116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
July 1 is an unofficial holiday in Iowa. It’s the date each year when new laws passed by the Legislature usually go into effect. A few days before we celebrate our national independence on July 4, we can reflect on Iowa’s democratic experiment.
Some of the high-profile bills approved this year were immediately enacted, while some set up new programs and rules that will take several months to come to fruition. Here, we have collected a few laws taking hold next month that you may not be aware of.
Gun permits - Perhaps the biggest immediate impact of the July 1 laws is the “constitutional carry” gun law.
Starting next week, Iowans will no longer be required to have a permit to purchase or carry a handgun. The impact of the law likely will not be as grave as some critics say, since buyers at gun stores still will undergo the same federal background check. Nevertheless, we are concerned with the potential for more unregulated private sales and the possibility of an increase in untrained people carrying weapons.
Alcohol sales - Lawmakers passed a couple bills making it easier for Iowans to get beer, wine and liquor.
One law will allow local distilleries and breweries to get a second license to open an additional retail location. Another law permits bars and restaurants to deliver cocktails through third-party delivery services such as UberEats and GrubHub, which became extremely useful during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Admittedly, access to booze is not the most pressing issue facing Iowans in 2021. Nevertheless, it’s a potential boon for small businesses and it’s a small example of state policymakers recognizing a pandemic-related shift in consumer habits and allowing it to become permanent.
Low-speed electric bikes - For the first time, the Legislature this year provided regulatory status to low-speed electric bikes, like the ones available through the VeoRide rental service in Cedar Rapids. While we’re wary of the state government mucking up the fledgling industry through burdensome regulations, it could be helpful to have some uniform rules.
The law lays out the differences between motorcycles, bicycles and low-speed electric bikes. Importantly, it specifies that low-speed electric bikes can be operated anywhere bicycles are allowed to operate, which already is the policy in Cedar Rapids.
Child care - Lawmakers this year passed a few laws aiming to expand the availability of child care. Iowa has a well documented child care shortage, which was exacerbated by the pandemic as
One law coming into effect next week allows some in-home providers to modestly increase the number of children served. Another provides a gradual phase-out of child care assistance, a response to the “cliff effect” whereby families come out worse when their compensation increases because they lose out on state benefits.
The House and Senate this session did not come to compromises on a few other child care bills. Reynolds last month created a task force on the issue, so we hope it gets more consideration at the Legislature next year.
Defrauding drug tests - Among a bevy of supposedly tough-on-crime bills considered by the Legislature, this one went largely unnoticed but stands to have a destructive criminal justice impact.
Iowa passed a law to provide criminal penalties for people who defraud drug and alcohol testing conducted by public or private employers. Obviously it’s a bad idea to falsify a urine test, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the state should invent a new crime for it. That issue is best dealt with privately between employers and employees.
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