Legislative business: bees and fair prizes, and other odd bills in Iowa

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Legislative business: bees and fair prizes, and other odd bills in Iowa

(Harry Lynch/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

(Harry Lynch/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

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(Harry Lynch/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

TNS

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(Harry Lynch/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

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This legislative session, Republicans and Democrats have clashed over abortion rights and a $1 billion tax-cut bill, but not many know that, thanks to bipartisan action, this summer Iowa State Fair-goers will be able to use credit cards to win such prizes as giant stuffed bears from carnival games.

With a March 16 funnel deadline on the horizon, The Daily Iowan composed a list of lesser-known bills hurrying through the Legislature that often satisfy a narrow niche of legislators’ constituents.

Carnival games at fairs can now accept credit cards

HF 2417 passed the Iowa Senate and House unanimously in late February, and it awaits the signature of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The bill was would lend a hand to all county and state fairs by explicitly allowing “amusement concessions” to accept credit cards.

Iowa State Fair attendees previously couldn’t use credit cards when buying “credits” for carnival games and such items as ring toss, balloon, and dart games, said Mindy Williamson, the State Fair marketing director. This is because carnival-game credits previously fell under a provision by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which didn’t allow credit cards to be used to buy tokens or any similar credits for gambling.

“We have our own ownership of Midway Carnival Rides and Games, and they are not gambling, they are games of skill,” Williamson said. “That separates them from the Prairie Meadows-type atmosphere.”

Now, even if fair goers forget extra pocket change, they can win as many giant stuffed bears — depending on their luck — as their credit limit will allow.

If you wanted to sue the local government after a bee sting, think again

Passed Tuesday by the Iowa House of Representatives, HF 2371 would protect state and local governments from being sued if a person is stung by a bee from constructed beehives on public property.

“Schools often haven’t allowed [bee hives] because of the potential liability of having bees on school property — if someone gets stung and then wants to sue,” volunteer lobbyist Jamie Beyer said. “It’s a way to encourage having bees in more locations.”

This isn’t the only bill with a sting, however — Kim Reynolds declared March 14 to be Honeybee Day, and Beyer said beekeeping lobbyists are working to classify bees as livestock in order to exempt bees from sales tax.

More amusement from Iowa’s government

HF 227 would increase “amusement concession” prize values from $100 to $950 to make way for Dave & Buster’s, a popular arcade and sports-bar chain.

Some of the prizes the company gives out include iPads and game consoles that outstrip the previous $100 limit, preventing the chain from opening a store in Iowa. The floor manager for the bill, Rep. Tom Moore, R-Griswold, said in a text to The Daily Iowan that Dave & Buster’s would add 120 new jobs.

An amendment was filed Monday that would apply the new expanded prize value only to locations with 15,000 square feet or more.

Drug-testing horse hair

HF 2439 would give Iowa horses an advantage when competing with non-Iowa horses by giving Iowa horses an extra 3-pound weight limit. The bill would also allow a chemical drug test to be performed from a sample of dog or horse hair. The Iowa Horseman Quarter Racing Association and the Iowa Harness Horseman Association support the measure.

Local governments needed legislative OK for electronic notification

SF 2059 passed the Senate and the House unanimously to allow municipal governments to be able to send out required notifications electronically.

Sen. Mark Lofgren, R-Muscatine, took a cue from Muscatine County Assessor Dale McCrae, who saw an uptick in the number of Muscatine residents who wanted required notifications sent electronically.

“It makes a lot of sense, it just has to do with technology, most younger people,” Lofgren said. “And probably about everybody, anymore, would like to have [notifications sent] electronic[ly].”

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