DES MOINES — Those who intentionally damage or try to damage infrastructure deemed critical to the safety and economic well-being of Iowans could face a criminal charge carrying a 25-year prison term and a fine of up to $100,000 under a bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday and sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Senate File 2235, which passed 35-13, would pertain to acts of sabotage against infrastructure or facilities related to telecommunications and broadband, electricity, water, pipeline, wastewater treatment, energy, transportation and hazardous materials, along with associated systems that are "crucial lifeline systems."
Sen. Tom Shipley, R-Nodaway, the bill’s floor manager, said the new criminal offense — a Class B felony — is not intended to impede legal, peaceful protests, but to target terrorist threats.
“This bill protects the kinds of protests that Dr. King taught us all about. Those people are protected. But it goes after those bad dudes that would cause harm to the least among us,” Shipley said.
An amendment offered by Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, clarifying the measure would not be a prohibition against constitutionally protected protests was rejected on a party-line vote.
Many viewed the bill as a response to recent protests against an underground oil pipeline across Iowa built by a Texas-based company.
That includes Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa, which was among the groups opposed to the project.
“While it’s sad that so many lawmakers were again duped by Energy Transfer Partners, the silver lining is that Bold Iowa’s coalition of environmentalists, landowners and farmers came together to work with labor in a common cause,” Fallon said Tuesday. “We’re going to build on that.”
In other action, senators voted 48-0 a bill to stop most “food shaming” in schools. It returns to the House.
House File 2467 establish guidelines for dealing with parents who owe money for school lunches.
Schools will be prohibited from identifying students whose parents owe money for school meals. In some cases, schools have required those students to sit at tables separate from classmates, do chores to pay for meals or not participate in school activities, lawmakers said.