Legislation cracks down on crimes against older Iowans

We had a busy week with floor debate. Last week, we passed the Health and Human Services budget on the House floor. I talked about the specifics of it in last week’s newsletter. I am happy it focuses on the workforce shortage in health care, from physicians to direct care workers. Now that all of the House budgets have been passed, we will negotiate with the Senate and come to final numbers.

Monday, I was able to meet with Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig to discuss the avian flu issue in Iowa. It’s more contagious than 2015 and it’s coming from wild birds who are migrating north. Producers have done a great job since 2015 improving their mitigation efforts so there is less risk of spread from farm to farm. When a farm is confirmed positive for bird flu, the birds (chickens and turkeys) are depopulated and the site must be cleaned and disinfected to ensure the virus doesn’t spread further.

What does this mean for Iowans? We’ve already been experiencing inflation at the gas pump and grocery store, and this will likely have an additional impact in poultry and eggs, but also all products that use eggs (baking mixes, some breads, etc).

Also Monday, I managed SF 2260, a bill that requires any research facility that accepts tax dollars to set up an adoption program to place dogs and cats when they are retired from the research projects, as long as they do not pose a risk to the public. It passed committee unanimously. As an animal lover myself, I was happy to advance this bill.

Senate File 522, a bill increasing penalties for elder abuse, is headed to the governor’s desk. For the past several years representatives, senators, the public, and advocates have been working to find a way to protect older Iowans from physical, economic, and emotional abuse. While it might sound simple, the bill went through countless meetings and amendments to ensure it was protecting vulnerable Iowans the best way possible.

Under the bill, an older Iowan is considered a person over the age of 60. The bill strengthens penalties for various crimes and creates a new crime for those who hurt older Iowans.

The crimes and criminal penalties in the new bill are as follows.

• Theft against an older individual – charges range from class B felony for first degree theft to a serious misdemeanor for fifth degree theft.

• Elder abuse – charges range from a class C felony for serious injury down to a serious misdemeanor if there is other intentional elder abuse.

• Financial exploitation of an elder individual – penalties range from a class B felony if more than $50,000 is involved, to a serious misdemeanor for less than $100.

• Dependent adult abuse – penalties range from a class C felony for intentional abuse with serious injury to a simple misdemeanor.

Penalties by individual charge:

• Class B felony- up to 25 years in prison.

• Class C felony- up to 10 years in prison and a fine.

• Class D felony- up to five years in prison and a fine.

• Aggravated misdemeanor- up to two years in prison and a fine

• Serious misdemeanor- up to one year in jail and a fine.

• Simple misdemeanor- up to 30 days in jail and a fine.

These new charges will help ensure that those who choose to hurt older Iowans face serious consequences. SF 522 passed with broad bipartisan support and will be effective July 1, 2022.

State Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, represents Badger, Clare, Duncombe, Fort Dodge, Vincent and rural areas of northern Webster County.


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