WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Iowa Legislature

Iowa Governor Signs Law Immediately Banning School Mask Requirements

May 20, 2021

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law just after midnight Thursday that immediately made it illegal to require masks in schools. It also prevents cities and counties from having mask mandates that affect private property.

Republican Lawmakers Want Tenure Banned at Iowa's Regents Universities

Feb 25, 2021
Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University

Republicans in the Iowa legislature are advancing bills that would ban professors from getting tenure at the state's three regents universities. The lawmakers say conservative students are being silenced.

Bill to Ban Tenure 'A Live Round' In Iowa House, Advances in Both Chambers

Feb 12, 2021

The speaker of the Iowa House called a bill to ban tenure for professors at Iowa's public universities "a live round" as it advanced in the House and Senate this week.

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, did not allow a Democratic representative to speak during a debate Tuesday evening because she violated the chamber dress code by wearing jeans. She said she was testing Grassley's claims that he can't enforce a mask mandate.

Republicans Begin Third Iowa Legislative Session with Complete Control

Jan 14, 2019
John Pemble/Iowa Public Radio

Iowa lawmakers gaveled in Monday to kick off the 2019 legislative session. It's the third legislative session in a row with full Republican control of the statehouse.  Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) says his members are excited to build on their accomplishments of the past two years.

Rep. Kearns Announces Retirement After 2018 Session

Jan 31, 2018
Courtesy photo

State Rep. Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) announced Tuesday afternoon that the 2018 legislative session will be his last. He said the time is right to step aside and allow a new voice to speak for southeast Iowa in Des Moines.

Field Set for Special Election for SE Iowa House Seat

Jul 17, 2017

A special election will be held August 8 to fill the 82nd District seat in the Iowa House of Representatives. Four people met Friday’s filing deadline to appear on the ballot.

Marching for Planned Parenthood

Jun 8, 2017
Beth Howard

Last month, former Gov. Terry Branstad joined Iowa legislators in eliminating funding for health care clinics that provide abortions. Soon after Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced it would be closing 4 of its 12 clinics in Iowa, including sites in Keokuk and Burlington.

Lee County is one step away from finalizing an increase of the local minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $8.20/hour. Lee would become the fifth county in Iowa to hike the rate in the past 18 months, joining Linn, Johnson, Polk, and Wapello.

Southeast Iowa Drug Courts to Close

Jun 26, 2015
www.flickr.com / Brian Turner

Iowa's new budget takes effect July 1 and with it comes some big changes for the Eighth Judicial District Department of Corrections, which encompasses the southeast corner of the state.

Waiting Game for SE Iowa School Districts

Apr 29, 2015

Southeast Iowa residents might be surprised by their upcoming property tax bills if the state legislature is not able to reach a decision on public education funding.

Sen. Taylor: County Seat Bill Still Alive

Apr 22, 2015
Jason Parrott / TSPR

State Senator Rich Taylor (D-Mount Pleasant) is surprised that one of the bills he sponsored this year is not sailing through the Iowa Legislature.

The bill would give residents the authority to call for a special election to "relocate a county seat, establish an additional county seat, or consolidate county seats."  Such a vote would require 60% approval to pass.

Iowa Senator Wants Answers About Veterans Programs

Jul 10, 2014

There seems to be a disconnect between what the Iowa Legislature has been doing for military veterans and the public’s awareness of it.

Rep. Kearns Wants Online Tax Collected

Mar 24, 2014

One southeast Iowa lawmaker says a lack of action by the federal government is costing both the state and small businesses money.

Iowa Condition of the State Address

Jan 14, 2014

Governor Terry Branstad used his 2014 Condition of the State Address to show that "Iowa Is Working."

IA Lawmaker Expects Shorter Session

Jan 10, 2014

One southeast Iowa lawmaker expects to spend less time in Des Moines this year.

Burlington Schools Set Priorities

Aug 15, 2013

The Burlington School Board would like the the Iowa Legislature to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to new rules and regulations.

Workforce Development Cuts in Lee County

Jul 24, 2013

One southeast Iowa lawmaker does not believe the state legislature will be able to stop a reduction in local workforce development services.

OT Likely for Iowa Legislature

Apr 30, 2013

It’s looking less likely that the Iowa Legislature will adjourn its current session on time.

2013 Iowa Legislative Session

Jan 11, 2013

This week’s guests on Emphasis are State Rep. Dave Heaton (R-Mount Pleasant) and State Rep. Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk).

They talk to Public Radio’s Jason Parrott about the Iowa Legislature’s 2013 session.

New SE Iowa Senator Preparing for Session

Jan 7, 2013

Southeast Iowa’s newest state lawmaker says he is still getting used to the state capitol.

Jim Steffen – Iowa House 83

Oct 26, 2012

Jim Steffen (R-Argyle) says southern Lee County needs a new voice in Des Moines.

Jerry Kearns – Iowa House 83

Oct 26, 2012

State Rep. Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) says he has the experience needed to help create and retain jobs in Lee County and Iowa as a whole.

Des Moines County to Maintain Services

Jun 4, 2012

The decision by the Iowa Legislature to revamp the state’s mental health care system has counties struggling to determine their role in the new landscape.

The state will pay for Medicaid-related services, which means counties will receive less in reimbursements.

In response, Des Moines County established waiting lists for a wide variety of services. 

CPC Administrator Ken Hyndman says the idea was to reduce spending in case the county’s budget runs short without certain state reimbursements.

Education Top Priority for Senate Candidates

May 23, 2012

The three candidates for the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s 42nd Senate District say they will make education a top priority.

Bob Morawitz of Fort Madison, Rich Taylor of Mount Pleasant and Donna Amandus of Fort Madison each say improvements to the education system equate to economic development.

Morawitz says the key is improving the workforce, adding “we have a lot of people who do not have the skills and need the training.”

He says that starts with focusing on adult education, especially as industrial jobs become more technology-based.

Lee County Supports KAH

Apr 4, 2012

Lee County is showing support for Keokuk Area Hospital as the Board of Supervisors has pledged $100,000 to the financially-strapped hospital.

There is one condition with the contribution.  It must be matched or even exceeded by the Keokuk City Council.

Keokuk Area Hospital CEO Wally Winkler says the city and county are being asked for support the hospital in the hopes of receiving additional state funding.  He says there is money available to help hospitals, like Keokuk, that receive inadequate reimbursements for services.

Emphasis – March 23

Mar 23, 2012

Jason Parrott’s guest is Ryanne Wood, who is Lee County’s CPC Administrator.  They talk about mental health care reform and what is being proposed in Des Moines by the Iowa Legislature.

Lawmakers are running out of time during the spring session and there is still plenty of work to do in the area of services for those with mental health or other developmental disabilities.

Some of the more common services include one-on-one sessions, drop-in centers or sheltred workshops.

Rep. Kearns Votes Against Bill

Mar 7, 2012

A southeast Iowa lawmaker says the state needs to put more money into economic development efforts.

The Iowa House has passed the Economic Development Budget bill.

The legislation not only funds statewide economic development efforts, but also agencies like the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Board of Regents, and the Iowa Finance Authority.

State Representative Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) voted against the bill.

Kearns Talks Hospital, Prison Funding

Feb 5, 2012

A proposal in Des Moines could result in more money for Keokuk Area Hospital.

Rep. Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) has filed legislation asking the Iowa Department of Human Services to recalculate one of its hospital funding formulas.

He says the state makes money available to hospitals that do not receive adequate reimbursement for care of low income patients.

Kearns says that state funding can be used to leverage even more federal money.

Lawmakers could increase Iowa’s fuel tax.

Jan 16, 2012

Two Southeast Iowa lawmakers believe the state’s fuel tax will eventually increase.

State Senator Gene Fraise (D-Lee County) and State Representative Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) do not foresee an increase during an election year.

The two recently spoke to members of the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce during a legislative luncheon.

Fraise says a proposal gaining support in Des Moines would increase the fuel tax by four cents/year for two years.

It would take effect next year.