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Iowa Watchdog

Sex offenders and ice cream truck drivers beware: New Iowa laws in effect


DES MOINES – Sex offenders, school workers and ice cream truck drivers in Iowa beware: Monday marks the day that a slew of new state laws go into effect.

All school employees will now have to undergo background checks that will include a search of the state’s sex offender and child abuse registry. Ice cream truck drivers will undergo the check to show they have a clean record. Those who don’t will not be allowed to operate their trucks in new “sex offender exclusion zones.”

Others affected by the new laws? Cell phone users, who will have to pay a 35 cent monthly surcharge for E-911, and college students at both public and private schools. Additionally, small-time lawbreakers, who will have to submit DNA samples and drivers whose licenses won’t expire for eight instead of five years. They will also be able to renew them online.

The beginning of July not only marks the independence of America but the implementation of new laws passed by lawmakers in states across the country. The impact of some won’t be felt until later as policymakers work to fine tune them.

Background checks for ice cream truck operators are among a slew of new laws taking effect Monday in Iowa.

Background checks for ice cream truck operators are among a slew of new laws taking effect Monday in Iowa.

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Unlike Iowa, other states will see new rules that affect gun laws, limit abortions and allow residents to participate in the lottery.

Here’s a breakdown of some laws passed by lawmakers this year that go into effect Monday:

Cities and towns are able to create reinvestment districts that allow them to divert state sales tax dollars and local hotel fees to cover the cost of new attractions or projects.

Taxpayers will receive small income tax credits and the state’s earned income tax credit will increase for its poorest workers.

School districts will see a bump in their general state aid, while also receiving additional stipends if they adopt measures to raise teacher salaries and offer incentives for those who take on teacher leadership roles.

College students will benefit from tuition freezes at the state’s three public universities. Those attending private colleges are eligible for state grants of as much as $5,000.

Gov. Terry Branstad will have the final say in whether Medicaid dollars will pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest or those in which the mother’s life is in danger.

Tax reforms will start to take effect, although some will be gradually implemented. The legislation reduces commercial properties’ taxable assessments by 10 percent, while providing small businesses property tax credits.

Contact Sheena Dooley at Sheena Dooley is the Iowa bureau chief for, where this story first appeared.

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