State News Feed

Iowa House acts to protect electronic communication from search, seizure

DES MOINES — The Iowa House tackled constitutional issues Wednesday with measures to amend the Iowa Constitution to protect Iowans’ data on electronic devices and another calling for a convention of the states to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government.

The first, House Joint Resolution 1, would protect Iowans against search and seizure of electronic communications and devices without a warrant.

“Just as the government shouldn’t be able to go through your personal files without a warrant, it shouldn’t be able to access your electronic files either,” said Rep. Ken Rizer, R-Cedar Rapids. Iowa would be the fourth state to create such a protection. The amendment would update citizens’ search and seizure protections, “protecting our right to private communications and our right to data privacy,” Rizer said.


Iowa bill to keep volunteers secret may shield criminals, critics say

Iowa would make the names of public volunteers confidential under a fast-moving bill that critics warn could protect pedophiles and other criminals who are found working for government and public institutions in nonpaying positions, sometimes with children.

"Just think about that the next time a school volunteer is found to have been involved in molesting a child,” said Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and the Register's former opinion page editor. "This is about accountability and public safety. The citizens of Iowa have a right to know who is performing government services on their behalf.”


DNR monitoring potential problems from unusually warm February | The Gazette

WARM FEBRUARY: February was the second- warmest in Iowa on record, prompting vegetation to come out of dormancy sooner than usual. That could intensify the dry conditions across south-central and southeast Iowa due to early evapotranspiration, according to a report prepared by the technical staff from the state departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Homeland Security, and U.S. Geological Survey.

Hydrologic conditions and drought have remained the same throughout the winter in Iowa. The wettest area of the state is far northern Iowa, receiving double the normal amounts for January and February, while the southeast one-third of the state remains dry.

Stream flow conditions are above normal across the majority of the state, except in parts of southern Iowa, which have decreased to normal levels.

For a thorough review of Iowa’s water resource trends, go to


Businesses push relief from Iowa workers' comp costs

DES MOINES — Workers urged legislators Tuesday to keep intact a decades-old law that has protected injured workers while employers argued the state needs to rebalance a lawyer-driven system that’s hurting the competitiveness of Iowa businesses.

More than two dozens witnesses showed up at a Statehouse hearing to discuss the pros and cons of pending legislation. Proponents said changes are badly needed, but critics worried those changes in the workers’ compensation law would shift costs to taxpayers.


Trump immigration moves stir anxiety in Iowa

Reports of heightened immigration enforcement by federal agents in Iowa and nationwide have Des Moines schools and community advocates readying for an increase in deportations.

Des Moines Public Schools principals on Friday were directed to encourage families to update their emergency contact information in case a student's parents might be at risk of being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Phil Roeder, director of communications and public affairs for the district.


Libertarian Party receives official status in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (KWQC) – The Office of the Iowa Secretary of State has announced that the Libertarian Party has obtained official party status in Iowa. The status went into effect on March 1, 2017.

A press release provided by the office said that the party’s presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, received 3.8 percent of the vote in the November 2016 general election. Iowa code says that a party must have at least two percent of the vote to obtain official party status.

“I would like to congratulate the Libertarian Party of Iowa on being recognized as an official political party by the state,” Secretary Paul D. Pate said said in the press release. “I encourage all Iowans to become and remain active in the political process.”


Iowa Bill to change distillery laws passes committee, will head to house floor

The bills would do a few things to “level the playing field” for small breweries, distilleries and wineries.

They increase the cap for distilleries from 50,000 gallons per year to 100,000 gallons.

Plus, would allow breweries to sell growlers, smaller than 72 ounces, outside of their building without a distributor; and serve wine by the glass.

The two bills would also allow distilleries to serve their liquor by the glass in their own building.

“We want you to be able to come in and sit down and enjoy an old fashioned made with Cody Road Whiskey while looking at the Mississippi River,” Burchett said. “That sounds pretty good to me.”


Ban on mandating project labor agreements heads to Iowa Senate floor

Legislation that would prevent state and local governments from mandating the use of project labor agreements for public construction projects was approved Wednesday by the Iowa Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee.

Senate Study Bill 1145, which was sent to the Senate floor, addresses concerns raised by non-union contractors about project labor agreements, which are a collective bargaining arrangement with one or more labor unions for a construction project. Such agreements have been used for some major public works projects in Iowa, including the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, the new Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, and the reconstruction and expansion of the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.


Contentious voter ID bill advances in Iowa Senate

A contentious voter identification bill cleared an Iowa Senate subcommittee Wednesday, although critics said there is no evidence it's needed and a Democratic lawmaker scolded a state elections official for suggesting there is a lack of confidence in Iowa's election system.

Senate Study Bill 1163, which is proposed by Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate, was approved on a 2-1 vote, advancing the bill to the Senate State Government Committee. Republican Sens. Roby Smith of Davenport and Jake Chapman of Adel supported the bill, while Democratic Sen. Tony Bisignano opposed it. The Iowa House is considering its own version of Pate's bill, which is House Study Bill 93.


Iowa Utilities Board approves water rate increase

The Iowa Utilities Board on Monday granted Iowa American Water the authority to implement a 10.37 percent rate increase that will boost annual revenue by $3.9 million.

The decision comes almost 10 months after the company applied for a 13.7 percent rate increase that would have grown annual revenue by $5.15 million.  

However, customer rates will not be set until Iowa American develops and files a new rate design, which the state board must review and approve.

The final order amount includes the utility's previous temporary rate increase on May 9, 2016, that added $2.33 to the average monthly bill and expands its annual revenue by about $2.1 million.