House and Senate Pass Ag Protection Bill
On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, both Chambers of the Iowa Legislature approved Senate File 519 by bi-partisan votes. 41-aye to 8-nays in the Senate and 65-aye to 32-nay vote in the House. SF 519 creates new agricultural production facility trespass provisions that specifies certain offenses relating to agricultural production operations that cause economic damage or other injury are illegal. Those offenses include sabotage, adulterations, and destruction of property such as agricultural crops or animals.
The measure provides for a criminal offense of agricultural production facility trespass that involves the use of deception to obtain access to a facility not open to the public with an intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the facility’s operation, property or persons. The offense may include obtaining by deception with intent to harm the operation, property, person.
The legislation is similar to aspects of an Idaho law that has withstood a federal Court challenge. This legislation is of great interest to Iowa’s livestock and food processing industry as fraudulent trespass could result in the introduction of catastrophic animal diseases such as foot and mouth, or African Swine Fever. Either disease could cause billions of dollars of economic damage to Iowa farms, businesses and employees and would likely be ten to fifty larger impact than the avian influenza outbreak of a few years ago.
Under the Radar Bipartisan Work
While the press likes to focus on divisive issues and controversial topics, the truth is that the vast majority of the Legislature’s work is either unanimous or bipartisan. Through the first funnel, 91% of the bills passed out of House committees had bipartisan support (217 out of 238).
Here are a couple examples of bipartisan bills that that flew under the radar and passed this week but weren’t covered by the press:
Keeping roads safe from drunk drivers: Senate File 113 holds repeat drunk drivers accountable and keeps them off the roads to make our highways safer. This bill clarifies that a person convicted with three or more OWIs can be charged as a habitual offender and face stiffer penalties. Drunk driving is not only irresponsible, but it puts those who wish to travel safely on our roads and highways at risk.
Combatting opioid dependence: House File 623 requires the Iowa Medicaid program to offer at least one form of medication-assisted treatment without prior authorization. This legislation increases access to medication-assisted treatment which has shown to be an effective way to reduce opioid abuse and dependence.