Capitol Update: Week 3

Water Quality Funding Bill Passed in House

After three years of working on water quality legislation, the Iowa House passed a bipartisan bill that establishes a dedicated, long-term source of funding for water quality projects across the state.

The bill provides $282 million in new funding over the next 12 years to make improvements in water treatment infrastructure and continue implementation of the research-based Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  This bill focuses efforts on both urban and rural improvements.

Last year, more than $400 million was invested into water quality efforts across the state.  The passage of Senate File 512 will increase funding even more and bring about historic levels of investment.

This bill makes improvements that will ensure Iowans have access to clean drinking water and that natural resources are preserved for future generations.

However, this is not the end of the discussion.  I am committed to continue working on water quality issues and will look for opportunities to keep Iowa’s lakes, rivers, and streams clean.

House Judiciary Committee Addresses Credit Card Skimming

On Tuesday, a House Judiciary Subcommittee held a meeting on house study bill 507. This bill would make it easier to prosecute individuals who use skimming devices to steal credit card information. Under current law, skimming devices are illegal and a person caught using one can be charged with a class D felony and face up to five years in prison and a fine.

Credit card skimming is another way to steal credit card information. Criminals will place an electronic device on a card reading machine (often times at gas stations or ATMs), when a person scans their card to make a purchase, the skimming device records the credit card information and that information can be used to make fraudulent charges. These skimmers are easily put on and can be difficult to detect.

HSB 507 takes several steps to ensure those who use skimming devices face appropriate consequences. Changes in definitions close loopholes and keep Iowa code up to date with quickly changing technology.  In addition to other changes, the bill would make it a class “D” felony to possess a skimming device with the intent to obtain unauthorized credit card information.

While there is no guaranteed way to avoid being a victim of one of these skimming devices, following a few simple steps can help protect your credit card information:

  • Pay inside- skimming devices are quick and easy to install, but not every criminal is willing to put them in a store. A point of sale terminal next to a clerk could be a safer alternative.
  • Inspect the card reader- Are the card reader and pin pad similar in style and color, or do they look different? If the card reader and pin pad are different it could be a warning sign a skimming devices has been added to the card reader.
  • Monitor your accounts on a regular basis. Even if your account information is stolen, careful monitoring of your account can alert you to fraudulent charges early so you can report them to your bank or credit card company.

HSB 507 passed out of subcommittee with full support.  We will be debating this in the Judiciary committee early next week.  I plan on supporting this important legislation.

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