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CAPITOL DIGEST: Bill to block internet pornography fails
CAPITOL DIGEST

CAPITOL DIGEST: Bill to block internet pornography fails

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The Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines.

A House Commerce subcommittee declined to advance a bill to block pornography on internet-connected devices and create a $5 adult entertainment fee to fund efforts to address human trafficking.

Communications companies questioned the constitutionality of the proposal from Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, as well as the logistical challenges that would be created if HF 288 became law.

Representatives of ATT, T-Mobile and CenturyLink pointed out that apps are available to block certain kinds of content. The use of those apps is at the discretion of parents, for example, rather than the internet provider.

“It would make us the policepersons for content and turn us into criminals if we don’t enforce it enough,” said Mike St. Clair, representing the Iowa Communications Alliance of about 130 small broadband providers. “We don’t monitor content and don’t wish to be in that business.”

Porn addiction is a real and serious issue, Daniel Sunne of the Family Leader said. While HF 288, as written, has problems, he hoped the bill could be a vehicle to address the problem.

None of the three subcommittee members signed off on the bill. Rep. Jon Jacobsen, R-Council Bluffs, said that just as the state regulates gambling because of the societal costs of addictive behavior, he would like the Legislature to address the problems that arise from pornography.

“I’m not content to say we’re doing nothing,” he said, “but we have to approach it in a constitutional way.”

HOUSING BILL MOVES: Gov. Kim Reynolds’ affordable housing plan got a thumbs up from a House Economic Growth subcommittee Wednesday.

Lobbyists for investors, housing trust funds, local governments, developers, bankers, economic development groups and faith-based organizations applauded HF 178 as a comprehensive approach to meeting low-income and workforce housing needs, especially in rural Iowa. It’s estimated Iowa will need an additional 47,000 housing units by 2030.

It would create up to $15 million annually in new tax credits for developers of low-income housing as well as remove the $3 million cap on revenue for local housing trust funds — allowing more money to flow to those agencies. Other provisions of the bill would double workforce housing tax incentives from $25 million to $50 million for four years, with $20 million set aside for small cities.

Lobbyists suggested a variety of tweaks they said would make the bill more attractive to groups developing housing, including expanding the eviction moratorium for natural disasters to include economic disasters.

The bill next goes to the Ways and Means Committee. A Senate version has been approved by that chamber’s Local Government Committee.

PRESCRIPTION PRICE TRANSPARENCY: The House Commerce Committee approved without discussion HSB 46, a prescription transparency bill that would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to file an annual report disclosing the wholesale acquisition cost for drugs sold in Iowa.

If the price of a prescription drug sold in Iowa costing at least $100 for a 30-day supply increases 40 percent or more over three years or 15 percent in a calendar year, the manufacturer must file a report with the Insurance Commissioner.

HUNTING/TRAPPING REVIEW: Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources have slated an online meeting later this month to review hunting and trapping seasons and to consider possible changes to Iowa’s rules and regulations.

“We want people to attend this meeting, listen to the seasons’ reviews, ask questions and hear directly from our staff,” said Todd Bishop, chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Bureau. “Part of the meeting will be devoted to discussing potential rule changes and collecting feedback as we work through the rules process.” The virtual meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 23. There is a limit of 1,000 attendees. Sign up in advance at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qfuqsqz8jG9TAEH20gv500Jo_VUSq5D8X. A confirmation email will be sent containing information about joining the meeting. Comments collected will be considered along with other related comments received by DNR officials before proposing changes to hunting and trapping rules and regulations. Proposed rules will be presented to the Natural Resource Commission during a regular public meeting for consideration and additional public comment.

THE ROYALTIES TREATMENT: Representatives of performing rights societies, such as BMI and ASCAP, would be required to make an appointment to meet with proprietors of establishments for the purpose of discussing contracts for the payments of music royalties under HSB 180, which was approved by the House Commerce Committee 15-6.

Lawmakers said they were responding to reports — as well as personal experience — with employees of the societies who have been rude and threatening to them and their employees.

Chairwoman Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, whose family operates a restaurant, said representatives of the groups have harassed employees. Rep. Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant, said he’s had similar experiences with the societies’ representatives being rude and asking questions of employees about matters they are not prepared to address.

It’s not a question whether royalties should be paid, they said, but rather how the societies’ representatives conduct themselves.

However, Rep. Charlie McConkey, D-Council Bluffs, said he’s never had that treatment from the societies and didn’t believe there is a problem.

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