Hey, Iowans, be careful what you throw away because if Governor Reynolds signs it into law, law enforcement will soon have the ability to search your garbage without a warrant.
Chances are, cops aren't going to just start rummaging through John and Jane Q. Citizen's trash unless they have reason to suspect something suspicious. But according to CBS2, lawmakers in the Iowa House and Senate have both approved a bill overturning a Supreme Court decision that said Iowans have the "reasonable expectation of privacy" when it comes to their garbage.
In 2021, as reported by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, an Iowa man was charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. A warrantless "garbage grab" of his curbside trash container found evidence to convict him. One of the legislative spearheads of the new bill is House Judiciary Committee Chairman Steve Holt of Denison who said in regards to the passage of the bill, known as Senate File (SF) 2296:
turning decades of precedent on its head and alleviating one of law enforcement's most vital tools in solving crimes
The bill received some bipartisan support in the House, passing 56-38 including five democrats in favor and five republicans against the bill.
Some Democrats say it's not constitutional. Clinton representative Mary Lynne Wolfe says it's a slippery slope because, while the wording of the bill does specifically include trash placed in your "front yard", she is concerned with that eventually extending to your driveway, your open garage, and other easily accessible areas on your property.
Republican representative Holt further explains:
I don’t think that’s accurate. The bill very clearly states the garbage has to be in a public accessible area. So we are talking about a curb for pickup, in the garbage truck [and] at the landfill
Meanwhile, Colin Murphy, the defense attorney in that 2021 case objects simply because
The legislature cannot undo a constitutional question that’s already been decided by the Iowa supreme court
He foresees another eventual Supreme Court fight if Governor Kim Reynolds signs off. This trashy bill is on its way to her desk, either way, so whether one thinks it is a great law enforcement tool, or an invasion of privacy and a boon for dumpster divers, prepare to plan your waste disposal habits accordingly.