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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The following is a roundup of recent Iowa news.
In the news
Debate over prison funding gets heated
The recent death of two state prison workers and funding for the state’s prison system became the focal points of heated partisan debate at the Iowa Capitol. Democrats and union leaders called for more state funding for the prison system and accused Republicans of neglecting prison workers, while a Republican leader highlighted his party’s proposed prison funding boost and accused Democrats of betraying law enforcement officials. The bickering continued as legislators held hearings on the state’s prison system budget.
Police lawsuit: Iowa will pay $225,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was injured when a state trooper knocked him over and put his knee on his neck during a 2017 traffic stop, according to documents released. The payment ends a lawsuit filed against the state and a former Iowa State Patrol trooper in 2019.
Police report: State police officers in Iowa drew their guns and used force against suspects significantly more often in 2020 than in previous years due to a major increase in resistance, according to an internal report obtained by the Associated Press.
Permit-less carry: Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a contentious measure eliminating a requirement that Iowans obtain a permit to acquire or carry handguns and loosening other state restrictions.
Former congressman dies: Bobby Schilling, who represented northwest Illinois in the U.S. House and later ran for Congress in Eastern Iowa, died from cancer. The Republican represented northwest Illinois’ 17th District in Congress from 2011 to 2013 before losing his re-election bid to Democrat Cheri Bustos in 2012 and a rematch with Bustos in 2014. Schilling moved to Iowa in 2017 and ran for Congress in 2020 in Eastern Iowa’s 2nd District, losing in the GOP primary to eventual U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Vaccine passports: Gov. Kim Reynolds said she wants legislation that would prohibit so-called vaccine passports in Iowa, citing her concern for potential action from the federal government, even though the White House said there will be no federal vaccine passport.
Mental health: The Iowa Senate voted to revamp mental health financing by shifting the cost of regional services from Iowa’s 99 counties to the state and phasing out the $152 million “backfill” to cities, counties and schools.
Rape kits: The Iowa Senate approved a bill that would establish ongoing funding to track evidence kits critical to the prosecution of rapists. The system would follow rape kits from evidence collection at a hospital, to law enforcement, to the crime lab for analysis and then back to law enforcement.
They said ...
“We’re creating a monster of unknown size and unknown appetite, and we’re writing the monster a blank check.”
— Iowa Sen. Claire Celsi, D-Des Moines, on legislation that would allow for an expansion of charter schools as an alternative to public schools
“Age does not have a lot to do with ability.”
— Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, arguing for a bill that would reduce the minimum age to 16 for an amusement ride attendant who controls patron restraints or the operation of an attraction
Odds and ends
Economic indicators: Iowa’s monthly leading economic indicators index improved in February for the seventh time in the eight months since COVID-19 pandemic impacts hit, according to the state revenue department.
Voter registration: Registered voters who did not participate in the 2020 election will receive a mailing to confirm their address. Iowans who do not respond will be listed as inactive until they participate in an election or update their registration.
Hoover Library: The Iowa House approved a tax credit to help raise funds for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch.
The water cooler
Camping fees: Campers looking to overnight in Iowa’s state parks this year will pay more to do so. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has raised camping fees at the state’s parks this year for the first time in more than 20 years.
Alcohol delivery: The Iowa House advanced legislation that would allow for third-party companies, such as Uber or DoorDash, to deliver alcohol products.
Sports betting: Since sports gambling in Iowa became legal in August 2019, bets placed on professional, college and fantasy sports activities have topped the $1 billion plateau.