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Bullying, fireworks bills survive Iowa deadline

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Bills surviving Friday’s legislative deadline include measures that would crack down on bullying in schools, allow the sale of fireworks and regulate the use of unmanned aerial drones.

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Many other proposals won’t be considered this year, such as Democrat-backed bill to crack down on wage theft, a Republican effort to outlaw telemedicine abortion and the Democrats’ proposal to give schools more money for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015.

The twice-a-session deadlines help legislators narrow the number of bills under consideration, and bills with state appropriations are not subject to the deadlines. The first so-called funnel deadline was in February.

The anti-bullying measure still on the table has been a priority of Gov. Terry Branstad.

Another measure would change a current drunken-driving law allowing people to begin driving more quickly than under current law if they install an ignition lock device.

Regarding the fireworks bill, Iowa only allows sparklers and other non-explosive novelties, as do neighbors Illinois and Minnesota. Other abutting states, including Missouri and Nebraska, sell fireworks.

A bill requiring schools to test for radon gas is still under consideration but amended to only require schools to report to the state whether they have done the testing.

A bill that makes the unlawful use of unmanned aerial drones a violation of the state’s trespassing law also was changed after business lobbyist pushed to ease the language.

A priority of House Republicans appears to have been left behind: A measure that would make it illegal to prescribe or dispense abortion medication by remote video conferencing.

“That’s a bill Senate Republicans are strongly behind and one that we’re disappointed that is still not going to move forward,” said Sen. Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny.

Certain bills can be pulled from the discarded pile by legislative leaders through various procedural maneuvers, and a group of Senate Republicans has planned a news conference for Monday to pressure Senate Democrats to revive the bill.

Meanwhile, Democrats criticized the GOP for failure to consider several education bills, including a 6 percent increase in funding for schools for 2015.

“The House majority party does not care about our kids,” declared Rep. Sharon Steckman, a Mason City Democrat, at a Thursday news conference.