Iowa Legislature

The Iowa General Assembly is shown in Des Moines in 2014.

Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press file

DES MOINES | Numerous new laws approved by the Iowa General Assembly last session kick in Tuesday. 

Medical marijuana

l THE LAW: Iowa parents with children who have severe epilepsy will be able to access cannabis oil as a treatment option.

l WHAT IT DOES: The law legalizes the possession and medical use under certain conditions of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana that backers say possesses a wide range of therapeutic benefits. Patients or their caregivers are required to obtain a state-issued registration card to possess the drug and to have a neurologist’s recommendation to obtain the license.

Infectious diseases

l THE LAW: Amends a 1998 statute to lessen the penalties for people who unknowingly expose someone to HIV or other infectious diseases.

l WHAT IT DOES: The modified law imposes a 25-year prison sentences only when someone intends to transmit a disease without a partner's knowledge. It establishes a tiered penalty system that takes into account whether a person took precautions, whether transmission of HIV actually occurred and whether or not the person intended to transmit HIV. The revised law also adds other infectious diseases to the bill such as hepatitis, tuberculosis and meningococcal disease, which causes meningitis — so the law is no longer HIV-specific.

E-cigarettes

l THE LAW: The sale or possession of electronic cigarettes and alternative nicotine products is banned in Iowa for minors under the age of 18.

l WHAT IT DOES: The law applies to the battery-operated products that heat liquid nicotine and produce a vapor users can inhale -- including the sale of fruit-flavored, nicotine-free e-cigarettes to children. The new law also requires that any person offering these products for sale to consumers hold a valid tobacco permit. Backers say it goes beyond recent Food and Drug Administration guidelines with an enforceable state law, but it does not curtail the marketing, promotion and widespread sale of what some view as potentially harmful products or give local governments authority to enact stricter regulations than the state law.

DNA samples

l THE LAW: Lawbreakers convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor will have to submit a DNA sample to authorities.

l WHAT IT DOES: Currently, offenders convicted of felonies are required to provide a DNA sample to be entered into the national databank. Law enforcement officials wanted the changes – passed in 2013 for implementation July 1, 2014 -- to enhance public safety given that some offenders who commit serious crimes may get lesser sentences through plea bargains. Civil libertarian and social justice advocates opposed the changes as government intrusion into Iowans’ personal lives and unnecessary additions to the criminal code.

Veterans’ incentives

l THE LAW: The Home Base Iowa initiative is designed to encourage military veterans to return or move to Iowa.

l WHAT IT DOES: The multi-pronged action plan exempts military pensions from state income tax; directs Iowa’s occupational licensing boards to adopt rules allowing credit for military training and experience in the licensing process; allows private-sector employers to grant a preference in hiring and promoting veterans; eliminates the special plate issuance fees charged for plates associated with military service; and requires community colleges and universities to file reports on the amount of credits they are giving veterans for their service in the military.

Regulating drones

l THE LAW: Parameters are created for unmanned aerial vehicles

l WHAT IT DOES: The law prohibits state or local law enforcement authorities from using unmanned aerial vehicles for traffic enforcement. The bill also states that evidence obtained by law enforcement using an unmanned aerial vehicle is not admissible in a criminal or civil trial unless it was obtained legally pursuant to a search warrant or in a manner that is consistent with state and federal law. A provision state officials to examine whether the Iowa criminal code should be modified to regulate misuse of unmanned aerial vehicles and report findings to the Legislature by Dec. 31.

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