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New Laws Are Now In Effect

iowa state capitol svaNorthwest Iowa — It’s the start of a new fiscal year for many organizations and government subdivisions. A bunch of new laws are also now in effect.

If you boat on any of Iowa’s waterways, you’re going to have to follow some new restrictions. The Department of Natural Resources says it’s now illegal to transport any aquatic plants on water-related equipment. That means you’ll have to drain all water from boats and equipment before leaving a body of water and drain plugs will need to be removed or opened while transporting the equipment.

In an attempt to keep more sales tax revenue in the state, it is now law that 6 percent sales tax is to be imposed on transactions across the Internet into the state. That means, technically that if you buy something from an online retailer in California, they are supposed to charge you tax and send it to the State of Iowa. The issue of collecting taxes across state lines is still being debated at the Federal level. About a dozen states are attempting to collect sales tax on Internet purchases made by their residents.

Iowa’s historic education reform legislation is also now in force. The centerpiece of the new law creates a teacher leadership structure to raise student achievement. The bill also raises minimum salaries for teachers, expands online learning options for students, and creates pilot projects designed to explore competency-based education. It implements teacher leadership structure, pays teachers more, and gives school boards the option of measuring school years in hours rather than days, among other changes. Plus, school districts can expect their funding to increase over the next several years.

Also the Governor of Iowa now has to approve the spending of any Medicaid funds for abortions. Iowa’s Medicaid program covers these costs for a handful of cases each year due to rape, incest, fetal deformity or to protect a mother’s life.

And just across the border in South Dakota, drivers with an instructional permit or a restricted permit are not allowed to use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. Usually these would be those between 14 and 18 years of age. Also, the law will be enforced on a secondary basis, meaning that officers will only write tickets for it if they pull the driver over for something else first. Iowa’s law is that adults are banned from text messaging while driving. It is enforced on a secondary basis. Teenage drivers in Iowa are prohibited from using handheld electronic devices. That law is enforced in Iowa on a primary basis.

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