Linn County's legislative worries

Linn County's legislative worries

The Linn County Board of Supervisors is expressing concern over two bills making their way through the Iowa Legislature.

The first is House File 517, a bill that would drastically expand gun rights.

County officials are worried how the bill will impact weapons in the County Courthouse.

The bill would allow people to carry permitted weapons in common areas, however, according to Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner a county ordinance would allow security to continue blocking weapons at the door.

“Custody hearings, divorce hearings, certainly there are criminal trials that can be contentious as well so we feel that there is legitimate need to restrict weapons in the courthouse,” says Gardner.

The proposal would also allow anyone that feels their right to carry has been violated to sue the county.

Gardner and the Board worry this could open the door for people to make a political point.

“You could have people statewide literally go from courthouse to courthouse trying to carry weapons in and anytime that they believe they are an aggrieved party they could file suit against the Board of Supervisors,” says Gardner.

Supervisor Brent Oleson says security of the courthouse and the people working there is a top priority.

“We're going to continue to do that within the conscripts of the law but the law needs to be workable and we're always going to err on the side of safety.”

Supervisors also discussed the controversial Voter ID bill, House file 516.

The Bill would require voters to show a state issued photo ID or a voter ID card at the polls.

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller says the would disenfranchise voters, especially minorities and the elderly.

The county would also be required to have e-poll books to accommodate the new system.

“E-poll books seem to slow voters down and create lines, unnecessary lines, versus someone just coming in signing a register and getting a ballot and voting,” says Miller.

The new equipment and new training will likely mean a big price tag paid with local tax money.

“That's going to cost us $400,000 plus $75,000 per year to maintain it but they provide us no money to pay for it so that's a tax increase,” says Oleson.

Both bills have passed the House, now county leaders hope their concerns will be heard in the Senate before final versions of the bills are put to a vote.

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