The following is a legislative update from State Senator Amanda Ragan, representing portions of Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties:
PUBLIC SAFETY BILLS WIN UNANIMOUS SUPPORT
I am proud to support initiatives that make our state a safer place. The Legislature has taken up several bills in the last couple weeks that have won bipartisan support to keep Iowans safe and ensure justice is served.
Establishing a Cold Case Unit
SF 561<https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=89&ba=SF561> establishes a Cold Case Investigation Unit within the Department of Public Safety. The unit will hire two full-time agents to solve long-standing crimes, including unsolved murders and cases of missing persons presumed to be dead.
Child endangerment by a sex offender
HF 710<https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=89&ba=HF710> expands the definition of child endangerment. Under the bill, it will be considered child endangerment when a registered sex offender whose offense involved a minor has control of or unsupervised access to a minor. A violation will be a “D” felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine.
The bill does include exceptions when an offender is the legal parent or guardian of the minor or when an offender is married to and living with the legal parent or guardian of the minor, and access to the minor is not otherwise illegal.
Assistance for child witnesses
Under current law, a witness for the prosecution who is under 14 is entitled to have a guardian ad litem appointed to represent their interests in certain criminal cases, including sex abuse, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and more.
Emergency contact info for DOT
Under HF 435<https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=89&ba=HF435>, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) will include emergency contact information in its database. When a person applies for a driver’s license or ID card, they can voluntarily provide emergency contacts, who can be contacted if the person is involved in an accident or emergency and is unable to communicate.