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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 22, 2018

New state laws impact drunken driving, opioid addiction, school safety

By Erin Murphy, Lee Des Moines Bureau | Jul 02, 2018

DES MOINES — Dozens of new laws go on Iowa’s books Sunday, but most Iowans will not immediately feel the impact of some of the most high-profile changes.

A new ban on abortions is tied up in the courts. Tax cuts will not be felt until the 2019 tax season. New funding for water quality projects will take time to accumulate and be dispersed.

But while they may not have stolen all the headlines during the 2018 legislative session, there are many new laws that will have a direct and immediate impact on Iowans.

 

Drunken driving

Two new laws will impact drunken driving that advocates for stronger laws say will have opposing effects.

One new law requires all first-time drunken driving offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle as a condition of receiving a temporary restricted license. The device requires the driver to blow into it, and if alcohol registers, the vehicle will not start. The new law was hailed as a positive step toward reducing repeat drunken driving offenders.

Another new law limits lawsuits against businesses that serve alcohol to individuals who later are found to be driving drunk. Proponents said the limits help businesses afford insurance, while opponents said they will weaken law enforcement’s ability to crack down on drunken driving.

 

 

Public official promotion

Iowans should start seeing fewer elected officials’ faces on official government literature after a new law was designed to crack down on the use of taxpayer funds for self-promotion.

The law prohibits statewide elected officials or state legislators from using state funds to promote themselves by projecting their name, image or voice as part of an advertisement or promotion.

State treasurer Michael Fitzgerald told The Associated Press he believes the law was politically motivated and directed at him; for years he has appeared in television advertisements promoting a state-sponsored college savings program.

But other state agencies and departments could also be forced to adjust to the new law, which will be enforced by the state ethics and campaign disclosure board. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ image, for example, appears on state maps and many officials place their images on state fair booths.

 

Opioid addiction

Starting Sunday, anyone who prescribes medication will be required to check a state database before prescribing opioid painkillers. The law is designed to curtail doctor-shopping, in which an individual addicted to opioids acquires painkillers from multiple prescribers.

As part of the same effort, pharmacies must also report prescriptions to the state database within 24 hours, and the state licensing board may penalize providers who over-prescribe.

And a so-called “Good Samaritan” law goes on the books. Any individual who reports a drug-related emergency to first responders or authorities is provided temporary immunity from criminal liability.

 

Sanctuary cities

Cities are required to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officials, and failure to do so could result in a loss of state funding.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said recently she does not believe any Iowa cities currently have policies that would put them in non-compliance with the new state law. She added she believes, in the name of public safety, it is fair to expect local law enforcement officials to cooperate with federal officials.

Opponents said the law was politically motivated, and local law enforcement officials said it could hurt their efforts by creating distrust in their communities.

 

School shooter training

Many new laws go into effect Sunday will impact the state’s public schools.

One requires both public and private school districts to have in place by June 30, 2019, security plans for an active school shooter and natural disasters.

 

School lunch shaming

Schools are barred from punishing or shaming any student who owes money for school meals. Incidents of school lunch shaming have been reported in other states; Iowa lawmakers this year were proactive in banning the practice.

 

Suicide prevention

Annual training in suicide prevention is required for all licensed schools employees.

The suicide rate for teens is up more than 70 percent between 2006 and 2016, according to federal data.

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