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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 23, 2017

Iowa nixes ‘outdated’ unattended vehicle bill

By Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau | Mar 09, 2017

DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad has been given a chance to move a long-standing provision of the Iowa Code into the 21st Century.

Members of the Iowa Senate voted 49-0 Wednesday to send the six-term GOP governor a House-passed bill to strike a 103-year-old law that currently makes it illegal to leave a vehicle unattended with its engine running while parked on the street or public property.

Iowa law prohibits a person from permitting a vehicle to stand unattended without first stopping the engine or without effectively setting the brake and turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway when the vehicle is on “any perceptible grade.” The statute, which carries a $20 fine upon conviction of a violation, does not apply to vehicles parked on private property.

“If you have an automatic starter on your car, you violate the law every time you press the starter button,” said Sen. Thomas Greene, R-Burlington, floor manager of House File 312. “This is a simple bill. It just gets an outdated law off the books.”

Also Wednesday, senators voted 49-0 to create a civil protective order that courts can issue for victims of sexual abuse, incest and exploitation of a minor. Under current law, a victim may apply for a criminal no-contact order after the defendant has been arrested for sexual abuse or upon the convicted offender’s release from jail or prison.

A sexual abuse civil protective order would be available through the court on an emergency, temporary or permanent basis. The order could be obtained before a defendant has been arrested and also could cover members of a victim’s family with the same protections as currently afforded by a domestic abuse court order.

“This is a bill a long time coming,” said Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, the bill’s floor manager. “This is not creating a new system. It simply extends the system that currently is built around domestic abuse to those victims of sexual abuse, incest and exploitation of a minor.”

Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said the Senate previously has passed similar protections but past efforts have stalled in the House without making it to the governor’s desk.

“It’s really hard to believe in our state that a victim of rape cannot get a civil protective order against his or her rapist or sexual abuser if they were not in a prior intimate relationship. But that’s the case until this bill goes into effect,” said Petersen. “These victims need some sense of protection.”

Other actions

In other action Wednesday, senators voted 48-1 to give fairs in Iowa liability protection from damages sought by anyone who alleges an injury or death caused by a pathogen transmitted from an event where an animal is kept for more than three hours.

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, registered the lone no vote.

Senate File 362, which now goes to the Iowa House for consideration, requires appropriate warning signs to be posted and other precautions to remain in effect. Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, said the “common-sense” legislation expands upon protections already in place to deal with situations where a spectator may get stepped on or kicked by show animals.

Senators also voted 39-10 to approve Senate File 240, which requires the Iowa Department of Education to issue a new request for proposals no later than April 30 for the selection of a statewide assessment to measure student growth and student achievement toward the Iowa core academic standards. The selected assessment will be available for grades three through eight and one high school-level grade, and must cover English language arts, math and science, which must be implemented by the department before the 2018-2019 school year.

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