Governor signs bills on housing discrimination, photography at confinements

    Gov. Kim Reynolds has thrown out city ordinances banning discrimination based on the use of federal housing vouchers. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

    Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation that will negate city ordinances that prohibited landlords from turning down federal Section 8 housing vouchers for payment. 

    She signed a separate bill that is a new attempt to block surveillance at livestock confinements.

    Senate File 252 brought widespread and vehement opposition from affordable-housing advocates and from city government groups. They said the bill would worsen an already critical shortage of affordable housing in Iowa.

    The bill negates ordinances in Des Moines, Iowa City and Marion that banned discrimination based the source of revenue used to pay rent. Housing advocates contended landlords would use the bill to discriminate based on race while saying the issue involved Section 8 certificates.

    Landlords contended they should be allowed to decide whether to do business with the federal government.

    Reynolds sided with the landlords.

    House File 775 is another attempt at what environmentalists call “ag gag” legislation, some of which has been thrown out by courts in the past. Livestock farmers have complained about biosecurity issues and bad publicity after workers and even trespassers have videotaped what they considered animal abuse and shared the recordings.

    HF 775 makes it an aggravated misdemeanor for the first offense if a person is caught using a camera or “electronic surveillance device” or taking samples of water or other material at a confinement while trespassing. Repeat offenses are a Class D felony. 

    Perry Beeman
    Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.