Your guide to Iowa’s new laws

By: - July 1, 2022 2:19 pm

The Iowa Capitol. (Photo by Katie Akin/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Schools are no longer able to mandate vaccines, unemployment benefits last 10 fewer weeks, and Iowans can be charged with elder abuse starting Friday, July 1, as many of laws from the Iowa Legislature’s 2022 session take effect.

These may be the final changes to Iowa law coming in 2022, as the governor has said she does not plan to hold a special legislative session following court rulings on abortion. But there are more than 150 new laws which Gov. Kim Reynolds signed from this session that took effect July 1.

Here’s your guide to changes going into law across Iowa:

Legal changes

Appeals court nominees

A judicial nominating commission will send five finalists to the governor instead of three when filling a vacancy on the Iowa Court of Appeals. The law also allows judge candidates to apply to serve in a judicial district they do not live in, if they live in a contiguous county.

Elder abuse

Iowans older than 60 have more legal protections. The new law created criminal penalties for “elder abuse” in state law, as well as a new criminal charge for financial exploitation of people in this category. People charged with assaulting or stealing from Iowans over 60 years old also now face higher minimum penalties.

Garbage searches

Law enforcement officials can search an individual’s garbage without having to obtain a search warrant under Iowa law. The measure states there is “no reasonable expectation to privacy” for trash that is placed outside a person’s residence in a public area. The new law overturns an Iowa Supreme Court decision in 2021, which banned police from searching a person’s uncollected trash without a warrant.

Reproductive fraud

Using human reproductive material that the patient did not consent to in writing is now illegal in Iowa. Nonconsensual insemination will considered be sexual abuse in the fourth degree, an aggravated misdemeanor. It also changes current law to allow any woman over 18 to consent to their own hysterectomy. Current law states a doctor can require spousal consent.

Workforce changes

Child care workers

Know a 16- or 17-year-old looking for a job? Starting Friday, the age limit for workers supervising school-age children without adult supervision dropped from 18 to 16. The law also increased the number of toddlers a child care staff member can care for: seven 2-year-olds per staff member, and up to 10 children who are 3 years old.

Unemployment benefits

Starting Friday, Iowans will only have 16 weeks of maximum unemployment benefits, lowered from the previous 26-week limit. The law also adds new rules for eligibility, including a one-week waiting period, and the requirement that workers to accept lower-paying jobs sooner or risk losing their benefits.

New school laws

Asthma medication

Students with respiratory ailments can now keep and use an inhaler or other medication in school, with written parental permission and a doctor’s statement. Schools are now allowed also to stock the medications and appropriate personnel may administer it to students reasonably believed to be in respiratory distress.

Child care payments

Families who use state aid to pay for child care can make additional, private payments to their child care providers. The current system reimburses providers with 50% to 75% the market rate for care. But now, child care centers can charge the difference between the state assistance and the private pay rate.

Teacher licensing

Teachers no longer must take a standardized test to obtain a teaching license in Iowa. Under previous law, Iowa teachers pass a series of standardized tests, which are also used to certify teachers in states like Nebraska and Kansas.

Vaccine mandates

Child care centers, public K-12 schools and Regents universities can no longer require students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend school. The law, which stands until 2029, builds on Iowa’s existing guidelines that government buildings – including public schools – cannot require vaccine status disclosure.

Business regulations

Aircraft taxation

Under new law, aircraft owners in Iowa don’t have to pay sales tax on parts and labor. Aircraft owners could save up to $700,000 a year, according to legislative fiscal analysts.

Food delivery

Food delivery apps like Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats are required to enter a formal agreement with restaurants they deliver food from. Before advertising a restaurant’s menu, apps must reach an agreement with the restaurant owner for the food to be available on the delivery platform. The new law also sets new standards for delivery vehicles, which include requirements that food is kept at a safe temperature and in a clean space in the car, and that drivers could not work for a rideshare app and pick up passengers while delivering food.

New protections, services

Abortion alternatives

This new law establishes a statewide program to advocate against abortion by providing pregnancy support services. The program, which has $500,000 in funding, will support organizations that help mothers and families navigate pregnancy, including adoption education services, funds for food, housing and counseling, as well as child care assistance.

Mobile home costs

Landlords must provide an extra month notice for rent increase or lease cancellation to mobile home owners starting Friday. While Democrats criticized the law for not going far enough, it’s a step toward the protections mobile home owners have long sought against unfair or predatory practices by park owners.

Which laws take effect later?

Bottle recycling

Iowa grocery and convenience stores will not have to accept customers’ empty beverage containers, when sweeping changes to the state’s “bottle bill” take effect in January. Retailers will not have to accept bottles if they are licensed to prepare ready-to-eat food. They can also not accept containers if they are located within 10 miles of a redemption center or mobile redemption center in more populace counties, or 15 miles in smaller counties.

Republican lawmakers said the new law means many grocery stores will likely stop taking bottles, passing the labor onto redemption centers. Centers will collect 3 cents per container, up from 1 cent.

E15

Gas stations will largely be required to sell gas with 15% ethanol, known as E15, starting in 2023. Retailers can apply for waivers if they do not own equipment compatible with the blend, or if they are a small enough company. The law also requires any new gas equipment installed to be compatible with 85% ethanol gas, and 20% biodiesel gas.

Tax cuts

Tax reductions will phase in gradually under the law Reynolds signed in March. In 2023, Iowa will no longer tax retirement income, which includes 401(k)s, pensions and IRAs. Farmers will also be eligible for new exemptions. The larger change is to Iowa’s income tax. All income will be taxed at a 3.9% rate by 2026, with the state gradually eliminating higher tax brackets starting in 2023. Corporate taxes will also decrease over time, cutting the top rate from 9.8% to 5.5%.

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. Robin has experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald, in addition to working on multimedia projects, newsletters and visualizations. They were a political reporter for the Des Moines Register covering the Iowa caucuses leading up to the 2020 presidential election, assisting with the Register's Iowa Poll, and reporting on Iowa's 4th District elections.

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