Several new laws will hit the books on Saturday, the start of the 2007 state fiscal year. Changes were made during the 2006 legislative session that will impact the citizens of Iowa. These include new identity theft protections, enhanced penalties for hit and run accidents, and right-of-way obstructions along Iowa’s highways.

While many of the bills the Legislature passed this year did not make headlines, Iowans should be aware of some changes to our laws taking effect July 1. The General Assembly made some significant changes designed to improve public safety, protect consumers and maintain our high quality of life.

Some of the changes that will go into effect Saturday include:

• Identity theft. Victims will be able to get an Identity Theft Passport from Iowa’s Attorney General to protect them from false criminal charges and fraudulent credit charges (HF 2506).

• Boating accidents. Boaters who fail to stop and offer assistance at the scene of an accident or collision resulting in death will be guilty of a felony (HF 2612).

• Hit and run accidents. Enhanced penalties for hit and run violations resulting in injury or death (HF 2398).

• Volunteer firefighter death benefits. Ensures that volunteer firefighters killed in the line of duty receive their $100,000 death benefit (HF 2665).

• Obstruction in highways. Fences, gardens, retaining walls and crops are not permitted in the right-of-way. Mailboxes, however, are allowed. Dangerous obstructions can be removed by the highway authority at the landowner’s expense.

• Littering. Fines are increased for littering on public highways from $35 to $70, and from $15 to $30 in state parks (SF 2319).

• Operating while intoxicated. Fines are increased for OWI to $1,250 for the first offense, between $1,875 and $6,250 for the second offenses, and between $3,125 and $9,375 for the third offense (HF 2789).

For more information on these or other bills go to www.legis.state.ia.us.

Polly Bukta, a Democrat from Clinton, has been a member of the Iowa House of Representatives since 1997. She represents District 26, which covers part of Clinton County.

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