116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
State bans local face mask requirements
Iowa schools are no longer able to require staff or students to wear face masks during the school day, thanks to a new order that was passed in the final hours of the 2021 legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds just after midnight, mere hours before the next school day was to start. Districts across the state that still had face mask requirements in place for the COVID-19 pandemic quickly sent alerts to parents and students with the news that face masks are no longer required.
Police backed: State lawmakers passed “back the blue” legislation that would shield law enforcement officers from some lawsuits and raise the penalty for rioting to a Class D felony.
Abortion amendment: Republicans approved a resolution that, if approved again next year, would put an amendment on the ballot as early as 2024 to allow Iowa voters to decide whether the Iowa Constitution provides a right to abortion.
Trial begins: The trial began in the case of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who is accused in the death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, who was fatally stabbed while out running in July 2018. The case is expected to last through next week.
“I am going to follow the science. NOT Nancy Pelosi!”
--- GOP U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, after being fined for not wearing a face mask on the U.S. House floor
“I suppose I’m supposed to apologize for rising to speak a second time and I will if I have to, but I wouldn’t mean it.”
--- Iowa Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, during debate
Charter schools: Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law an expansion of the state’s charter school program, allowing charter schools to be established without the local public school board.
Auditor investigation: Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand announced his office will launch an investigation into payments made by former Democratic Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz to election workers last summer.
DOC review: The Iowa Department of Corrections is seeking a vendor to review all parts of its prison system, from staffing and inmate classification to the safety of buildings where more than 8,000 criminal offenders are housed.
Commission questioned: Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley questioned the need to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, following reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will oppose such legislation.
Drought discussion: The state agriculture and natural resources departments will host a free online webinar from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday to discuss drought conditions in Iowa.
Iowa DOT promotion: Ryan Ridout has been promoted to chief of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement, the agency’s law enforcement organization.
Mental health funding shift, taxes cut
In closing down the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers removed barriers to ensure state income tax cuts will start in 2023, doubled eligibility for a child care tax credit, phased out the state inheritance tax, shifted funding for mental health care services from local property taxes to the state, and phased out state funding designed to assist local governments that lost revenue due to property tax cuts. All the elements were part of a compromise package as Republican leaders negotiated their respective wish lists for the session.
Veteran found: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Navy Fireman 1st Class William D. Tucker, 19, of Bedford, killed during World War II, was accounted for on December 3, 2020. Tucker will be buried on June 30, 2021, in his hometown.
Elections bill: An attorney for the conservative advocacy organization whose leader claimed heavy involvement in the writing of Iowa’s new elections law has now told state regulators that the group did not work with state lawmakers in crafting the legislation.
Train derailment: A train derailed in northwest Iowa, prompting authorities to evacuate part of the small, nearby town of Sibley. There were no immediate reports of injuries related to the derailment.