By Rep. Jon Thorup
This week marked the 50th day of the 100-day legislative session. The first funnel deadline has passed and the second funnel is coming up soon. Debate is picking up in both chambers as the House and Senate work to advance priority legislation.
Better Information Builds Safer Work zones
Every year work zones pop-up all-over Iowa as soon as the weather starts to warm up. Preparing in advance to make those work zone as safe and efficient as possible is no easy feat. Designing a safe work zone is much more than just putting out some cones. There is a lot of data to analyze and best practices to follow to make sure a work zone keeps you moving toward your destination. One of the key factors in a safe, efficient work zone is consistency. As a driver, you need to know what to expect when you see that “road work ahead” sign. In an effort to make work zones more consistent and centralize work zone best practices, the Iowa Department of Transportation has gathered information together in a Work Zone Reference Library. This online ‘toolbox’ will help Iowa DOT, county and city engineers, and our industry partners ensure each work zone is set up as consistently, effectively, and safely as possible. The website is a one-stop-shop for work zone information that can be used by any agency that needs to set up a roadway work zone. It was created by an Iowa DOT group that is working to integrate proven best practices to help improve how our transportation system functions. The reference library brings together information on all aspects related to work zones. Wes Musgrove, who headed up the group that designed the library, said, “This tool has already proven to be very useful to our own Iowa DOT folks, but we intentionally included information useful to our contracting partners and county and local agencies, too.” As you would expect, the library is a repository for a number of manuals and handbooks related to work zones, putting all of Iowa’s work zone resources and documentation in one easy-to-use location. Musgrove said, “From design manuals to inspection tools to the flagger handbook, the library is a resource that will provide information for any group to set up and operate a safer more efficient work zone.” Planning the safest and most efficient work zone requires looking at elements like traffic projections. The lane closure planning tool is an ever-changing map that uses data to show work zone designers forecasted traffic levels on specific roadways. “When a work zone is in the planning stages,” said Musgrove, “We want to make data-driven decisions to reduce the impact on traffic. Using this tool, we can get a better idea of when traffic levels might be lighter so we can schedule the work to be done with fewer disruptions for travelers.” Setting work zones to impact the fewest number of travelers will not only reduce disruptions, but it will also improve safety. Traffic Safety Engineer Willy Sorenson said, “Data shows the most common type of crash in a work zone is a rear-end crash due to traffic backups when a lane of traffic is closed. Using the data we have gathered for specific locations, our goal is to only allow lane closures during times when backups are minimized.” Another element highlighted in the library is the Smart Work Zone Deployment initiative. This multi-state research project is investigating better ways of controlling traffic through work zones. The primary objective is to promote and support research and outreach activities that focus on innovative policies, processes, tools, and products to implement cutting-edge technology in all types of work zones.
Explaining HF 2502
Last Thursday the House passed HF 2502 which ensures firearms laws are consistent across the state and prevents cities and counties from illegally infringing on the rights of law-abiding Iowans to have firearms. During the debate in committee and on the floor. There seems to be a general misunderstanding about what the bill will allow and the restrictions it puts in place.
Claim: Grenades will be allowed in Court Houses Fact: This claim is unfounded. Grenades are federally regulated and illegal to own in almost all cases. No Iowan will legally be entering Court Houses or any facility with a grenade.
Claim: Bump stocks will be unregulated Fact: Bump Stocks have been federally banned March of 2019. This means that no one can sell, own or use a bump stock on their firearm. There are no exceptions to this federal ban. Any cities attempting to ban bump stocks are doing so unnecessarily. Because Bump stocks are already ban by federal law.
Claim: HF 2502 attacks local control Fact: Political subdivisions have never had the right to regulate firearms. Iowa law is clear that authority lies with the state. The bill has language to clarify that the power to regulate firearms accessories is also a state power. Firearms accessories can be anything from a scope, to a legally owned and registered suppressor, or even a different size magazine. If each city or county regulated these items, Iowans would never know where their accessories are legal or illegal and would unknowingly be subject to confiscation and arrest. A scope in Hamilton County could be legal but criminal to possess in Johnson county. A uniform set of laws helps keep all Iowans safe.
Claim: Property Owners can’t regulate weapons on their property Fact: Property Owners can still regulate the possession of weapons on their property. However, if firearms are banned then individuals must be screened for weapons and armed security must be provided at the facility. Iowans should know they are well protected even when an institution bans weapons in specific locations.
Claim: HF 2502 allows guns on school grounds Fact: Nothing in HF 2502 changes the laws on firearms in schools. Iowa code 724.4B clearly bans firearms on school grounds with a few notable exceptions that have been in code for a significant amount of time. Any claims that this allows unregulated carrying of weapons on school grounds are false.
Learn about Iowa’s State Parks on PBS
Recently, Iowa PBS aired an hour-long special, titled Iowa Outdoors: 100th Anniversary of Iowa State Parks, highlighting the historical significant and natural beauty of Iowa state parks. The special can be found by going to http://www.iowapbs.org
Forum Schedule and Events
Legislative Forum with Senator Sinclair March 21, 2020
*City Hall, Monroe, at 10 a.m. *Sprint Car Hall of Fame Museum, Knoxville, at 12:30 p.m.
In the interim, if you would like to contact me regarding any matter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org