Iowa businesses that dispatch trucks loaded with ice cream goodies for the kids would be able to do criminal background checks on ice cream truck drivers if a bill that cleared the Iowa House becomes law.

Cedar Rapids-based Peppy’s Ice Cream had been doing those checks on drivers who sell ice cream from the company’s vans in 45 eastern Iowa communities, but Representative Dawn Pettengill said the company’s owners discovered a recent federal rule prohibited the practice.

“Apparently in the federal rules, it said that a state had to specify a particular job category in order to be able to do a national background check,” Pettengill said.

The bill adds ice cream truck driver to the list which already includes applicants for nursing home jobs and teaching positions who can be subject to a check of three national criminal registries. According to Pettengill, ice cream vendors want to do the checks to ensure drivers don’t have a criminal history that would make it unsafe for them to be around the kids who flock to the ice cream trucks.

“The ice cream truck companies are hiring their drivers now,” Pettengill saod. “We want to be sure they have safe drivers and that’s what this bill is all about.” 

During House debate this afternoon Representative Dave Jacoby, a Democrat from Coralville, jokingly told Pettengill he had another concern.

“Did anyone bring up the insidious music that these ice cream trucks play?” Jacoby asked, as other members of the House groaned. 

Pettengill laughed. “Well, the music really is a draw to kids though,” she said.

Jacoby replied: “I must admit, I have a different reaction.”  

Another House member joked that the legislature might want to allow companies or malls that hire an actor to portray Santa at Christmastime to do criminal background checks.