New laws pop up

BY DI STAFF | JULY 01, 2015 5:00 AM

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Iowa City and cities across the state will see some changes starting today.

From selling growlers — containers that hold craft beer — at grocery or convenience stores to not paying taxes on self-pay laundry services, several bills became law this past legislative session, which ended in June.

New state laws usually take effect on July 1 unless House or Senate members make special provisions. Such was the case with the 10-cent per gallon increase on gasoline and diesel fuel taxes, which went into effect on March 1, as well as the school starting date, which sets public schools to begin on Aug. 23.

Iowa City residents will also see one local ordinance come into play today, too.

Here are some of the changes Iowans will see.

Water price increase

Iowa City residents will now see a small spike in their water bills.

For the second year in a row, there has been a 5 percent increase on water prices.

Iowa City Finance Director Dennis Bockenstedt said this is the second increase the city has seen in the past two years totaling an increase of 10 percentage points, but this comes after several years of decreases for water prices.

The spike is directed to capital improvements, Bockenstedt said, including a large-scale water-structure replacement.

Refillable craft beer containers

A new step for craft brewers begins today.

Legislation will go into effect that will allow businesses that hold a Class “C” alcohol permit, such as convenience and groceries stores, to fill and refill “growlers” — reusable containers — with craft brews that would be consumed off the business premises.

The growler can be no larger than 72 ounces and will not be considered an open container as long as the growler remains unopened.

A person filling the growler also must be at least 18 years old, according to the law.

Iowa isn’t at the forefront of this law.

Several states have implemented similar legislation, including Idaho. Iowa’s southern neighbor, Missouri, had a similar proposal that did not make it past the Legislature.

Funeral protests

Families having a funeral will not have to worry too much about unwanted interruptions.

New legislation that begins today will keep protesters 1,000 feet away from a funeral, memorial, or burial service, as well as a funeral procession.

Previously, demonstrations had to be 500 feet away.

The law came into place after members of the Westboro Baptist Church protested funerals of military-service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Self-pay laundry sales tax

Coin laundry machines will not be subject to sales tax anymore.

Currently, services listed as taxable are subject to state sales tax, such as washing clothes. Under the new law, self-pay washers and dryers will be excluded.

Other laundering services will be taxed.

Revenue for veterans

Veterans now have a surefire way of having money allocated to them.

The Iowa Lottery previously allocated money to veterans based on net profits from specific, veteran-designated games. Now, the newly implemented legislation has simplified that process so $2.5 million in lottery dollars will be allocated to veterans annually.

Snowplow lights

During the winter, drivers will not have to fear colliding with a snowplow.

As part of a pilot project to help reduce traffic accidents, the Iowa Department of Transportation will now need to install flashing blue and white lights on the rear of around 175 snowplow vehicles.

More than 200 traffic crashes occurred in the past five years with snowplow trucks in Iowa.

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