Iowa Gov signs ‘Back the Blue’ bill raisings protections for cops, penalties for protest-related offenses

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DES MOINES, IA – Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed “Back the Blue” bill Thursday that raises penalties for unlawful protesters and raising qualified immunity for Iowa police officers.

The “Back the Blue” legislation, also titled SF 342, makes rioting a felony offense, increases penalties on a range of other destructive behaviors, establishes qualified immunity, and increases due process protections for law enforcement.

The new law also holds local governments accountable that prevent local law enforcement from doing their jobs.  In a press release issued by the Governor’s office, Gov. Reynolds said:

“I made it clear in my Condition of the State Address that Iowa’s law enforcement will always have my respect, and I will always have their back.

“Today’s bill embodies that commitment in a historic way. The public peace is too important, and the safety of our officers too precious, to tolerate destructive behavior.” 

The bill also bans discrimination in the enforcement of the law and establishes a process for citizens who believe their rights have been violated to file a complaint with the state Attorney General.

Gov. Reynolds said:

“Today’s bill illustrates an important truth: there is no contradiction whatsoever between steadfast support for honorable and selfless law enforcement officers – the vast majority – and a commitment to improving law enforcement.”

Governor Reynolds also signed HF 708 , a separate bill creating a law enforcement equipment fund in the Department of Public Safety. It was seeded with $5 million in this year’s budget. 

Critics of the new law claim the more severe sentencing for violators will interfere with free speech and disproportionately impact black residents.

At a news conference Thursday morning, Democratic members of the Iowa Legislative Black Caucus said Reynolds failed to reach out to them when crafting the legislation. They also said she abandoned her push for a ban on racial profiling by law enforcement.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said:

“Instead of furthering an important discussion about anti-racial profiling measures and modernizing our public safety departments, Gov. Reynolds took a giant step backwards.”

Disregarding the Democratic criticism, Gov. Reynolds said that police can be supported while improving policing:

“There’s no contradiction between steadfast support for honorable and selfless police officers — the vast majority — and a commitment to improving policing.

Gov. Reynolds said at a bill signing ceremony at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Johnston that police need to know they are supported:

“Like so many Iowans, I was raised to be grateful to the heroes who patrol our streets at great personal risk and sacrifice.

“And tragically, this fundamental and wholesome part of America’s culture is now under vicious attack.”

The new law comes a year after Gov. Reynolds signed the More Perfect Union Act, a law that banned most chokeholds and addressed police officer misconduct. The law passed the Iowa Legislature unanimously in a single day.

To the critics who claimed the law disproportionately impacted the black community, Gov. Reynolds responded:

“Don’t break the law and it won’t apply to you.”

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Iowa joins 18 other ‘constitutional carry’ states, says no permit needed to buy or carry handguns

April 3, 2021

 

DES MOINES, IA – Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA) signed House File 756 into law Friday eliminating a requirement that Iowans obtain a permit to acquire or carry handguns. Iowa joins 18 states with similar “constitutional carry” laws.

Governor Reynolds said the new law will protect the Second Amendment:

“Today I signed legislation that protects the 2nd Amendment rights of Iowa’s law-abiding citizens while still preventing the sale of firearms to criminals and other dangerous individuals.”

The Governor said the law will help protect law-abiding citizens:

“(The new law takes) greater steps to inform law enforcement about an individual’s mental illness helping ensure firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands.

“We will never be able to outlaw or prevent every single bad actor from getting a gun, but what we can do is ensure law-abiding citizens have full access to their constitutional rights while keeping Iowans safe.”

The law takes effect on July 1 and will give Iowans the right to purchase and carry concealed handguns without a permit issued by the Sheriff’s departments. The new law also shifts the burden of background checks from the purchaser to the gun dealers.

Current Iowa law requires anyone who wants to purchase or carry a firearm must receive a license from their county Sheriff’s office.

Before issuing the permit, the office must run a check on the applicant using the federal government’s database of persons excluded from owning firearms. If the person passes, they receive a permit valid for five years.

State Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig), H.F. 756’s floor manager, said the new law ends a flawed system:

“This bill fundamentally changes the relationship between the state government and our citizens. Currently, whether we want to admit it or not, our system of permits is one of mistrust. That means you can exercise a fundamental right, but you must prove yourself not guilty in advance.

“That is not how America is supposed to work and I’m not happy with the way our federal government is moving right now. But I know it’s not the way Iowa works and we’re going to deal with that now.

“After House File 756, the honest citizen is free from government intrusion in this aspect of their lives. Those who prove themselves not worthy through their own actions, however, will see their penalties increase. This is the proper role and word of government.”

 

 

 

 

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