Those who oppose House File 605 argue that the reaction to the Salle decision is overstated and therefore the bill is unnecessary or at the very least should be amended to remove the language that explicitly defines the intent. Question: If we removed the explicit intent of the bill, what would be the point of passing it?
Here’s the reality of the situation: If nothing more is done (or nothing of substance is done) private landowners will no longer allow anyone onto their land for any reason, period. No more hunting in Farmer Brown’s timber. No more fishing at Uncle Gary’s pond. No more school field trips to show city kids how an Iowa farm operates. None of that. Thanks to Salle no private property owner would dare take the risk.
This is not a partisan issue. This is not even an urban vs. rural issue (especially since most city dwellers that enjoy outdoor recreational activities, like hunting and fishing, rely on access to rural, privately-owned land). This is an issue that strikes at the heart of a long-standing way of life here in Iowa. If we are to preserve that way of life, then the Legislature must pass House File 605 and get it to the Governor’s desk.
This Salle decision also presents another great teachable moment in our republican form of government: Judges do NOT make law. The Legislature does.
For far too long, our society has been hoodwinked into believing that the Judicial Branch is the final arbiter of what constitutes law. I have news for you: It’s not. Actually, the branch of government which is closest to the people, the Legislature, has the responsibility to make law.
The situation with Salle is a case in point. Just because we have been accustomed to capitulation every time the words are thundered “Thus saith the Court..” doesn’t mean that it’s “game over” for the issue. On the contrary, the Legislature has the constitutional role (and in many cases, duty) to respond and correct any overreach of Judicial authority.