116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES – Gov. Chet Culver plans this week to sign bills into law dealing with the issuance of gun permits, expanded seat-belt usage for teenaged passengers, additional help for military veterans, and studying the feasibility of building a second nuclear plant in Iowa.
Culver's staff issued a schedule of bill-signing ceremonies for this week since Friday 30 marks the last day for the governor to take action of bills approved during the 2010 legislative session. Culver still has a number of fiscal 2011 budget bills to take action on, as well as a dwindling list of policy measures.
Included among the planned signing ceremonies was an event Thursday in Des Moines to approve Senate File 2379, a measure approved near the end of the session last month that would overhaul the way concealed weapon permits are issued in Iowa.
Currently, anyone seeking a permit to carry a concealed weapon must apply with a local county sheriff, who decides whether to grant or deny an application for a gun permit. The legislation that Culver plans to sign would establish a statewide “shall issue” standard that would require sheriffs to issue permits to applicants who meet the requirements or to provide specific reasons for denying a request.
Culver, a first-term Democrat, plans to join President Obama during a visit to an energy facility in Fort Madison on Tuesday before traveling to Sioux City later that afternoon to sign four bills that will make Iowa the first state to enact all 10 of the U.S. Defense Department's quality-of-life measures for soldiers and families of service members.
The list of soldier-friendly bills deal with a host of issues including utility shut-offs, weapons permits and other issues that might arise during or after a military deployment. Others covered jobless compensation for trailing spouses, child custody and visitation matters during deployment separations, absentee voting, access to child care for military families, and certain support benefits for National Guard and reserve members and their families.
On Wednesday, Culver is slated to sign a transportation budget bill that includes a provision that expands the requirement for back-seat passengers to wear seat belts or restraints up to the age of 18. Currently, the law applies to back-seat passengers under the age of 11.
Also Wednesday, the governor plans to sign House File 2399, which proposed to allow MidAmerican Energy Co. to boost electric consumer rates by $15 million to study the feasibility of building a nuclear plant in Iowa to generate electrical power. The bill provides for an annual electrical bill rate rider for three years of $4 per residential customer, $15 per commercial customer and $1,100 for industrial customers to finance a three-year study to be reviewed annually by the Iowa Utilities Board.
Backers said MidAmerican -- which previously agreed to operate under a rate freeze through 201 needed a cost-recovery mechanism to cover site selection, design, licensing and construction of a plant to generate electricity using nuclear power.
Iowa currently has one nuclear power plant, the Duane Arnold Energy Center near Palo, and one study option could be exploring a tandem nuclear plant near that location, backers said.
Critics pushed for a broader focus that would include renewable sources, such as solar and biomass cogeneration, and energy efficiency measures that would help address concerns associated with climate change.
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