Public safety bills to help protect students, motorists and senior citizens

CAPITOL LETTERS

BY STATE REPRESENTATIVE GARY WORTHAN

District 11, R-Storm Lake

Chairman of the Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee

Public Safety is frequently one of the top things that Iowans identify as something the Legislature needs to address. We have taken this topic seriously, passing many bills this session that will keep students, motorists and senior citizens safe across our state.

Whether it’s through policy or in the budget, we will continue to make public safety a priority and ensure that Iowans are protected.

One of the biggest priorities this session was extending the school infrastructure tax, known as SAVE. This provides schools with significant resources to make building improvements and ensure safe, modern classrooms. The House included a provision in the bill that prioritizes upgrades like secure entrances, security cameras, and other safety enhancements, before using SAVE funds on athletic facilities.

We also passed legislation that protects students from known predators who move from school to school. House File 637 is an important school safety bill that requires administrators to report employee misconduct in a timely way.

In recent years, the number of assaults and rapes on college campuses in Iowa is increasing. Additionally, a climate survey of students at the University of Iowa showed that more than one in five female undergraduates say they were raped during their time at UI. This is a serious problem that requires serious solutions.

Just this week the House passed a bipartisan bill that provides students with more tools to protect themselves on campus. The legislation prevents Iowa’s public universities and community colleges from implementing a policy that bans the carrying of a stun gun for personal protection. In a situation where seconds matter but law enforcement is minutes away, the use of this device could be the difference between life or death.

Another bill passed this session, Senate File 113, holds repeat drunk drivers accountable and keeps them off the roads to make our highways safer. This bill clarifies that a person convicted with three or more OWIs can be charged as a habitual offender and face stiffer penalties. Drunk driving is not only irresponsible, but it puts those who wish to travel safely on our roads and highways at risk.

This year’s legislation builds on successful efforts from previous years to crack down on drunk and distracted driving and hold individuals accountable for their actions.

The House passed several pieces of legislation this session to protect seniors and other vulnerable Iowans in a number of ways. House File 731 updates Iowa’s mandatory reporter law to better protect dependent adults from abuse through more frequent and streamlined training. House File 323 ensures a person can be found guilty of dependent adult abuse even if they didn’t personally profit from the abuse. Finally, House File 569 ensures that an individual who intentionally shames, degrades, humiliates, or harms the personal dignity of a dependent adult is held accountable.

All of these bills will go a long way to ensure seniors and vulnerable Iowans are protected and not taken advantage of.

Countless Iowans have read and seen the heartbreaking stories in the news about mistreatment of pets and animals across the state. The House passed legislation earlier this session that protects pets and ensures that abusers are held accountable for their actions with stronger penalties for torture, neglect, and abuse.

Oftentimes, people that hurt or torture animals go on to hurt other people. This legislation provides the opportunity to intervene with an individual who may do something worse down the road.

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