Iowa signs the first ‘Visitation Law’. Kerri Kasem, Misty Davis and Gov. Terry Branstad.

DES MOINES — Misty Davis of Cedar Rapids is hoping a bill Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law Friday will enable her to re-establish ties with her brother, Jim.

Davis, 29, said she has had limited to no contact with her 39-year-old brother, who has a mild intellectual disability, since her father died in January 2013 and her step-mother became Jim’s guardian and shielded him from his family members. She said she lost her brother 28 months ago, “not through death, but through guardianship.”

Davis, who sought help from state Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, to get the bill enacted, was on hand in Branstad’s formal Capitol office to witness him signing a ground-breaking law that gives family members a new legal avenue to use if they’re blocked from seeing a relative who is incapacitated. She is hoping the new law, which takes effect July 1, will help her seek to enforce visitation rights.

“I will go, and I will fight for it,” she said. “I’m very stubborn and persistent, so this will happen.”
Senate File 306, which addresses communication and visitation rights between an adult ward and another person, is one of the first laws in the nation that would allow relatives to ask a judge to enforce visitation rights.

Also present at Friday’s Capitol bill-signing ceremony was Kerri Kasem, daughter of the radio personality Casey Kasem, former host of “America’s Top 40.” She lobbied for the bill after her late father was moved from his nursing home in California, first to Nevada and then to Washington, without his children’s knowledge or consent.

“This is a silent epidemic,” she said. “There are so many abuses of guardianships and so many abuses of caretakers.”

Senate File 306 was one of 28 bills the governor signed on Friday.

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