Iowa less reliant on gun industry than some, getting ready for bird flu, the Supremes hit the road: Iowa Capitol Digest, March 19

The Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news:

GUN DEPENDENCE: Iowa ranks 35th in a state-by-state analysis of the U.S. states that are most dependent on the gun industry that was issued Monday by the personal-finance website WalletHub. WalletHub compared all states across 16 metrics. The data set ranges from firearms industry jobs per capita to gun sales per 1,000 residents to gun ownership rate. Iowa ranked 43rd in the firearms industry rank, 40th in the gun prevalence rank and 11th in the gun political contribution rank. The highest-scoring state was Idaho with an 81.73 score compared with Iowa’s score of 44.55.

BIRD FLU PREPARATIONS: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig is calling attention to biosecurity efforts by Iowa turkey, egg and broiler farmers and the preparations undertaken after the confirmation of low pathogenic bird flu in Missouri and Texas in recent weeks. State officials say low pathogenicity bird flu virus strains occur naturally in wild migratory waterfowl and shorebirds without causing illness. They also occur in domestic poultry, with little or no signs of illness. However, Naig says there is the potential for low pathogenic viruses to evolve into highly pathogenic viruses, which are extremely infectious, often fatal to domestic poultry, and can spread rapidly from flock-to-flock. As a result, he said, it is important to monitor and respond to low-path and high-path bird flu detections.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Iowa’s seven Supreme Court justices are taking to the road. The high court will hear oral arguments at 7 p.m. April 3 in the Knoxville Performing Arts Center at Knoxville High School, 1811 W. Madison St. Oral arguments are open to the public and begin at 7 p.m. Lawyers in a Polk County case will present their views in a case involving a medical malpractice lawsuit involving complications from open heart surgery. The plaintiff has filed an appeal of various trial court rulings after a jury verdict in favor of the defendants. The Iowa Supreme Court has granted further review of the Iowa Court of Appeals opinion in this case. Questions on appeal involve the nature of a patient’s informed consent and the extent of a medical provider’s duty to disclose to the patient before the surgery the risks of the procedure and the provider’s level of training and experience in performing the procedure. A public reception with the justices at the high school will follow oral arguments.

CELEBRATION OF LIFE: A Celebration of Life will be held Friday in Fort Madison for a former warden at the Iowa State Penitentiary who recently died. Former Warden Nick Ludwick retired in January 2017 after seven years at Iowa State Penitentiary. He died Feb. 1 in Michigan after a decadelong battle with cancer. An invitation-only service will be 3 to 5 p.m. at the penitentiary. The public is invited to the Celebration of Life held at the Atlas Steak and Smokehouse from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with the Ludwick family, according to officials in the state Department of Corrections.

CANDIDATES VERIFIED: The secretary of state has verified the nominating petitions of Republican gubernatorial Ron Corbett and 1st District Democrat Courtney Rowe. Both turned in their nomination papers late Friday.

Third District Democratic hopeful Theresa Greenfield, whose campaign manager admitted to forging signatures, withdrew her petition Friday and submitted a new petition before the 5 p.m. deadline. However, she needed 1,790 signatures but has fewer than 1,500.

“After shouting at and attacking the popular voter ID law passed by Republicans last year, Democrats now find themselves allegedly committing fraud and impersonating voters just to get on the ballot,” said Jesse Dougherty, RPI spokesman “The Democrats’ behavior is making an example of why voter protections are needed in Iowa’s elections.”

Find the complete list of verified candidates at


No candidate officially is qualified for the ballot until after the deadline at 5 p.m. Friday for challenging nomination papers.

STAFF CHANGES: Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, and Senate President Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, announced the following staff changes:

Mary Earnhardt moved with Whitver from the Office of the Senate President to the Office of the Majority Leader as a senior aide. She has worked with Whitver since late 2016. Whitver also retained Caleb Hunter retained as communications director.

Andy Conlin was appointed senior aide to Schneider, replacing Earnhardt. He began working on the Senate Republican Caucus staff in late 2016. Before joining the Senate, Conlin worked in public relations. At the Legislature, he staffed Labor, Local Government, and Transportation committees. Schneider also retained Chris Dorsey as assistant to the president.

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