The 2021 Iowa legislative session brought many changes to Iowa’s laws. Here are a few that may be of interest:
Child care assistance
Once the law goes into effect, which will be sometime before or on July 1, 2022, you will be able to keep government funded child care assistance for your family even as your income increases. The current upper limit on family gross monthly income is 145% of the federal poverty level for children needing basic care. That amount will increase to 250% of the federal poverty level. As your income increases, you will have to pay more towards child care costs, but you will still receive some assistance.
Iowa ABLE accounts
Iowa set up a savings plan for persons with disabilities a few years ago. Money in the plan does not count for some federal benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. Iowa ABLE allows you to save money without being taxed on it. You can take it out tax free if used for qualified disability expenses. This year there were a few changes:
• Funds remaining in an Iowa ABLE account cannot be claimed by Iowa Medicaid.
• Estate recovery cannot claim the money.
The Department of Revenue collects some of the court debt owed. Instead of allowing the Department of Revenue to impose a fee on top of the court debt owed, the Department will receive 15% of the amount collected and assigned to the Department. This section goes into effect on January 1, 2022. If you make a payment on a court debt between January 1, 2021 and January 1, 2022 which includes any portion applied to the department’s processing fee, that payment shall be reapplied as if there was no processing fee.
Civil claims for false reporting to law enforcement
Falsely reporting to law enforcement that someone committed a crime (knowing that to be false) is a crime. Under a new law, if you were wrongly accused, you can bring a civil case to recover damages against the person who falsely reported a crime.
Civil remedy for disclosure of private, sexually explicit images
If someone has shared a sexually explicit image which you didn’t want to have shared, you may be able to sue them for damages. You must be able to show that:
• the person who disclosed knew you didn’t consent or recklessly disregarded that you didn’t consent,
• you were identifiable in the image, and
• the image was private.
Just because you initially consented to creation of the image doesn’t necessarily mean that you consented to a later disclosure of the image. There are various exceptions for medical education, legal proceeding or law enforcement. In addition, a person responsible for care of a child is not liable for a disclosure or threatened disclosure of an intimate image of the child. There are statutory damages available.
Criminal offense for defrauding a drug or alcohol test
It is now a crime to attempt to defraud a drug or alcohol test by selling, using, or possessing urine additives, synthetic urine, another person’s urine, or one’s own urine expelled or withdrawn prior to the collection of the sample. This applies to tests done by a private or public employer.
Criminal offense for passing or sharing winning lottery tickets to avoid state offset
If you owe a debt to the state, don’t give away or share a winning lottery ticket in order to avoid the state taking the winnings. This could subject you to criminal charges. The level of charge depends on how much of an offset for debt is being avoided but includes both felony and misdemeanor charges.
Laws prohibiting landlords from refusing to take Section 8 vouchers
A few cities passed laws prohibiting landlords from refusing to take Section 8 vouchers. This bill says those laws cannot be enforced after January 1, 2023. Other portions of those laws may stay in effect.
Rent Reimbursement Program
If you are a renter and are 65 or older or disabled, you can be reimbursed for some portion of your rent. (See https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/rent-reimbursement-and-property-tax-credits-f for a more information about this program). This program is currently administered by the Iowa Department of Revenue. It will be transferred to the Iowa Department of Human Services by January 1, 2023.