While some things remain with the passing of each year, others things change; sometimes a small amount and oftentimes quite a bit. While visiting with three separate professionals recently, it has come to light that there are some topics that are not quite the same as they were in 2017. Here is a hint: law enforcement, insurance and a few other random new topics.
A recent telephone conversation with Wayne County Sheriff Keith Davis, informed he is aware there have been changes made to Iowa’s firearms laws. This caused a closer look at what those changes mean to area firearm owners and users. Whether the new laws are positive or negative from a law enforcement view still remain to be seen. Davis admitted he wished there was a little more input sought from local law enforcements than has been in the past, when new laws are enacted.
An overview of new things to be aware include striking down the prohibition on short barrel rifles and shot guns, makes it a serious misdemeanor to carry a dangerous weapon while under the influence and requiring safety training when a new permit to carry a concealed weapon is issued. Another new law allows private investigators and security officers, who are licensed and have a permit to carry license, to be on school property while they are engaged in the performance of their duties. Other new changes eliminate the minimum age for persons to possess hand guns while they are under the supervision of a parent or guardian. Changes on concealed weapons permits state the permits are valid for five-year time frames, all personal identification will be removed from the permits themselves, which will no longer be issued from the sheriff’s office but will be mailed from the state, and governors and powers can no longer revoke firearms rights in a state of emergency. Also, pistols and revolvers can now be carried at the Capitol building and grounds as long as the valid carrier is compliant with all requirements and the devices must remain concealed. Target practice in unincorporated areas can no longer be a reason for someone to file a lawsuit concerning excessive noise. Cities and political subdivisions can no longer restrict firearm possession and allows the carrier to file a suit if they are adversely affected by a political ordinance. All-terrain vehicle operators are now allowed to carry a pistol or revolver without the use of a retention holster. Persons who feel they are in a life-threatening situation are now able to use reasonable and deadly force without first retreating. While all of these changes may sound alarming to some, it may give some comfort to know that it is now a Class D felony for fraudulent firearm purchases. These new changes to Iowa law posted here is only an overview and no one should use these words to replace actual state laws.
Another area of changes can be found in health care and new laws regarding the Affordable Care Act. While not everyone has signed up for the government sponsored health insurance, laws affecting the ACA have a way of filtering into other insurance arenas. According to Allysa O’Donnell, Benefits Consultant for Supplemental Insurance Professionals (Des Moines), the United States Congress has passed, and the President is expected to sign, tax reform legislation that includes a number of provisions impacting employee benefits. The legislation is titled “An Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal year 2018”, which is quite a mouthful. So, for short, it’s noted as the “Tax Cuts and Job Acts”. There are numerous changes from Employer Tax Credits for Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), elimination of certain employer deductions for qualified transportation plans, employer meals and entertainment deduction changes, etc. However, one of the items that will remain in effect for 2018 is the individual insurance mandate, also known as the individual shared responsibility provision enacted under the Affordable Care Act. This is the law that requires everyone to have health insurance. The individual insurance mandates started in 2014. Taxpayers were required to maintain minimum essential coverage for each month, qualify for a coverage exemption, or pay a penalty when filing tax returns. Effective in 2019, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will basically reduce to zero the penalty associated with the individual mandate. In the spring of 2017, Iowa was one of just a few states facing the most uncertain market conditions for 2018. This year Medica is the only health insurer offering plans throughout the state for individuals. According to Supplemental Insurance Professionals (SIP), insurance, benefits and consulting firm in Des Moines, people have been calling since last march with the fear of rate increases. SIP continues to tell their clients that ACA’s premium subsidies will still be in effect for 2018. The subsidies grow to keep pace with average premiums in each area. Since Medica will be the only insurer offering plans thought the state, there won’t be as much variation from the average premium as there would be if multiple insurers were offering coverage. Meaning, subsidies in Iowa will grow significantly in 2018, offsetting much of the rate hikes that people would otherwise experience. Premium subsidies are only available in the exchange, and the majority of people who aren’t receiving premium subsidies have purchased coverage outside the exchange. SIP explains the individual insurance situation is still less than ideal for Iowans, it could be much worse in comparison to other states. Additionally, even those Iowans who receive insurance benefits from their employer are suffering from the same nationwide trend of higher premiums and higher deductibles. SIP noted that if you have questions, be sure to visit with one of the local insurance representatives, as there are several valuable agents within a 50-mile radius of Wayne County.
According to state senator, Amy Sinclair, there are a few other new laws that have recently become effective, which concern federal restrictions that have recently been changed to allow states to use the money allocated for primary roads to be used for other roadways; Wayne County should see a 20 percent increase in cost savings, which will lead to more road and bridge projects on county roads. While in conversation with Sinclair another change in law concerns using internet devices while driving. Even though the penalty for disobeying the new law still remains at $30, plus court costs, effective the first day of January, it became the new diction that it is no longer just driving and texting which is illegal. The new law includes, as well as the texting, sending emails, internet browsing and playing games while driving is prohibited. You can however; still make and answer phone calls as well as use your device for GPS purposes.
Senator Sinclair also clarified the law concerning leaving vehicles running while unattended. She was asked if it truly was the law, due to recent television reports of vehicles being stolen while people were allowing their vehicles to warm up while in driveways or at convenience stores. Sinclair cited “HF 312-Leaving a Vehicle Unattended While The Engine Is Running” file. HF 312 removes an outdated law which prohibits a person from leaving their vehicle unattended while the engine is running. This law was first put on the books in 1913. With the advent of automatic starters and with vehicles becoming safer, this law is no longer necessary.
The final bill Sinclair was asked about may be of interest to some, few or many, depending on how you view it. “House File 524—Medical Cannabis”. Senate final passage: 33-7, House final passage: 83-11, signed—May12, 2017, effective date May12, 2017. The bill establishes a statewide growing and dispensary system for medical cannabis, including an expanded list of ailments for which medical cannabis can be recommended by a licensed physician.
While random and varied, the new laws listed in this article are to be used for informational and discussion purposes only. Not every new law will affect every citizen—it is of interest to each person, to see where our state and federal political entities put priorities. Whether good or ill, 2018 has ushered in a host of new laws for each American, and a few that are of particular interest to the residents of southern Iowa.