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Week in review
Recap of news from across the state
Gazette Des Moines Bureau
Jun. 25, 2022 6:00 am
In the news:
OPEN ENROLLMENT: Students can apply to open enroll to another public school district at any point in the year under a bill signed into law Tuesday by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
The March 1 deadline for open enrollment requests was put in place so school districts could plan for how many students they will have during the upcoming school year. But Republicans who control the Statehouse wanted the deadline removed as part of their “school-choice” package.
It was among three bills Reynolds signed Tuesday, completing her work on all legislation that was passed this year by state lawmakers.
SUPREME COURT VACANCY: Five applicants will be interviewed Monday for an opening on the Iowa Supreme Court when Justice Brent Appel retires next month.
The state Judicial Nominating Commission will forward the names of three finalists to Gov. Kim Reynolds. When she appoints the new justice, it will be her fifth appointment to the seven-member court.
They said …
“Right now, there are small towns across the state of Iowa that are being revitalized by Latin American or Mexican American immigration. And to have that unwelcoming rhetoric from the Iowa GOP, I think, is going to be really, really problematic, when the census projects by 2050 Iowa’s going to be a quarter Latino.”
— Sami Scheetz, Iowa House District 78 seat candidate
"This bill does not take away the rights of any law-abiding American."
— Republican Sen. Joni Ernst on proposed bipartisan gun bill being considered by Congress
Odds and ends
REGENT RISEWICK: Four months after Milt Dakovich, a longtime member of Iowa’s Board of Regents, died of cancer, Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday appointed Seneca Cos. President James “JC” Risewick to fill the vacancy.
Risewick will begin serving immediately but will have to be confirmed by the Iowa Senate when it is next in session. He and his father, Christopher, have donated $35,000 to Reynolds’ campaign funds and contributed $65,000 in in-kind services, including private flights.
LEGAL AID: Legal Services Corp. is awarding $1.4 million to Iowa Legal Aid to support the delivery of legal services to low-income people impacted by the August 2020 derecho.
The water cooler
KEEGAN SCORES: Iowa’s Keegan Murray was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the fourth pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.
Murray, from Cedar Rapids Prairie, became the highest NBA draft pick ever from Iowa. At 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, he was a consensus All-America forward this year after averaging 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocked shots and 1.3 steals per game.
HISTORIC MOMENT: A Cedar Rapids Democrat is poised to become the first Arab American lawmaker in the Iowa Legislature.
Sami Scheetz, a 26-year-old community organizer whose mother immigrated to Cedar Rapids from Damascus, Syria, is running unopposed for the Iowa House District 78 seat.
If elected, Scheetz said he hopes to counter what he sees as “sharp and harmful” anti-immigrant rhetoric from Iowa Republicans.
More in the news
SENATORS SPLIT ON GUN BILL: Iowa's two Republican U.S. senators split their votes Tuesday on advancing a bipartisan gun bill now under consideration in Congress.
Sen. Chuck Grassley voted “no,” saying he needed more time to study the 80-page bill. Sen. Joni Ernst joined 13 other Republican senators in voting "yes" to advance the legislation past the 60-vote hurdle.
Among other measures, the bill bans convicted domestic abusers from purchasing a gun for at least five years.
TUITION INCREASE LIKELY: Students at Iowa’s three public universities may be paying more for tuition starting in the fall.
The Iowa Board of Regents, during a virtual meeting Monday, heard from student leaders about the proposed 4.25 percent tuition increase.
The students had some words about the declining support for higher education by Iowa lawmakers. “What is it going to take for legislators to invest back into the public universities of Iowa?” Leila Masinovac, president of the University of Northern Iowa Student Government, asked.
The regents will vote on the tuition increase at their July meeting.
More in the news
RANKED CHOICE VOTING: Members of the Cedar Rapids Charter Review Commission said Iowa’s second-largest city, with a recent trend of Republican mayors serving a Democratic-leaning city, should consider piloting a new way of selecting city leaders — once Iowa law allows it.
Commission members voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend language directing the City Council to appoint a new commission to consider the issue if ranked choice voting, which would avoid runoff elections, becomes allowed under Iowa law.
But State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, who chairs the committee responsible for advancing such bills, said he has no interest in changing Iowa law to allow for ranked choice voting.
RURAL BROADBAND: An influx of federal funding for high-speed internet expansion has created an opportunity in Iowa that must be met, agriculture and business leaders in Iowa said Wednesday.
Iowa stakeholders talked about any internet expansion needing to be both truly high-speed and affordable; that the federal regulations be streamlined; and that deployment happens as quickly as possible to meet the needs of farmers and rural residents.
DRUG PRICES: Lowering prescription drug prices and protecting rural pharmacies are the main goals of a new state law that adds regulations of companies that serve as a sort of middleman between pharmacies and insurance companies.
The new provisions were unanimously approved by state lawmakers this session and signed into law this month by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Gazette Des Moines Bureau