Gov. Kim Reynolds signs “sabotage” bill into law

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Coverage by The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, April 17, 2018

Any person who intentionally damages or tries to damage infrastructure deemed critical to the safety and economic well-being of Iowans could face a criminal charge carrying a 25-year prison term and a fine of up to $100,000effective July 1 under legislation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The bill, Senate File 2235, which was among 11 measures that won gubernatorial approval, would pertain to acts of sabotage committed against critical infrastructure or facilities related to telecommunications and broadband, electricity, water, pipeline, wastewater treatment, energy, transportation and hazardous materials, along with associated systems that are “crucial lifeline systems” that affect Iowans.

Supporters say the new criminal offense is not intended to impede legal, peaceful and legitimate protests but rather targets such things as terrorist threats that could crash critical infrastructure, disrupt the Iowa economy and imperil lives.

Many viewed the bill as a response to recent protests against an underground oil pipeline across Iowa placed by a Texas-based company.

“It’s no surprise that Gov. Reynolds signed the pipeline company’s bill,” said Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa, one of the groups opposed to the pipeline.

“As an elected official in Clarke County, Reynolds stood with big developers against farmers and landowners fighting to protect their land from eminent domain for a lake,” he said Tuesday. “By signing this bill, Reynolds makes it clear that her loyalty is to Big Oil, not farmers, landowners and our environment.”