Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 30, 2014

Anti-bullying bill looks dead in Iowa Legislature

Apr 05, 2013

DES MOINES (AP) — An online bullying bill that was backed by Gov. Terry Branstad appears to be one of many that have died in the Iowa Legislature this week.

While major initiatives like health care, education policy and property tax reductions remain alive, a variety of other proposals are technically dead. Today is the procedural deadline — known as the “second Funnel” for many bills to get full approval from one chamber in the General Assembly and committee-level approval in the other chamber — and lawmakers have effectively concluded work for the week.

Branstad said Thursday he’s still hopeful there might be action on the cyberbullying bill during this session.

“I’ve heard legislators often declare things are dead and we’re still able to get it done,” Branstad said, noting that bills can be revived through a variety of maneuvers after the deadline. He said he didn’t know why the bill had stalled, though critics have suggested that conservative House members sought to squash it.

With Republicans controlling the House and Democrats the Senate, many of the hundreds of bills introduced this session didn’t find common ground. Among those were bills requiring schools to test for radon, mandating suicide prevention training for teachers, making the names of gun permit holders private and increasing the difficulty for government officials to seize land for the development of lakes.

Lawmakers from both parties complained Thursday that good ideas had been dismissed.

Democratic Senate President Pam Jochum, of Dubuque, said the chamber was disappointed not to see action in the House on issues like radon and suicide prevention. Other failed Senate bills would have toughened window safety standards and required state officials to disclose some gifts received.

“Most of those bills really were common sense, they were bipartisan in this chamber. They were really designed to make sure we were protecting our children,” Jochum said.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, said he was frustrated that the Senate didn’t take up a number of proposals, including one that would have made public information on gun permits confidential, as well as toughen penalties for “straw purchasers” — people who buy guns for those who aren’t allowed to have one, such as a convicted felon.

“I think one of the biggest common-sense measures the house passed was to do with gun laws in the state. That’s a common sense measure that keeps potentially bad people from getting guns,” Dix said.

Bills that don’t survive this deadline are eligible the following year and lawmakers occasionally find ways to revive a bill toward the end of the session.

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