The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

March 1, 2014

Bills pass through Iowa House

This week the House passed HF2253 which toughens penalties for those convicted of crimes against children, specifically kidnapping. This bill was generated after a last summer’s kidnapping of Kathlynn Shepard and Desi Hughes which resulted in the murder of Shepard, who was 15.

The bill makes the crime of kidnapping a child 15 or younger a class B felony and lengthens prison time for those who are convicted of this crime. In the Shepard case, the murderer was a convicted child kidnapper who was freed due to good behavior. This bill would have ensured he stayed in prison.

Keeping Iowa’s children safe from harm is one of our highest priorities. While I am deeply saddened by the loss of Kathlynn Shepard and the trauma suffered by Desi Hughes, I am hopeful this measure will help prevent this horrific situation from ever happening again. The bill passed the House 94-3 and was sent to the Senate for their consideration.

Moving heavy duty equipment bill

I chaired the legislation, HF2230, which better defines when vehicle permits are required to drive heavy duty equipment on roads when that equipment is being used primarily for construction of permanent conservation practices on agricultural land.

The bill passed in the House by a vote of 97–0 with three representatives absent. It now goes to the Senate.

Increase tax credits for volunteers

I co-sponsored and was on the subcommittee that moved this bill, HF2076, to the full Ways and Means committee. This legislation was initially written to increase the state tax credit from $50 to $500 a year only for volunteer firefighters and volunteer EMTs.

Our subcommittee has recommended that the state tax credit be lowered to $100 a year but extended to not only volunteer firefighters and volunteer EMTs but also to full time firefighters and EMTs as well as reserve policemen who volunteer their services to their local communities. The bill applies retroactively to Jan. 1, for tax years beginning on or after that date.

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Poll

With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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