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The following is a roundup of Iowa news from the past seven days.
Prison staffers killed
Two inmates used prison hammers to kill a nurse and a correctional officer in a failed attempt to escape from the Anamosa State Penitentiary, state officials said. Nurse Lorena Schulte, 50, and Officer Robert McFarland, 46, died of blunt force trauma to the head. McKinley Roby, an inmate who tried to help Schulte and McFarland, also was hit in the head, but survived and is being treated at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.
Human remains were found in a pond in a rural area near DeWitt, about 20 miles north of Davenport where authorities have been investigating the disappearance of a 10-year-old girl since last summer.
Constitutional carry passes
Legislation that would eliminate a requirement that Iowans obtain a permit to acquire or carry handguns and loosen other state restrictions is headed to Gov. Kim Reynolds' desk following Senate passage Monday on a 30-17 party-line vote.
Mental health funding
A Senate subcommittee started work on a massive property tax revamp that gradually would shift the cost of mental health services from Iowa's 99 counties to the state and phase out the $152 million 'backfill” to cities, counties and schools.
Charter school bill passes
Iowa House Republicans approved a proposed expansion of the state's charter school program. The legislation would permit the foundation of public charter schools by individuals or groups other than a local school board. Republicans who approved the measure said it will provide an alternative to public schools, which will foster innovation and experimentation. Democrats, who were united in opposition to the bill, said it threatens to cause financial damage to public schools. Iowa currently has two charter schools operating.
Back the blue bill
House Republicans advanced a bill that would criminalize shining a laser light in a peace officer's eyes, prohibit blocking roadways as part of demonstrations, and prevent cities from telling law enforcement to stop enforcing the law.
Grassley on gun safety
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he was hopeful Democrats and Republicans could work together to make 'bipartisan, common-sense” progress on gun control. But he said that U.S. House-passed legislation did not fit that bill.
The Iowa House restarted the process of amending the state constitution to say felons who complete their sentences are then eligible to vote. Similar legislation stalled last year, so Gov. Kim Reynolds restored felon voting rights via executive order.
They said ...
'These barriers are real, and we have to face these realities. These barriers are as thick as any wall you can imagine because of the historical data that exists in minority communities relative to experiences with our systems.”
- Jonathan Whitfield, a pastor at Corinthian Baptist Church in Des Moines, on the hesitancy some minorities feel about getting the COVID-19 vaccine
'I don't want to see a whole bunch of untrained people out there doing their own thing just because they feel like doing it.”
- Iowa Rep. Jarad Klein, R-Keota, on a bill that would criminalize placing cameras or surveillance devices on someone else's property
Odds and ends
Iowa's stimulus share:
Iowa governments are in line for more than $4.4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money under a nationwide $1.9 trillion package, according to a preliminary analysis issued by the state's nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.
Waiting for maps:
A top Statehouse Republican has suggested the state sue the U.S. Census Bureau to get data needed to complete legislative redistricting that the federal agency says won't be available until late September.
Second gentleman visit:
Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack heard about food insecurity issues from a central Iowa food bank CEO and charity leaders during an event at a food bank in Des Moines.
A Victory Insights poll of 650 Iowa Republicans found that 61 percent said they will support former President Donald Trump if he runs in the state's first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in 2024.
2nd District contest:
While moderate and vulnerable House Democrats express reservations over the prospect of reversing a state-certified election, Democrat Rita Hart's campaign renewed its call for all lawful ballots to be counted as a GOP pressure campaign builds casting the contest as a partisan power grab.
Utility shut-offs moratorium:
The Iowa Utilities Board is reminding Iowans that the annual winter moratorium regarding utility service disconnection ends April 1. Affected customers are being encouraged to contact their service providers.