Government

Schools need to plan for school shooters (by law), a pair of prison assaults, solving diesel fuel clogs: Iowa Capitol Digest, March 28

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, thanks a visiting Mason City Girl Scout who visited the Capitol for Girls Scout Day Wednesday. Upmeyer participated in the scouts honorary “pinning” of female legislators as part of the observance.  (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, thanks a visiting Mason City Girl Scout who visited the Capitol for Girls Scout Day Wednesday. Upmeyer participated in the scouts honorary “pinning” of female legislators as part of the observance. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Wednesday.

SCHOOL EMERGENCY PLANS: On a divided voice vote, the House adopted a Senate amendment to SF 2364 that calls for schools to develop high-quality emergency plans.

The Senate amendment would let school boards determine who participates in drills — staff, faculty students — and whether the drill will be a walk-through of the emergency plan or a full drill.

It was approved and sent to the governor on a 100-0 vote.

PRISON STAFF ASSAULT AT CLARINDA: The state Department of Correction said a correctional officer was assaulted by an inmate at the Clarinda Correctional Facility at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The officer was attempting to “gain compliance” from an inmate who failed to follow directives when the inmate kicked toward the officer, according to a statement from the corrections agency.

The officer fired pepper spray, but the inmate struck the officer in the face with a closed fist and wrestled him to the ground.

The officer used a restraining technique to gain control of the inmate until other officers responded.

The officer, who was treated by the Clarinda facility’s health services, suffered and bruises from the incident, but stayed on duty and completed his shift.

The incident remains under investigation.

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PRISON STAFF ASSAULT AT FORT MADISON: A correctional officer was assaulted by an inmate at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison at 8:25 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Two correctional officers were escorting an inmate who had been placed in restraints when the inmate struck one of the officers in the face with his head, according to prison officials.

Additional correctional officers took control of the situation.

The injured officer was taken to the Fort Madison Community Hospital, where he was treated for a cut and released.

The incident remains under investigation, according to corrections officials.

COMPETITIVE BIDDING: The House accepted a Senate amendment to HF 2253 that would require public bodies — cities, counties and state government, including the state Board of Regents — to go through a competitive bidding process before awarding contracts for public projects, including lease-purchase arrangements.

The bill surfaced after the Linn County Board of Supervisors chose not to use competitive bids before awarding a contract for construction of a public health and youth development services building estimated to cost $31.1 million.

Rep. Art Staed, D-Cedar Rapids, said the amendment added more restrictions on public bodies, but it was approved 58-41. It now goes to the governor.

DIESEL FUEL FILTRATION: Officials with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has been working with pipeline terminal operators, fuel retailers and petroleum marketers following some reports of dispenser fuel filter plugging at several diesel fuel retailers in central and northeast Iowa.

Officials report that some of the diesel fuel in the system has been clogging the 30 micron fuel filters that are required by Iowa law to be on retail diesel fuel pumps. The filters required at retail locations have been effective.

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State officials said they have received no reports of any vehicles having diesel fuel-related issues.

Retailers are exercising additional caution by replacing filters at shorter intervals to prevent any potential issues.

On-farm and private diesel fuel tanks and dispensers are not legally required to have the same 30 micron filters as retail equipment. As a result, state officials say farmers and others with bulk diesel fuel tanks may want to consider options to filter the diesel in their fuel storage tanks through a 30 micron or finer filter before it is placed in their equipment.

Iowans may report issues to the state Agriculture Department’s Weights and Measures Bureau at (515) 725-1492.

MILLER PUSHES OPIOID LEGISLATION: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined a bipartisan group of 48 other state and territory attorneys general Wednesday in asking Congress to ease federal restrictions that limit states’ ability to investigate and prosecute the abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries.

The attorneys general sent a letter to U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., in support of legislation that would expand the authority of Medicaid Fraud Control Units to detect, investigate and prosecute Medicaid patient abuse in home health care and other non-institutional settings.

If enacted, the legislation would allow state MFCUs to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries in non-institutional settings and broaden their authority to screen complaints or reports alleging potential abuse or neglect.

Under current law, MFCUs may investigate and prosecute patient abuse and neglect only if it occurs in a health care facility or, in some circumstances, in a board and care facility.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Tick, tick, tick, tick. There you go. The meter’s running. You’re costing taxpayers every day you dawdle. Let’s get it done.” — Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, during a Senate floor speech in which he urged the GOP majority to wrap up the 2018 session which is costing taxpayers $38,000 for each day until the Legislature’s per-diem expense money runs out April 17.

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