Laws have changed

Monday, July 7, 2008

July 1st was the day that many state laws went into effect.

One new law has some Iowans, smoking -- meaning angry, not literally smoking because that would be a violation of the law.

The new smoking ban is easily the most controversial measure passed by the Iowa Legislature this past session. The measure approved by the Legislature bans smoking in bars and restaurants, but allows casinos to continue to allow smoking in gambling areas.

With the new law, Iowa becomes the 23rd state to put restrictions on indoor smoking in public places.

The state also begins a three-year, $25 million plan to expand health care to the 53,000 children in the state who lack coverage. It will spend $4.8 million to broaden coverage in the first year, and $10 million in each of the following two years.

New laws guarding against identity theft also went into effect this week. The first would require businesses that possess personal information about consumers to notify them if there's a breach of security. The second allows consumers to notify credit rating agencies they want a freeze on giving out their credit information.

A one-cent statewide sales tax for school infrastructure is now in effect, replacing a local option sales tax that was in effect in all 99 counties.

Used oil filters are now banned from landfills, and folks will need to recycle them. The Iowa Lottery also gets the authority to create two new games, with the $3 million they produce each year earmarked for a trust fund paying for programs for veterans.

Lawsuits are likely to be filed against the smoking ban, charging discrimination with casinos being exempt from the ban. Proponents of the ban say the suits will not have any merit and predict the anger over the ban will pass, much like the state law requiring seatbelt use.

Time will tell. It always does.