There is a purpose and reason to every law we have. Yes, some are outdated, but the new laws that get passed at a state and federal level all come with reason. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds passed a slew of new laws and one of those new laws allows police in Iowa to search your garbage without a search warrant.

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Have you ever seen someone go through your garbage that's been set out for garbage pick-up day? It's weird because it feels like it is illegal for someone to do that. You pay the city for the bins and it's your trash. Plus, you know what you throw away and you probably think to yourself, "why would someone want to look through my garbage?"

If you're a criminal but you put out your garbage on the curb every week to be picked up, I won't recommend you hide evidence in your trash anymore, especially now in the state of Iowa.

On Thursday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed 26 bills into law. These bills range from a bill for an act relating to the transfer of ownership of certain foreign vehicles to a bill for an act relating to the sale of travel insurance. But the newest law that stuck out was the new law about garbage.

Introduced and place on the calendar back on February 16, 2022, Senate File 2296 was voted on in the Iowa Senate on February 22 and passed by a vote of 49-0. It then went to the Iowa House and was voted on by the House on March 22. SF 2296 passed the Iowa House with a vote of 58-36.

On Thursday, April 21, Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 2296 into law. Now, police can search your garbage that's out for pick-up whenever they want and take whatever they want to be used as evidence.

Senate File 2296, which is now section 16 of Chapter 808 of the Iowa Code, states as follows:

1. It is the public policy of this state that a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in garbage placed outside of the person’s residence or waste collection in a publicly accessible area.

2. A city or county shall only adopt an ordinance or a regulation concerning waste management and sanitation for the purposes of promoting public health and cleanliness. An ordinance or a regulation adopted by a city or county shall not be construed by a person to create a reasonable expectation of privacy in garbage placed outside of the person’s residence or waste collection in a publicly accessible area.

3. Garbage placed outside of a person’s residence for waste collection in a publicly accessible area shall be deemed abandoned property and shall not be considered to be constitutionally protected papers or effects of the person.

4. A peace officer may conduct a search and may seize garbage placed outside of a person’s residence for waste collection in a publicly accessible area without making an application for a search warrant.

Really the last two sections are the most important parts.

In section three, anything you throw away, including files with bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc., can be confiscated by Iowa law enforcement to be used and the peace officer doesn't need a search warrant to find and keep them.

Section four allows Iowa peace officers to go through your trash when they want. They don't need to call a judge or anyone above them to find evidence in your trash. They can pull up, take a look, and leave.

The lessons to learn here:

  1. If you're a criminal, your garbage is a terrible place to hide things.
  2. Don't throw away important information to be picked up by the city. People can take it.

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