With a major winter storm bearing down on Iowa, lawmakers are anxious to finish up for the week and head home. For some, it is tempting to skip their final meetings of the week, and hit the road. This is understandable because of family and business concerns, but we are hired by the people to do a job. Add to that the fact that next week is the first funnel, which means a bill must be reported out of a committee in order to remain alive. We have a lot of work to do in the next ten days, and sometimes mother nature does not cooperate, but I am confident we will accomplish our goals in a timely manner. Let’s all stay safe out there this weekend.
An issue which has been around for several years has re-surfaced, and seems to be gaining some momentum, not only here at the Statehouse, but also with the general public. Some polling data being released by several sources shows a huge majority of Iowans want the Legislature to do something to curb texting while driving. Right now texting while driving is prohibited, but it is difficult for law officers to enforce the law because the offense is not a primary offense. That means a driver who is texting only gets a ticket if they are pulled over for some other reason such as speeding.
A bill moving through the Senate would make texting while driving a primary offense, and an officer could issue a citation for that, even if there is no other violation. It would appear by the polling numbers that most Iowans agree. I am sure a lot of drivers have experienced a “close call” on the road by someone using a hand-held device. Legislators spend a lot of time on the road, and I can say from experience that this is a problem and a danger. Every year it seems that I have more and more “close calls”. The Governor seems to be in favor of the legislation, but would prefer to go a little further — namely, banning the use of all hand-held devices while driving. We will see how this moves through the Legislature, and I will support anything that helps make our roads safer, thus protecting our citizens.
A bill designed to change gun laws has been introduced in the House, and it covers a lot of areas. I just saw the legislation for the first time this week, so have not had a chance to really study it yet. I do know that it is very detailed and complicated. I am a bit uncomfortable commenting on it right now, as I know it will change. My point in bringing this up is to make people aware that there is legislation pending, and it is working its way through the House as this is being written.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate first released his proposal for a voter integrity bill at the beginning of the legislative session. Secretary Pate’s proposal was turned into HSB 93, and will be considered by the State Government Committees in both the House and the Senate before the end of next week. This proposed bill strengthens the integrity of Iowa’s election system, encourages the use of new voting technology, provides a system of checks and balances to ensue voter identity fraud is not occurring, and aligns some of Iowa’s voting regulations with many of our Midwestern neighbors, all without suppressing or infringing voter rights.
Bicyclists from around the state met at the Capitol Wednesday to show their support for a bill that would require motorists to move over one full lane when passing a bike. However, they had concerns about one provision in the bill that requires bikes to have high-powered lights on both the front and back. This issue has been around for several years and Iowans want us to get something done this year. I agree, and I am sure the bill will change as it moves through the process. I have heard from a lot of bike riders from my area, and I appreciate the input.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home on weekends at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. My home address is P. O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at [email protected].