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Bill drafted by Iowa Law student signed by Gov. Branstad

Bill ensures visitation rights of adult children to see ailing parents

A bill researched and drafted by a second-year student at the UI College of Law was signed into law during a public signing by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on Friday, April 24, 2015.

The bill, Senate File 306, is an act relating to communication and visitation between an adult ward and another person.

Senate File 306 was researched and drafted by Iowa Law student Matt Hardin, originally of Des Moines. He served as a legislative extern with the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of a practicum supervised Iowa Law Professor Josephine Gittler.

The bill addresses situations where a guardian tries to unreasonably deny an adult ward’s visitation or communication with other persons such as family or friends, and provides that a ward has the right to such visitation and communication. The bill recognizes that there are situations where it would be in the ward’s best interest for the ward not to have contact with another person. Therefore, the bill provides that a guardian can obtain court approval for deny the ward’s contact with another person if good cause for doing so is shown.

“I've been interested in government and legislation for many years, and my legal education at Iowa has allowed me to play a more active role,” Hardin says. “I'm happy to have helped in the process. It's a testament to the University and the state that a student has the opportunity to have a real impact on our laws. I like that it will help families across the state. We have more and more adults under guardianships, so it's important we get it right for them and their loved ones."

Hardin’s externship is part of a practicum taught by Gittler, which offers student opportunities to work on law and public policy issues with faculty supervision and in collaboration with policy makers.

“Students taking the Practicum get great real world experience that has real world results,” Gittler says. “Matt was able to work with Sen. Rob Hogg, the Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the senate judiciary staff researching and drafting a bill that will become law.”

The Iowa Supreme Court has established the Guardianship and Conservatorship Reform Task Force to make recommendations directed at improving the system.  Gail Agrawal, Dean of the UI College of Law is serving as a member of the Task Force Steering Committee, and Professor Gittler is serving as Coordinator of the Task Force.


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