Ashley’s Angle: Week Five 2/5/18

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Trusted. Proven. Leader.

Thank you so much for entrusting me to represent Iowa House District 67. I am proud to represent people from Marion, Robins, Hiawatha, and Cedar Rapids.

Marsy’s Law for Iowa

In last week’s newsletter, my Bill of the Week outlined HJR 2003, otherwise known as “Marsy’s Law”. This week, I joined the Governor, Lt. Governor, Victims Advocates, law enforcement, attorneys, and a mother who lost her daughter to crime– all to stand up for victims and publicly declare my support for a constitutional amendment to protect victims in Iowa. I am proud of Iowa for having a dedicated section of code for Victims (which you can read here), but we need to guarantee the right to notification of all proceedings, as well as be guaranteed the right to be heard and respected at every step of the process. We guarantee rights to defendants, and I think this approach provides much needed balance in the Iowa Constitution.

Catching Up at Caucus

On Monday night, I had the opportunity to speak with my caucus for House District 67. We had voters from all of the precincts I represent, and I gave an update on what is happening in the legislature. Secretary of State Paul Pate, who lives in my district, also stopped by to give an update on the Voter ID laws in place. I also began collecting signatures to get my name on the ballot for re-election.

Legislative Business

Funnel Week Fast Approaching

As “Funnel Week” is quickly approaching, the Iowa Legislature is buzzing as everyone is scheduling subcommittee meetings to approve bills and pass them through committee. The Legislature operates under a schedule which sets deadlines for legislative action. This schedule is referred to as the “funnel” and exists to make the session more manageable.

These funnels require that all bills are out of subcommittees and full committees in order to be considered on the House floor and kicked over to the Senate. The first Funnel deadline is the Friday of the 6th week of the legislative session, which is next week on February 16th. The second Funnel deadline is the Friday of the 9th week of the legislative session. Some bills, however, are exempt to these funnel deadlines, such as Appropriations and Ways & Means bills. You can listen to me talk more about the funnel deadlines here.

Updates in Transportation

My week this week has been filled with various subcommittee meetings, as we try to pass our bills out of committee before the funnel. This week, I’ve chaired two subcommittee meetings relating to transportation bills. One bill was HJR 2006, which basically allows the state to not comply with federal law in revoking drivers licenses for all drug convictions. Many drug related convictions are not at all a safety issue on the roads, and these revocations are another barrier to getting to work or moving on with life after serving a sentence. Our goal is to reduce recidivism and return people to the work force, and not be overly punitive. If we pass the resolution, the Governor (who expressed her support for this idea) will send a letter to the Federal Government outlining our intent as a state. We do not lose highway funds as a result of this process, and it will save both the DOT and those looking to get back to their normal lives some money.

The other bill is HF 2248, which is designed to eliminate a loophole where some may be abusing the aircraft dealer “certificate” law. What this does is limit the amount of time an aircraft can be held in inventory to three years, sets the certificate fee at $400, and moves the annual expiration to October 31. In some cases, the line between bona fide aircraft dealer activity and personal use can be blurred. That said, because an aircraft subject to registration must pay annual registration fees, as well as a use tax on the purchase price, there is significant financial incentive to claim those aircraft as “inventory.”  The three year time limit should reign in abuses and fraudulent use of these aircraft.

Bill of the Week

The bill of the week is… HF 428.

HF 428, otherwise referred to as “Emmalee’s Law”, is a bill that would help clear up legal language in Iowa’s code that prevents prosecutors from pursuing more serious charges — and lengthier sentences — for hit-and-run defendants. The bill is named after Emmalee Jacobs, an Iowa State University freshman from Vinton, who was struck and killed by a CyRide bus. The driver of the bus was charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and failure to obey a traffic control device. The driver pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of failure to report an accident after a judge ruled in favor of the defense, saying prosecutors must prove the driver knew they struck someone at the time of the accident to pursue the more serious charge.

The bill language states that a person operating a motor vehicle who leaves the scene of an accident without knowing if the accident resulted in injury to or death of another person must give notice of the accident to local law enforcement agencies immediately after the person realizes that the accident resulted in injury to or death of another person.

If it is passed, those who violate the law will be guilty of a misdemeanor if the crash resulted in injury, aggravated misdemeanor if it resulted in a serious injury, and a class D felony if the accident resulted in a death.

It creates no additional burden on the driver who remains nor does it create a self incrimination issue beyond any that already exist under current law. We have a code section already that addresses the requirements for what you must do if you are involved in a crash or a crash with an injury or death. This doesn’t impose more or less severe penalties than would be imposed upon persons who do realize they were involved in an injury accident and remain at the scene.

If you have any questions about this or any other bill, please feel free to contact me. You can find the full text of the bill here: HF 428.

Meeting with the City of Hiawatha

On Tuesday, I had the chance to sit down with the Mayor, several city council members and city staff to discuss issues important to Hiawatha. We talked about the budget, Ground Emergency Medical Transport legislation I’m currently working on, and many other issues. Thanks for the visit!

Discussions with RefugeeRISE

It was great to meet with Shana, Katie, and Caleb, who all work for RefugeeRISE at the Catherine McCauley Center in Cedar Rapids. The organization focuses on increasing economic self-sufficiency, improving healthy outcomes, and increasing community engagement of individuals who came to the U.S. as refugees. We talked about the potential to educate some employers about the cultural differences and challenges that face refugees, and misunderstandings that can result for employers and other employees in the process.

Get Involved!

I am continuing to develop my Constituent Advisory Committee.
The group is comprised of people I could email or call to ask questions about specific policy questions. If you would like to join, please email my legislature email (ashley.hinson@legis.iowa.gov) and let me know what your area of expertise is and how I could get in touch with you.
From Education, Judicial issues, Medical, Energy, and Tax policy, I want your input in the process.