Paying fines via text, concealed guns in the capitol, deer harvest statistics: Iowa Capitol Digest, Jan. 16

The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The dome of the State Capitol building in Des Moines is shown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Jan. 16, 2018:

17 GUNS: The first week of the legislative session attracted big crowds to the Iowa Capitol for the Condition of the State, Judiciary and Guard speeches by Gov. Kim Reynolds, Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady and Iowa Army National Guard Adjutant Tim Orr, respectively.

However, few people were carrying concealed weapons. Dave Garrison, who oversees security at the Capitol entrances, said 17 people passed through security gates carrying concealed weapons.

Under a law the Legislature approved in 2017, Iowa has joined 20 other states in allowing some form of legal firearm carry for either visitors, legislators, employees or all of the above.

Visitors to the Capitol can carry their weapons as long as they have concealed carry permits and their weapons are not visible.

TEXT TO ‘FINE:’ House Study Bill 508 would give Iowans the option of using a mobile payment system to pay fines for traffic violations, simple misdemeanor and other violations not requiring a court appearance.

People choosing to use the mobile payment system would pay a 6 percent fee on top of fines and court costs for the convenience, explained Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, who chaired a three-member subcommittee that sent the bill to the full House Transportation Committee.

The mobile payment could result in more people paying their fines more quickly, which would help reduce the outstanding debt owed Iowa’s statewide court system, according to Christopher Rants, who represents TextGov, which operates in several Georgia counties.

The total outstanding court debt owed to the state is $731.9 million, according to the Legislative Services Agency. Nearly $169 million, 23 percent, of that is traffic debt.

Current Iowa law requires the citations and complaints or information be delivered in person or by mail to the appropriate county office.

DEER HARVEST: Hunters reported harvesting 105,544 deer in Iowa for 2017, according to the state Department of Natural Resources data released after the state’s deer seasons closed Jan. 10.

The 2017 total was more than 4,100 more than the previous year, or an increase of about 4 percent.

DNR officials said the most deer were harvested during the shotgun seasons.

The 2017 total included 57,522 antlerless deer, a 3 percent increase, and 47,992 antlered deer, which was up about 6 percent from 2016, according to DNR officials.

NET NEUTRALITY: Attorney General Tom Miller has attorneys general in 21 states and the District of Columbia in a federal lawsuit challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s decision last month to repeal net neutrality regulations.

Net neutrality rules the FCC passed in 2015 barred internet service providers (ISPs) from slowing or blocking the digital flow of content and applications, and from offering paid faster data channels, or lanes.

The repeal enables ISPs to give preferential treatment to sites they designate and block or reduce data speeds for others. It also enables ISPs to charge users to access specific content.

“By repealing these rules, the FCC changed the so-called ‘Internet of Things’ to the internet of kings,” Miller said. “Consumers and small businesses alike should expect no less than equal access to internet content. Unfettered data access shouldn’t be a luxury — it’s a necessity that’s vital to our nation’s economy and our state’s economy.”

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