Governor signs bill requiring Iowa school safety plans

Another new law expands use of ignition interlock devices

(File photo) The dome of the Iowa State Capitol building from the rotunda in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Suspe
(File photo) The dome of the Iowa State Capitol building from the rotunda in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Suspended across the dome is the emblem of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). The emblem, painted on canvas and suspended on wire, was placed there as a reminder of Iowa's efforts to preserve the Union during the Civil War. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds signed two bills into law Wednesday designed to improve safety in Iowa schools and on Iowa roadways.

The governor signed Senate File 2364, a bill that requires public and non-public schools to develop — and practice — confidential, high-quality safety and emergency plans for each classroom building no later than June 30, 2019.

The plans — to be developed in conjunction with law enforcement and emergency management officials — must include responses to active-shooter situations as well as natural disasters.

It requires all school personnel to conduct at least one emergency drill in each building. The drills could include students.

According to the Iowa Department of Education, 88 percent of Iowa school districts report having security plans, but less than 10 percent are high-quality plans with "walk-through" drills for school staff.

Reynolds has convened her own working group of state department heads to review school safety.

During debate on the bill, lawmakers said that there have been 13 "copycat" threats in Iowa since the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 dead.


Also Wednesday, the governor signed House File 2338, a bill that requires all first-time convicted drunken driving offenders to have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle as a condition of receiving a temporary restricted license.

House File 2338 would expand the issuance of temporary restricted licenses with an approved ignition interlock device for people charged with an operating while intoxicated with a blood alcohol content between 0.08 and 0.1 percent.

Ignition interlocks require drivers to blow into the device before their vehicle will start.

“Iowa now joins 31 other states and Washington, D.C., in recognizing that ignition interlock technology is needed — after the first offense — to stop the horrendous tragedies caused by the leading killer on our roads,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“Time and again, we help grieving victims who have lost a loved one in a crash caused by a repeat drunk driving offender,” she added. “There’s no excuse for this, and we know that the only way to stop someone intent on driving drunk is to literally block their vehicle from starting.”

MADD reported that ignition interlocks stopped 354,372 drunken driving attempts nationwide in 2017 and nearly 2.69 million over the past 11 years.

The group also pointed to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicating all-offender interlock laws reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent. A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found interlocks reduce the number of impaired drivers in fatal crashes by 16 percent.

Current Iowa law does not require first-time offenders to install ignition interlocks if their blood-alcohol concentration was between 0.08 and 0.10 percent when they were arrested and weren’t involved in an accident.

After a conviction, officials with the state Department of Transportation may revoke a license if the driver is not already under revocation for the offense.

According to the Legislative Services Agency, DOT officials issued 15,686 OWI revocations in fiscal 2017 and issued 4,444 temporary restricted licenses for OWI offenses that fiscal year.

l Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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