The everyday impact of the 2013 Iowa legislature

(Radio Iowa News) – The 2013 Iowa legislative session is history, with high-profile actions on education reform and property tax relief. Legislators took other steps that will change the everyday lives of Iowans, several of which deal with cars.

The governor has already approved the new law that will let many Iowans go on-line to renew their driver’s license. That means no more standing in line at the DOT.

In addition, lawmakers voted to change the rules for teen drivers, requiring a full year of supervised driving with a parent or guardian before a teen can get a license to drive alone. In addition, for the first six months of driving alone, a teenager can only have one unrelated passenger along for the ride.

In the waning hours of the session, legislators also passed a bill that preserves the two-cents-per-gallon tax break for ethanol-blended fuels. And finally, if you are one of the few dozen Iowans who own an electric car like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla Roadster, you are going to lose a big break. Today the licensing fee is just $25 for electric cars, but if the governor approves the move, electric car registration fees will be calculated based on its value and weight, just like other vehicles.

If you have a cell phone, legislators have voted to raise the monthly surcharge for 9-1-1 service by 35 cents.

If you are a farmer, the legislature voted to expand liability protection for farm tours. Lawmakers also boosted the number of state workers who inspect livestock confinements. That’s an effort to avoid having the feds come in to regulate those facilities.

If you own a business, the big tax plan that cleared the legislature created a new commercial property tax credit, plus it will roll back commercial property tax assessments by 10 percent over the next two years.

Iowa income taxpayers will get a new credit, worth about $60 this year. About 200,000 low income Iowans will get a bigger break on their income taxes because of an increase in something called the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Finally, if you’ve been convicted of drunk driving three times or found guilty of some other aggravated misdemeanor, you’ll have to submit a DNA sample to authorities. Supporters of that move say it will help solve crimes.