Card skimmers, telehealth services and tax reform



District 11, R-Storm Lake

Chairman of the Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee

Anyone sitting in the gallery observing the House in session this week may have wondered, “is this how the Legislative process actually works?” With this being the first week after the first funnel, we were approving House Files at a pretty good pace with some bills taking only three or four minutes to complete from start to finish. The bulk of the work on any bill is done in sub-committee and committee debate where the bill is analyzed and perfected. A prime example of one of the bills that moved off the floor this rapidly is the “code editor’s bill.” While this bill contains 147 sections, some actions are as mundane as adding a comma or changing one word somewhere in Iowa code.

One of the more interesting bills of the week dealt with a device called a card skimmer. A card skimmer is a device a person places over the card slot on a gas pump, an ATM, a grocery store checkout, or anyplace else where you can use your credit or debit card. This device records and stores all of your card information when you insert your card. The gas pump works as it normally would and you will have no indication that your card information has been stolen. Later, the individual will come by and retrieve the card skimmer, download the data and do as they wish with your card information. House File 2199 creates an aggravated misdemeanor for the possession of a card skimmer and a class C felony for the second offense. While this bill is a remedy for a crime that has already been committed, everyone can protect themselves from becoming a victim of this crime by being aware and proactive. If you see something, say something. If there is something over the card slot that has not been present before, or if something does not look right about the machine, contact management or the authorities.

Other legislation that is under consideration in the House includes HF 2364 that deals with a new health benefit plan. This bill clarifies that a health benefit plan, sponsored by a nonprofit agricultural organization is not insurance or subject to insurance regulations. Health benefit plans must be administered by a domestic entity registered with the insurance commissioner. This third-party administrator must have a history of providing healthcare services. The nonprofit agricultural organization is required to file with the insurance commissioner certifying they meet all requirements. HF 2364 passed out of committee by a vote of 16-7 and is waiting to be considered by the entire House of Representatives.

House File 2305 deals with telehealth. Many parts of Iowa have limited access to a doctor. Few general practitioners and even fewer specialists in the state effectively results in long travel times and expensive transportation costs for many Iowans. Faced with these barriers, often times, Iowans may end up going without the care they need. One possible solution is telehealth. Telehealth allows long distance patient/clinician contact and care. It is a practice that would allow an Iowan to speak with, visually see, and be treated by a doctor utilizing audio visual technology. HF 2305 would require telehealth care to be covered by healthcare insurance, just like health insurance would cover a face to face visit between a patient and their healthcare professional. It has passed out of committee unanimously.

This week the Senate released their version of tax reform, a comprehensive 138 page bill addressing the state’s income tax structure. The House is in the process of evaluating this plan alongside the Governor’s plan and is committed to the long and arduous process of rewriting Iowa’s tax code. Our primary goals are a system that is fair, simple and taxes our citizens at the lowest rate possible in order to maintain the services of the state.

Please join me at my upcoming forum on March 17, at 10 a.m. at King’s Pointe in Storm Lake.