State News Feed

Iowa pays $1.1 million in settlements

Iowa officials on Monday agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle two lawsuits alleging medical malpractice at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.

And, in a separate matter, taxpayers will also pay $12,000 in legal fees after a judge ruled in favor of an Iowa prison inmate who said the state had wrongly prohibited him from communicating with his daughter.


Iowa lawmakers approve 'significant' criminal justice reform | The Gazette

DES MOINES — Motivated in part by traumatic stories from their districts, a pair of Iowa state lawmakers pushed for legislation that ultimately became what legislators and advocacy groups are calling the most significant criminal justice reform passed by the Iowa Legislature this year, if not several years.

Rep. Dave Dawson, a Democrat from Sioux City, and Rep. Ken Rizer, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, were key in getting state lawmakers’ approval this week of criminal justice reform legislation that would allow some non-violent drug offenders to become eligible for parole earlier in their sentences, provide a new, less punitive class of robbery for non-violent offenses and establish a mandatory minimum sentence for individuals convicted of child endangerment resulting in death.


Fantasy sports bill dead in Iowa Senate

Legislation that would allow Iowa fantasy sports players to legally claim prizes and cash payouts was declared dead in the Iowa Senate on Tuesday.

Sen. William Dotzler, D-Waterloo, who was managing a fantasy sports bill, said Senate Study Bill 3181 won't advance this session after Gov. Terry Branstad declined to endorse the legislation earlier in the day. The governor told reporters the issue needs more study.

"We need to know what the ramifications would be. What I’ve been hearing is a lot of unanswered questions. And I think those questions need to be answered," Branstad said.


Gronstal’s Political Agenda Hurts Iowa Families

This Thursday, the Iowa Senate rejected Mariannette Miller-Meeks, former Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, to serve on the Iowa Hawk-I Board. The Iowa Hawk-I Board advises the state on health care coverage for uninsured children of working families.
Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said this about the decision: “Mike Gronstal and his partisan destructive attitude towards anyone that has a slight disagreement with him is not what the families of Iowa need. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is a healthcare professional who knows and understands the complicated healthcare system. Allowing politics to get in the way of this nomination is Gronstal’s way of asserting his political agenda. 
In the end, the only people who lose are Iowa families.” 

Iowa Republicans propose to defund Planned Parenthood

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Planned Parenthood in Iowa would have no state funding under a budget bill advanced Thursday by some House Republicans, but the proposal is not expected to have enough support in the Democratic-majority Senate.

The House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines for language in a health and human services budget bill that would remove Medicaid funding for family planning facilities in the state that provide abortions.


New Iowa law says apartments must have carbon monoxide alarm |

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill into law on Thursday, April 14, that requires carbon monoxide alarms in all apartments in Iowa in addition to smoke alarms.

In 2014, more than 20  Iowans died from carbon monoxide poisoning and another 241 people went to the emergency room for treatment. Though not required, homeowners are encouraged to add a carbon monoxide detector to their homes as well.


Iowa Senate rejects Miller-Meeks

The Iowa Senate on Thursday rejected Gov. Terry Branstad's nomination of former state health director Mariannette Miller-Meeks to the Iowa Hawk-I Board, which advises the state on health care coverage for uninsured children of working families.

Miller-Meeks needed 34 votes — a two-thirds majority — to be confirmed. Her nomination failed on a 28-18 vote, prompting strong criticism of Democratic lawmakers from Branstad's spokesman and from Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock.


Iowa landowners file suit over Bakken pipeline

A group of nine Iowa landowners is suing Iowa utility regulators over the state's decision to authorize the use of eminent domain to access land for the Bakken oil pipeline, which will cross through 18 Iowa counties.

The lawsuit was filed in Polk County District Court against the Iowa Utilities Board on Friday on behalf of the Northwest Iowa Landowners Association and individual landowners. Lawyer Bill Hanigan of the Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines is representing the property owners.


State Budget Growth Outpacing Income Growth of Iowans

The Iowa legislature appears to be making progress in resolving the previously reported sticking points within the budget subcommittees.  The House and Senate released joint budget targets near the end of last week totaling $7.349 billion for Fiscal Year 2017, coming in $2 million below the 99% expenditure limit imposed by state law.  While Iowans for Tax Relief would like to be optimistic about this legislative session coming to an end, we are fearful that the fight over the few remaining budget dollars will only become more fierce.  We continue to believe that prolonged negotiations could produce legislation that would be dangerous to the taxpayer.
If the final budget for Fiscal Year 2017 does arrive at the target amount of $7.349 billion that will represent an increase of almost $175 million, or 2.4%, over the current fiscal year.  That growth outpaces both the national rate of inflation (CPI-U +1.0% through 12 months ended February 2016) and the Personal Income Growth of Iowans (+0.6% through 12 months ended December 31, 2015) which ranked 48 of all 50 states.  We believe the growth of your state government should not exceed the growth of the budgets of its citizens but Iowa will likely receive a larger raise this year than you did.

How do we slow the growth rate of Iowa government to a rate that matches inflation or personal income growth?  Pass a taxpayer rights amendment to the Iowa Constitution.  To do that, Iowans must elect more pro-taxpayer candidates this fall; elections are the best way to make your voice heard!