Staff Columnist

Can you pass this Iowa civics test?

The State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
The State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

Iowa lawmakers are mulling a bill that would require the state’s high school students to pass a civics exam before graduating.

Its future is uncertain. But I figured I’d suggest some questions, just in case it becomes law. No need to thank me. Really.

1. What is Iowa’s state motto?

A. Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain.

B. Our Waters We Prize but We Maintain Our Right to Fertilize.

C. Our Campaign Donors We Heed and Their Bidding We Do with Speed.

D. Our Businesses We Chase and Our Tax Breaks We Give in Haste.

E. Our Politicians Annoy but At Least We’re Not Illinois.

2. What are Iowa’s three branches of government?

A. The Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches.

B. Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau.

C. Americans for Prosperity and two dark money donors you don’t need to worry about.

D. Wisconsin, South Dakota and Kansas.

E. The governor, an executive order and a pen.

3. How many Iowa Supreme Court justices can rule a law unconstitutional?

A. A majority of four.

B. Five, six or whatever number the Legislature picks this week.

C. None. All cases are decided by an online Twitter poll.

D. Just count all the “liberal” justices and add one.

E. Legislators would never pass an unconstitutional law.

4. Which of the following steps are involved in a bill becoming a law?

A. Passage by the House and Senate.

B. Closed-door consultations with key interest groups.

C. Closed-door party caucuses to line up votes.

D. Closed-door negotiations between House and Senate leaders.

E. All of the above.

5. Does the public have access to the legislative committee process?

A. Yes, generally, committees and subcommittees are open to the public.

B. Yes, but only if there are enough chairs.

C. Yes, if you sit quietly in awe of legislative wisdom.

D. Yes, at the risk of being crushed by a stampede of anxious lobbyists.

E. All of the above.

6. The Statehouse mural “Westward” depicts what?

A. The migration of settlers westward to Iowa.

B. Harassed women marching toward the Iowa Senate.

C. Young people rushing to leave the state.

D. Legislators heading to a special interest reception.

E. Presidential candidates searching for a Pizza Ranch.

7. Which quotation is not proudly displayed in the Statehouse?

A. “Courageous confidence in the intelligence of the community is the sure sign of leadership and success.” G.W. Curtis

B. “The ideal state — that in which an injury done to the least of its citizens is an injury done to all.” Solon.


C. “That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” A. Lincoln.

D. “The message that I am taking from voters is that they expect us — for lack of a better term — to kick the door in.” B. Dix.

Answers: A, A, A, E, E, A, D, or pick a favorite.

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