It’s that time of year again when people who enforce laws are breaking out their textbooks and brushing up on new statutes starting today in Iowa, thanks to a lengthy session featuring the Iowa legislature.
It’s not like police officers and tax officials didn’t have enough laws to memorize, but every July and January they receive a whole new list, this time with more than 90 new laws taking effect (with most of them starting today or in January), to learn. I’m sure that leads to a pleasant demeanor at local police stations and tax professional offices.
Most individuals won’t notice any change to their life with the advent of the new laws. Only a few major changes, including texting while driving and new restrictions regarding operating a boat while intoxicated, will affect a majority of citizens.
We’ve had a year to get used to not texting while driving. Since I have a hard enough time texting while sitting in my recliner, I choose to wait the few minutes before I reach home before breaking out my thumbs to type a message. During a recent trip to Chicago to watch the White Sox lose, I noticed one of the scariest or most impressive feats of driving. In Chicago rush hour traffic, the person next to me was literally playing with the radio, texting and trying to keep an eye on the road. If I wasn’t so scared for the cars in front and behind the man, I would have been impressed that he had yet to get into a collision.
The only issue that creates problems for me is that I sometimes glance at an incoming message during excursions on the road.
I’ll work on keeping my glances to a minimum, so I don’t get hauled away in cuffs after I exit work today for admitting my transgressions (most likely I wouldn’t spend time in jail, but upon a closer examination of ticket costs, the Iowa City Gazette is reporting that a $30 ticket will likely reach more than $100, once those wonderful court costs are figured into the total.)
Since we live on the Mississippi River, most of the citizens in our area will have to watch how much they drink starting today while boating. Boaters can now only have a .08 blood-alcohol content, down from .10.
I’m sure the DNR will patrol the waterways heavily because of the new law and this weekend marking Fourth of July festivities. Mix in great weather, and remember to remain careful, because not many warnings will be issued for people barely over the .08 BAC threshold.
Those are only two of the multitude of laws being introduced today. I examined the list of laws introduced by this session’s legislature and some will be unnoticeable to the general public, like the new law relating to instruments used to update county transfer books, while some others may bring in a potential boon for Iowa business, like the establishment of an open season for hunting mourning doves. Here are just a few measures that may have been overlooked over the last few months.
• Gambling legislation — Looking to get your gambling fix from the relaxation of your easy chair? The Iowa legislature has you covered.
Iowans can now bet at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, using an account accessed by phone or computer. The state is still working out a few kinks, but the new service will likely be ready by the end of the year.
Also, on a gambling note, the legislature will receive a report from the state racing and gaming commission no later than Dec. 1, regarding intrastate Internet poker. A multitude of tax money is lost every year because of websites offering poker services not recognized by the state of Iowa.
This may be the beginning of less stringent rules on gambling in Iowa, which could mean much more money for the state, but also plenty of arguments on how the state intends on taking cash from its constituents.
• Motorcycles — The state of Iowa will now allow the use of motorcycles equipped with detachable stabilizing rear wheels. A two-wheeled motorcycle that is modified using conversion hardware that allows for the attachment and detachment of two stabilizing wheels can now join the open road with the rest of motorists.
• Community college — In one of the laws that will most likely have a broader affect in the future, community colleges can participate in a trial period with local school districts to establish a consortium between the entities.
In order to participate in this new venture, the community college had to average an annual increase between 20 and 21 percent between 2005 and 2009, and include no less than four school districts, with enrollment of not less than 600 and no more than 800. And all participants have to be located within 30 miles of two cities and a state university.
So, the company is limited, but this legislation gives some community colleges and smaller school districts an opportunity to pool resources for a better product. The trial period will conclude in 2014, possibly giving way to more of these agreements if the joint ventures work well.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com. He has been employed with the Herald since 2008.