Judiciary Bills Progress

Both the House and Senate are continuing to evaluate important judiciary bills this week. The House is in the process of taking up Senate Files that survived the second funnel. Both chambers appear focused on important issues like human trafficking and kidnapping, as well as issues involving the courts. Below are noteworthy bills both the House and Senate continuing to deliberate:

Human Trafficking (Senate File 2311). Both chambers have passed legislation focused on stopping human trafficking.  On Wednesday, the House addressed SF 2311 and made changes to reflect House priorities. As amended by the House, the senate file will give county attorneys discretion in prosecuting underage prostitution cases and allow persons under the age of 18 to be referred to the Department of Human Services for help, instead of serving jail time. The bill also increases the charge for pimping a minor to a class “C” felony.  A person convicted of a class “C” felony could serve up to 10 years in prison and pay a fine between $1,000 and $10,000.  The original senate file, approved by the Senate, also focused on helping minors forced into prostitution, however the senate file created a fund the House chose not to include. Both versions extend the statute of limitations for sexual exploitation of a minor from 3 to 10 years after the victim turns 18, or 3 years from when an indictment is sought after a person is identified through DNA, whichever is later. Additionally, both versions of the bill clarify what it means to entice a minor including specific types of contact and communication.
 
Kidnapping (Senate File 2201). The issue of kidnapping minors has taken center stage in Iowa after the tragic death of Kathlynn Shepard. The House and Senate have been working on legislation to better protect Iowa children from pedophiles and kidnappers. Several weeks ago, the House passed HF 2253 which offered several solutions to the problem, the Senate chose not to bring up the bill, but did send over their own bill focused on kidnapping, Senate File 2201. This week the House amended SF 2201 and sent it back to the senate for further consideration.  As amended, SF 2201 makes kidnapping a person younger than 18, a charge of kidnapping in the 2nd degree, in most cases. A person convicted of 2nd degree kidnapping faces up to 25 years in prison.  Additionally, a person who is charged for a second time with 3rd degree kidnapping will also face a 2nd degree kidnapping charge.  The House amendment adds a new category of sentences to certain violent and sexually based crimes against children.  Those who commit these egregious crimes will not be eligible for early release and will serve their complete sentence, as opposed to shortened sentences which are very common in Iowa’s prison system.    
 
Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators (Senate File 2211). This bill expands the definition of “convicted” for use in determining who is a sexually violent predator.  Courts will now have greater access to records and may take in to consideration previous convictions in this state and others in these specific cases. Additionally, the bill extends the time period the Department of Human Services has to prepare a release plan for a person who has been committed as a sexually violent predator from 30 to 60 days.


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