A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Tuesday, March 6, 2018:
BODY CAMERA STUDY: A disparate group of interest groups told a House Judiciary subcommittee March 6 that they want to be a part of a study of law enforcement use of body cameras.
The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, worried the panel could become unwieldy and have a hard time to reach a consensus.
The intent of House File 2465 is to bring together a group “to try to put together some rules that everybody is comfortable with,” subcommittee member Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, said. “LOL. That’s going to be difficult.”
911 BILL STALLS: Legislation that would limit the public’s access to many 911 calls ran into trouble Tuesday during a Senate State Government subcommittee meeting.
The House-passed bill from last session, House File 571, drew concerns from interested groups and senators alike over its far-reaching implications for accessing records.
Daniel Zeno of the ACLU of Iowa said his group opposed the measure — that would declare that audio, video and transcripts of 911 calls involving injured people are confidential medical records and exempt from Iowa’s open records law — because it would take away an important tool to hold law officers accountable for their handling of emergency situations.
If enacted, the initial response by authorities to shootings or other incidents could be subject to less public scrutiny, he said. Also, it would make calls involving minors automatically confidential.
Senators and others wondered if personal medical information that was part of an emergency call also would be withheld.
Sen. Dan Dawson, a Council Bluffs Republican who chaired the subcommittee, said the bill had several unresolved issues and faces an uncertain future after it stalled Tuesday.
The bill would have to clear the Senate State Government Committee by March 16 to remain eligible for consideration this session.
MENTAL HEALTH BILL ADVANCES: A Senate subcommittee voted 5-0 Tuesday to advance legislation that will expand and improve Iowans’ mental health and substance abuse disorder services.
House File 2456 has a broad scope, dealing with commitments, licensing of subacute mental health facilities, disclosure of mental health issues to law enforcement, video conferencing of hospitalization hearings, transportation service contracts, mental health and disability services quarterly reports, regional core services, reduction of fund balances from mental health regions, commitment process report and a tertiary care psychiatric hospitals report.
Backers say it will build on Iowa’s community-based mental health system and decrease fragmentation of services to improve care. The bill now is eligible for consideration by the full Senate Human Resources Committee.
COMBATING “SPOOFING” CALLS: The Iowa Senate voted 50-0 Tuesday to give the Iowa Attorney General’s Office a new tool to protect Iowans who are victims of “spoofing” scams where someone uses a local phone number that is not theirs to get Iowans to answer their phones.
Senate File 2243 creates a criminal offense for violating a prohibition for the false or misleading use of caller identification information to contact any person who has an Iowa area code and is physically located in the state. If the bill is passed by the Iowa House and signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, the fine would be $40,000 per call.
“We all receive the calls where it looks like a local number just to find out that it’s a telemarketer or some other unwanted call,” said Sen. Dennis Guth, R-Klemme, the bill’s floor manager. “Let’s try and put a stop to these calls here in Iowa.”
Currently, the federal Truth in Caller ID Act prohibits such misrepresentations, but the practice is widespread.
PROBE MAY LEAD TO AWARD: The Iowa Lottery is a finalist for an international gaming-compliance award for its work in the long-running Hot Lotto jackpot investigation that uncovered fraud against U.S. lotteries and resulted in guilty pleas from three men.
The Iowa Lottery is one of five finalists for the 2018 award to be presented April 18 in London for outstanding achievement in compliance from the GamblingCompliance, an organization which provides independent legal, regulatory and business assistance to the gambling industry.
Iowa’s jackpot probe culminated in 2017 with guilty pleas from three men who admitted they illegally claimed prizes by rigging lottery drawings in five states — Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin and an attempt to claim a lottery jackpot in Iowa, which ultimately was not paid.
CHILDREN’S ART SHOW: Art through the eyes of Iowa children will go on display at the State Historical Museum of Iowa on Saturday — just in time for Youth Art Month.
The “Building Community Through Art” exhibit is organized by the Iowa Arts Council and Art Educators of Iowa and showcases artwork from K-12 students. The artwork on display was chosen from nearly 500 entries submitted by art teachers from across the state.
The exhibit will continue through March 24. Visiting hours at the museum, 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines, are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This is a new form of gambling in sheep’s clothing.” — Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mount Pleasant, objecting to a bill that would allow Dave and Buster’s to give prizes worth up to $950 for patrons playing games of skill.