2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Bill criminalizing female genital mutilation goes to Iowa governor

(File photo) The Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, photographed on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
(File photo) The Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, photographed on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — The Iowa House passed and sent to the governor legislation criminalizing female genital mutilation.

The topic, Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, told representatives “frankly, is not pleasant.”

Female genital mutilation — the cutting of a female’s clitoris as practiced in Africa and parts of the Middle East and Asia as well as in the United States — is, in essence, Hinson said, “a sexual assault on a young girl’s private parts that scars her for life both literally and figuratively.”

Senate File 346 would make it a Class D felony to carry out the process on a minor on cases when it is not medically necessary. It also makes it a crime to transport a minor to or from Iowa to have the procedure done.

Iowa is one of 22 states without a law that addresses female genital mutilation.

Before being approved 95-4, SF 346 was amended to direct the Crime Victims Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office, working with community insiders and culturally specific victims’ services programs, to develop an education campaign to increase awareness regarding the health risks of female genital mutilation and the criminal penalty.

The House also unanimously approved a trio of bills dealing with credit unions — SF 506, SF 403 and House File 358 — that also will go to the governor.

Representatives also voted 99-0 to approve SF 341 to conform the Iowa definition of service animals to the federal definition. Current Iowa definition only covers dogs, while the federal definition also includes miniature horses.

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Under the legislation, landlords must waive lease restrictions and additional payments usually charged for pets. If they don’t, landlords could be guilty of a simple misdemeanor. Tenants would be liable for any damage the animal does.

SF 341 also requires tenants to verify they have a disability and that the service animal is needed for that disability.

If a person intentionally misrepresents a service animal or a service animal in training, they could be guilty of a simple misdemeanor.

The bill, approved 49-0 in the Senate, now goes to the governor.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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