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DES MOINES — Any person who intentionally damages or tries 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 effective July 1 under legislation signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday.

The bill, Senate File 2235, which was among 11 measures that won gubernatorial approval, would pertain to acts of sabotage committed against critical 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" that affect Iowans.

Supporters say the new criminal offense — a Class B felony carrying a fine of $85,000 to $100,000 upon conviction — is not intended to impede legal, peaceful and legitimate protests, but rather was intended o target things such as terrorist threats that could crash critical infrastructure, disrupt the Iowa economy and put lives in peril.

Many viewed the bill as a response to recent protests against an underground oil pipeline across Iowa placed by a Texas-based company – which included Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa, one of groups opposed to the project.

“It’s no surprise that Governor Reynolds signed the pipeline company’s bill,” Fallon said Tuesday. “As an elected official in Clarke County, Reynolds stood with big developers against farmers and landowners fighting to protect their land from eminent domain for a lake. By signing this bill, Reynolds makes it clear that her loyalty is to Big Oil, not farmers, landowners and our environment.”

Also Tuesday, Reynolds signed legislation intended to stop most "food shaming" in schools.

House File 2467 will establish guidelines for schools dealing with parents who owe money for school lunches. It will prohibit schools from posting names or otherwise identifying students whose parents owe money for school meals. In some cases, schools have required those students to sit together at tables separate from classmates, do chores to pay for meals or not participate in school activities, according to lawmakers.

Another bill receiving a gubernatorial nod directs the Iowa Department of Education to establish a dyslexia task force was approved by the House 97-0 Thursday and sent to the governor. Senate File 2360 directs the task force to submit a report regarding its findings and recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly by Nov. 24, 2019.

The task force will include representatives from the Iowa Reading Research Center, Iowa Association of School Boards, a college educator with expertise in dyslexia, a teacher, a reading specialist, a school principal, someone with dyslexia and a psychologist or speech pathologist.

Other bill’s signed into law Tuesday included:

House File 637: an Act relating to state government operations concerning background checks and investigations of employees of the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the credit union division, eliminating the technology advisory council, and including effective date provisions.

House File 2258: an Act relating to the uses of remitted sales tax revenue and moneys from the flood mitigation fund under the flood mitigation program and including applicability provisions

House File 2277: an Act relating to the inspection and examination of certain public records under the custody of the state archivist or a county registrar.

House File 2371: an Act exempting the state and municipalities from liability for claims involving honeybees on public property.

House File 2480: an Act concerning manufactured homes by creating a manufactured housing program fund and providing eligibility under the home ownership assistance program for military members for the purchase of manufactured homes.

Senate File 449: an Act relating to the installation of cattle guards by landowners along certain streets or highways, and including effective date provisions.

Senate File 475: an Act relating to educational programs developed or administered by the Department or State Board of Education, school districts, or accredited nonpublic schools, and to school-age children’s health screenings, providing for or relating to fees, and including effective date provisions.

Senate File 2318: an Act relating to the issuance of high school credit for satisfactory completion of high school-level units of instruction.

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Statehouse reporter for The Courier

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