State Senate Working On Expanding Medical Marijuana Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa Senate Republicans are showing support for legislation that would expand a state medical marijuana oil program, but it appears to lack support in the House.
The Senate Appropriations subcommittee approved the bill on Wednesday.
State Senator Bill Anderson of Pierson explains what health related diseases the expanded medical marijuana bill will cover.
Iowa’s existing medical marijuana program, which allows use of cannabis oil for some people with epilepsy. Although the bill expands the use of medical marijuana, it still bans the recreational use of smoking marijuana.
Republican State Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull says he has had a change of opinion regarding medical marijuana.
The Department of Public Health says lawmakers would need to allocate money to start the program.
If approved by other committees, senators say the bill could be eligible for debate next week by the full Senate. Both Anderson and Feenstra believes it will pass the Iowa Senate Chamber.
However, House Speaker Linda Upmeyer says the bill would need to be more limited to pass in the House.
Iowa House Passes Texting While Driving Bill
(Des Moines) — The Iowa House has passed legislation that will allow law enforcement officials the opportunity to issue tickets for texting while driving. State Representative Chuck Holz of Le Mars says House members believe it is past time to get tougher on those drivers who are being distracted with their texts messages. He says House members want texting while driving to be a primary offense. Under current law, texting while driving could only be a secondary offense, meaning a law enforcement officer would need another reason
to stop a driver.
Lawmakers May Eliminate Taxes On Energy For Research
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Republican lawmakers are considering whether to eliminate a tax on utilities that has long funded energy and environmental research centers at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa.
A draft plan circulated Thursday proposes ending in 2022 an assessment on utilities that raises about $5 million annually for the Iowa Energy Center at ISU and the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at Iowa.
Lawmakers enacted the tax on the revenues of gas and electric utilities in 1990. Eighty-five percent of the assessment goes to the Iowa Energy Center, which promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The Iowa Energy Center would be transferred from ISU to the Iowa Economic Development Authority and given a far more industry-friendly mission. About a dozen university employees would be laid off.
Democratic Sen. Bill Dotzler says he worries the centers will go away once their funding stream ends.
Voter ID Bill Passes Legislature
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Legislature has passed a bill that will require identification at the polls and reduce the number of early voting days.
The Senate approved the bill 28-21 Thursday. The House approved it earlier this month. It now heads to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who has indicated he supports requiring ID to vote.
The legislation would require people to show acceptable identification at the polls beginning in 2019. The state must provide identification to people who need it.
Another provision will reduce early voting before a general election from 40 days to 29 days. It also eliminates a straight party voting option.
Republicans say the measure will maintain voter integrity, though there’s no evidence of widespread fraudulent voting in Iowa. Democrats say the legislation will suppress voter turnout and is unnecessary amid budget constraints.
U-P-S To Move Flight Operations Out Of Des Moines
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – UPS plans to move much of its Des Moines air shipping operations to Illinois.
The company announced Thursday that the move to Chicago Rockford International Airport in Rockford will eliminate 123 jobs at the UPS facility at Des Moines International Airport. Rockford has a larger sorting facility with extra capacity and is closer to major markets.
UPS spokesman Jim Mayer says all 123 people will be offered similar positions elsewhere in Des Moines.
The move of 13 flights a week begins July 16. Mayer says the change will not affect UPS customers in the Des Moines area. UPS will continue to operate one nightly flight from Des Moines.
About 900 people work for UPS in the Des Moines area. The company says it doesn’t expect that number to change.
Couple To Pay Back Taxes From Tax Fraud
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The former owners of a West Des Moines bar have been given three years of probation for tax fraud.
Court records say 66-year-old James Perin and his wife, 62-year-old Mardeen Perin, were sentenced Wednesday.
Mardeen Perin pleaded guilty in December to aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false return. James Perin pleaded guilty to making and subscribing a false return.
Federal prosecutors say the Perins failed to report some cash income from Sully’s Irish Pub from 2008 to 2013, resulting in a tax loss to the U.S. government of more than $108,000. They must pay the back taxes and penalties and interest.