Dems: Judiciary Committee Report – Week 16, 2019

May 3, 2019
By

FLOOR ACTION:

HF 328 – Definition of vulnerable elder

HF 421 – Transfers from a state mental health institute to DOC

HF 638 – Rental properties

HF 732 – Relating to the Medical Cannabidiol Act

SF 589 – Criminal omnibus bill

 

FLOOR ACTION:

HF 328 – Definition of vulnerable elder

HF 328 amends the definition of “vulnerable elder” in Chapter 235F relating to elder abuse. In the Chapman case, the Iowa Supreme Court interpreted the Code definition of vulnerable elder to be a person 60 or older. The bill changes the definition to require more than age to be considered in determining if someone is vulnerable. Under this bill, the Code will read, “Vulnerable elder means a person sixty years of age or older who is unable to protect himself or herself from elder abuse as a result of a mental or physical condition or because of a personal circumstance which results in an increased risk of harm to the person.”
[4/25: 49-0 (Absent: Chapman)]

 

HF 421 – Transfers from a state mental health institute to DOC

HF 421 addresses when a state mental health institute patient may be transferred to the Iowa Medical Classification Center (IMCC) at Coralville, a Department of Corrections facility. Under current law, when a patient at a state mental health institute becomes dangerous to others at the facility, the administrator may apply for a court order to transfer the patient to IMCC to be housed in the forensic hospital inside the prison. The forensic hospital is a 14-bed hospital where some defendants who have been charged with a crime are court ordered to undergo a competency (to stand trial) evaluation, and if found not competent, the defendant undergoes treatment to restore him/her to competency. In addition, some people at the forensic hospital have been found not guilty by reason of insanity and have been court ordered to the IMCC. Under this bill, the MHI administrator would need the consent of the director of the Department of Corrections to apply for a court order to transfer a patient to the IMCC. There is a constant waiting list for beds at the forensic hospital. Though the forensic hospital at IMCC is inside the prison, it is not considered a prison facility.

The bill also removes references in the Code to the mental health institutes in Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant and to the Iowa Juvenile Home. These facilities were closed by the governor without input from the Legislature.
[4/27: 31-16, Party-line (Absent: Dawson, Lykam, T. Taylor)]

 

HF 638 – Rental properties

HF 638 makes changes to various aspects of landlord-tenant laws. Under Chapter 562A relating to landlord and tenant relationships where the tenant rents an apartment or home, a rental agreement of $700 or less per month cannot charge a late fee that exceeds $12 per day or $60 per month. For rental agreements greater than $700 per month but less than $1,400, the late fee cannot exceed $20 per day or $100 per month. The bill changes late rental fees for any rental agreement in which the rent is at least $1,400 per month. Under the bill, the late fee cannot exceed 2% of the rent per day or 10 percent per month.

For rental agreements under the uniform mobile home park landlord tenant chapter, 562B, the bill maintains the late fees of $12 per day or $60 per month. When the rent is greater than $700 per month but less than $1,400, a rental agreement cannot exceed $20 per day or $100 per month. When rent is $1,400 or more per month, the late fee cannot exceed 2% of the rent per day or 10 percent of the monthly rent. Chapter 562B applies to landlord and tenant relationships when the tenant owns the manufactured home (a/k/a mobile home) but rents the lot that the home is placed on.

In addition, as amended on the Senate floor, the bill requires that a notice to cancel by a landlord under Chapter 562B, the mobile home park landlord and tenant act, must be for good cause. “Good cause” means a violation of the chapter by a tenant, a material violation of the manufactured home community or mobile home park rules or regulations, a change in the use of the land on which the mobile home park is located, or material noncompliance with the rental agreement by the tenant. Under current law, a landlord may terminate a lease without cause.

The bill, as passed by the Senate, also requires a landlord to provide at least 180 days’ notice to the tenants prior to any rent increase. Current law only requires 60 days’ notice.
[4/26: 48-0 (Absent: Feenstra, Zaun)]

 

HF 732 – Relating to the Medical Cannabidiol Act

HF 732 makes these changes to the current medical cannabidiol program:

  • Amends “debilitating medical condition” under Code definitions by replacing “untreatable pain” with “severe or chronic pain.”
  • Allows licensed physician assistants and registered nurse practitioners to provide written certification attesting to patients’ eligibility for the medical cannabis program.
  • Removes the current 3% THC cap and replaces it with 25 grams over 90 days maximum disbursement.
  • Removes the prohibition on certain felons applying for medical cannabidiol registration card.
  • Allows medical cannabidiol dispensaries to employ licensed pharmacists or pharmacy technicians.
  • Creates a waiver process that allows a provider to certify a qualified patient to receive more than 25 grams of THC over a 90-day period if the health care practitioner determines 25 grams is not adequate or the patient’s debilitating condition is a terminal illness with life expectancy of less than one year.
  • Directs the Iowa Department of Public Health to adopt rules for collecting and evaluating data relating to patient demographics, effective treatment options, clinical outcomes and quality-of-life outcomes for reporting on benefits, risks and outcomes for patients participating in the program.
    [4/27: 40-7 (No: Behn, Breitbach, Carlin, Costello, Feenstra, Garrett, Whiting; Absent: Dawson, Lykam, T. Taylor)]

 

SF 589 – Criminal omnibus bill

SF 589 makes changes to multiple areas of criminal law, including changes to some penalties and criminal procedures. A number of changes pertain to criminal appeals and appear to be in response to some court decisions that favored defendants. Parts of the bill are advantageous to criminal defendants and some that are not.

This bill makes changes to:

  • Expungement – allows for expungement of various misdemeanor convictions.
  • Robbery – makes various changes to the robbery chapter.
  • Theft, fraud, forgery and other property crimes – increases the value of property stolen that qualifies for specific criminal charges.
  • Criminal proceedings.
  • Criminal penalties.

The Senate concurred on a House amendment that will allow defendants to pursue direct appeals from guilty pleas for good cause. The original bill prohibited direct appeals from guilty pleas. The amendment also removes enhanced penalties for multiple public intoxication convictions. Under current law, a first offense for public intoxication is punishable as a simple misdemeanor; a second conviction is punishable as a serious misdemeanor; and a third or subsequent conviction is considered an aggravated misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine. This bill will make all public intoxication convictions simple misdemeanors, with no enhancements for second or subsequent convictions.
[4/25: 49-0 (Absent: Chapman)]

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