A roundup of state government and Capitol news items for Thursday:
SAFE HAVEN LAW: Officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services said Thursday they have used the state’s safe haven procedures for the 28th time since the law went into effect. A newborn girl was born July 6 at an Iowa hospital, and the infant was released to the custody of the agency, DHS officials said in a new release. According to the law, a court hearing to terminate parental rights will be held within a month. Specific details are withheld in order to protect the identity of the parents and child. “Under the safe haven law, parents in crisis are protected from prosecution for abandonment, allowing them to safely leave an infant at a hospital or health care facility, no questions asked,” DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven said. “Most importantly, the life and health of newborns is protected.” Under Iowa’s safe haven law, parents have the option to safely hand over custody of a baby age 14 days or younger without fear of prosecution for abandonment. The parent or an authorized representative is allowed to leave the newborn at a hospital or health care facility and can remain anonymous. The safe haven law was approved in the wake of a high-profile case in 2001 involving a teen mother in eastern Iowa who killed her home-delivered newborn. Infants who are safe haven babies are placed with currently approved foster or adoptive families.
GAS PRICES: The price of retail gasoline in Iowa rose 5 cents a gallon this week to $2.19, according to a report issued by the state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Nationally, prices at service station pumps increased by 3 cents to $2.26 per gallon. The AAA motor club reports that gas prices in Iowa are 2 cents a gallon lower than a year ago. Retail diesel fuel prices in Iowa this week were up 2 cents to a statewide average of $2.36 per gallon, which was unchanged from a year ago. The current Iowa diesel average is 8 cents a gallon lower than the national average of $2.44. On the heating fuels side, natural gas prices in Iowa are up 5 cents at $2.99/MMbtu, according to state officials.
— Times Bureau