2019 made to the commission that nominates judges for the Iowa Supreme Court. Opponents decried that proposal at the time, saying it gave the governor too large a role, thus injecting politics into what is supposed to be a nonpartisan process.
Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola, said he believes that change has been good, and thus the district court commissions should be composed the same as state court commissions.
The bill advanced out of subcommittee with only Republican support, and is now eligible for consideration by the full Senate Judiciary Committee.
TRAFFIC CAMERAS: Two bills dealing with traffic enforcement cameras received very different receptions while advancing in the Senate.
SF 2061 would prohibit the use of any traffic camera that is maintained, installed or serviced by an out-of-state company.
Sen. Adrian Dickey, R-Packwood, said the legislation seeks to prioritize Iowa-based companies that provide traffic cameras. Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, questioned whether such a law would be constitutional.
SF 2062 received a much warmer response from lawmakers and stakeholders. The bill would require any local government agency that institutes a traffic enforcement camera to provide safety data that shows why the camera is needed.
Both bills were approved and advanced to the Senate Transportation Committee.
VACCINATIONS: A bill to allow a registered nurse practicing under the order of a pharmacist to assist in administering vaccinations and immunizations without obtaining a registration from the Iowa Board of Pharmacy sailed through a Human Resources Committee.
“You know we’re going to pass this,” subcommittee Chairman Rob Bacon, R-Slater, said.
Subcommittee members Reps. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, and Anne Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, also supported HSB 544, which now goes to the full committee.
Forbes, a pharmacist, said the legislation grew out of the need for more help administering COVID-19 vaccinations. Meyer, a registered nurse, was confident RNs have the necessary training to give injections.
The Iowa Medical Society voiced a concern that the bill, as drafted, would allow nurses to administer not only vaccinations but also COVID-19 treatments without involvement of a physician. A pharmacist would have to prescribe the treatment, however, Forbes said.
Groups representing seniors, rural health clinics, nurses, residential group homes, hospitals and pharmacies were in support of the bill. Of about 110 groups registered on the bill, two-thirds were undecided.
CONVENTION OF STATES: Iowa conservatives will call for a convention of states at a rally in the Capitol Rotunda at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, talk show host Steve Deace and Iowa legislators will lead the call to “Take Back our Government.”
Among their issues is HJR 2002, a proposal for term limits for federal officeholders, a concept also proposed by Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful and former Iowa lawmaker Abby Finkenauer.
A convention of states is a convention called by state legislatures for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution. It is not a constitutional convention.
ETHANOL MANDATE: Gov. Kim Reynolds’ adjusted ethanol mandate was introduced. While HSB 594 is sweeping legislation with many parts, at its heart is the requirement that all Iowa fuel retailers sell the E-15 ethanol blend at half of their pumps.
The proposal allows for stations to request waivers if they are unable to fulfill the requirement due to infrastructure. The waivers would be considered by the state agriculture secretary.
Retailers that violate the policy would face suspension or revocation of their license.
The proposal is scheduled for its first legislative hearing Tuesday in the Iowa House.