DES MOINES (AP) — The Iowa Senate approved a measure Wednesday that would require people convicted of certain aggravated misdemeanors to submit DNA samples for a federal databank.
Lawmakers passed the bill in a bipartisan vote, 29-20. It now goes to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. The Republican-controlled House approved the bill 79-18 last month.
Under the proposal, adults convicted of such crimes as aggravated misdemeanor assault and theft would submit a DNA sample.
The law would not apply to convictions that happen before its passage. Under current Iowa law, only convicted felons and sexual offenders are required to submit DNA samples.
Samples would be added to the federal DNA database, called the National DNA Index, which contains more than 10 million offender profiles. About 77,400 of those are from Iowa.
Bill sponsor Sen. Steven Sodders, D-State Center, noted that aggravated misdemeanors by Iowa standards are considered felonies in other states.
“A lot of people we charge with felonies plead down to an aggravated misdemeanor. ... It doesn't make the assault on that victim any less of a felony, but that's what happens in our system,” he said.
In Iowa, aggravated misdemeanors are punishable by up to two years in prison.
As of 2011, five states do DNA profiling for numerous misdemeanors, 22 for burglary arrests and 25 for sex crime arrests.
Sodders amended the bill to exempt deferred judgment cases and misdemeanors related to hazardous waste, agricultural production and gambling. Traffic offenses are also exempt unless a person has three operating while intoxicated convictions in 12 years.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said collecting the DNA samples would help authorities solve cases. But the American Civil Liberties Union opposes it and said it's an excessive and invasive use of the practice.
Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, voted against the bill for similar reasons, saying it violates privacy rights.
“That sample can be revisited in the future to reveal who knows what kind of information,” he said. “If solving past crimes is our only goal, then what stops us from taking DNA samples from those who are not suspects in those crimes? Why not take DNA samples from everyone?”
Senators rejected an effort by Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, to amend the bill to require samples from convicted juveniles and people in the U.S. illegally who are stopped by police.
“There are many instances when we track citizens of Iowa because they submit to DNA testing, but we have little opportunity to track those in state illegally,” he said. “As opposed to facing justice in Iowa they will go back to their country of origin.”
His amendment was ruled irrelevant to the subject matter of the bill.
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