Second Amendment, election integrity and workman’s comp top issues addressed

CAPITOL LETTERS

BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE GARY WORTHAN

District 11, R-Storm Lake

As I sit at my desk on the floor writing this newsletter we are in the second day of debate on the Election Integrity bill.  We began debating this issue midafternoon yesterday, were here until midnight last night and resumed debate at 8:30 this morning. This is the second major bill that we have debated on the floor this week, the first being the Second Amendment bill which was passed out Tuesday and our goal is to move two more, minimum wage preemption and worker’s comp reform, before we adjourn for the week.

We began the week debating the bill making modifications to the Iowa laws that pertain to the Second Amendment and our rights to keep and bear arms.  The bill makes several improvements to laws currently on the books. It is currently completely illegal for anyone under 14 years of age to handle a handgun.  The bill now would allow a person under 14 to learn handgun safety and handle and shoot a handgun under the supervision of a parent or instructor who is in the immediate proximity of the juvenile.  Training requirements for a permit to carry a concealed weapon remain the same but the permit will now be issued for five years and the permit will be standardized state wide, replacing the county by county permits. All information on concealed carry permit holders will be confidential and available only to law enforcement or through court ordered warrants. The bill implements provisions commonly known as “stand your ground”.  Current law states that anywhere outside of your home a person’s first duty is to retreat in the face of a threat.  Provisions of the current bill state that in any location in which you are legally present you may stand your ground if you believe the threat you face is minimized by defending yourself rather than retreating.  The bill also clarifies the fact that no city, township, or county holds the authority to limit the use or possession of firearms.

Election Integrity, the bill we are currently debating, is a bill that contains provisions that surveys show that 69% of Iowans support.  The bill will require a person to show just one of several forms of identity. These include an Iowa driver’s license, an Iowa DOT non-operators id, a military id, a veteran’s id, or a passport.  If a person has none of these forms, upon request to the county auditor’s office the commissioner of election will issue a voter id card that will be used at the polling place.  There are still provisions in the law that would allow a person to vote a provisional ballot if they have none of these.

The next item we will take up will be the preemption bill.  This bill will prohibit local government bodies from establishing a local minimum wage. The confusion and complexity created by a patchwork of dozens of varying minimum wage ordinances across the state will only serve to substantially increase the amount of time and effort required of employers to meet these laws.  Having a consistent minimum wage that is universal throughout the state will be an advantage to employers and employees alike.

The last big item that we may address this week is modifications to the code regarding worker’s compensation.  While worker’s compensation law has not changed in recent history the interpretation of the law by the previous administration has resulted in Iowa’s worker’s comp premium rates to increase substantially over the last several years. Prior to these changes Iowa’s worker’s comp premium rates were the second lowest in the nation, currently our premium rates are the 24th highest. The changes proposed will bring parity back to the system while having very little effect on those who have been injured on the job. This is another issue where the opposition has used hyperbole and fear mongering in an attempt to defeat these reforms.  With the passage of these reforms we will make Iowa employers more competitive with our neighbors which will allow them to expand and bring more good jobs to Iowa.

Please join me at my last legislative forum of this session tomorrow at 10 a.m. at King’s Pointe in Storm Lake.