A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items for Thursday:
FIREARM CHANGE: State senators are looking to modify a firearms law they passed last year to expand its provisions to renters and hired hands. Iowa landowners now are allowed to carry a loaded firearm while operating a snowmobile or an ATV on their property. Off-road vehicle operators on someone else’s property are required to place unloaded shotguns or rifles in a case. In addition, Iowans with a permit to carry a handgun would be allowed to possess a pistol if it is secured in a holster similar to those used by law enforcement officers. Another provision of the new law requires snowmobilers and ATV riders to get off the vehicle to shoot. Senate File 227, which cleared a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Thursday, would extend the provisions to Iowans who rent property or who work as a laborer as part of an animal agriculture operation. The bill now goes to full committee for consideration.
NATURAL GAS PRICES: Moderating winter weather is affecting Iowans’ heating bills in a favorable way. The state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s weekly fuel price report indicated that natural gas prices fell 18 cents this week, closing at $2.86/MMbtu. Likewise, propane prices were down a penny from last week’s report, with a statewide average of $1.28 per gallon. Home heating prices were the same as last week, ending with a statewide average of $2.03. On the motor fuels side, the price of regular unleaded gasoline averaged $2.32 a gallon across Iowa, according to AAA. That was 3 cents higher than a week ago and 73 cents higher than a year ago. The national average on Tuesday was $2.28 a gallon, up a penny from last week’s price. Retail diesel fuel prices in Iowa were down a penny from last week’s price with a statewide average of $2.46 a gallon. A year ago, diesel prices averaged $1.87 in Iowa.
NOMINATIONS SOUGHT: Iowa Women's Hall of Fame highlights women's heritage and recognizes their contributions. It was established by the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women in 1975. As of 2016, 168 women have been inducted into the hall. The Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice recognizes and honors the accomplishments of Cristine Wilson, first chair of the commission, and is awarded selectively to an individual who has made significant contributions to the principles of equality and justice in the state of Iowa. So far, 21 men and women have received the medal. For more information, contact Kristen Corey at 515-281-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUTDOOR WOMEN: The 2017 spring Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshop will be April 28-30 at Honey Creek Resort State Park in Moravia. Becoming an Outdoors-Woman is an international program aimed primarily at women but is an opportunity for anyone 18 years or older to learn outdoor skills usually associated with hunting and fishing but useful for many outdoor pursuits. Workshop courses include fishing, firearms, foraging, outdoor cooking, boater education, shotguns, turkey hunting, backpacking and even stand-up paddle-boarding. Participation is limited to 84. The workshop cost is $260 for a single occupancy room or $215 for a double occupancy room for registration by March 26. To register or to learn more about the workshop, go to iowadnr.gov/bow.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It's nice to see fresh faces come into the room because we're all starting to wear on each other. I was immediately told by a fresh face that I've grown a beard overnight, and I guess I have. I feel like I've aged." — Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, commenting from the Senate floor Thursday after an all-night debate at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines.
— Times Bureau