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Podcast: Under The Golden Dome Week 2

John Pemble / IPR
The golden dome of Iowa's Capitol

During this weekly podcast of highlights from the Iowa legislature, nobody knows how long Governor Terry Branstad will remain in Iowa.  President Trump wants him to be the next U.S. Ambassador to China, but a timeline for the confirmation process is not set.

Once he makes the move, Branstad will serve at a delicate time in U.S.-China relations under President Trump, who is off to a rocky start in his relations with that country. Iowa Public Radio reporter Clay Masters looks back to a few months ago when it started to become clear what was to come for governor.

While he is still governor, Terry Branstad continues to roll out his priorities.  The administration wants to defund Planned Parenthood. If this happens, Iowa will have to turn away some of the $3 million of Medicaid money marked to be spent on family planning services, much of which is through Planned Parenthood. Lt. Governor Reynolds mentions during the administration’s press conference they are planning on an alternative program.

The number of bills being “read in” got off to a slower start this year, but one that is passing through has to with more regulation about texting while driving.  As the law now stands, a texting driver can only be ticketed if they’re stopped for another offense. A new bill that passed out of subcommittee would allow law enforcement to pull someone over for texting while driving.

Patrick Hoye of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau is a supporter of the bill.  A week before the legislative session, Hoye spoke with River to River host Ben Kieffer about his support.

An act that would bring voter ID is being promoted by Secretary of State Paul Pate. In what he calls the Election Integrity Act, Pate wants to make voting with an absentee ballot to include more work.  Speaking with the House State Government Committee, he says when registering to vote, an ID number from a driver’s license or other document needs to be provided.   Under his bill a person would put that same number on an absentee ballot request.    

Representative Chip Baltimore is introducing a house study bill that would not allow cities to create rules based on how many people are occupying a rental.  College towns have passed ordinances limiting occupancy to three unrelated adults.  The idea is to stop college students from crowding into houses.  Some say this is what causes loud parties disruptive in single family neighborhoods.

Ames has this kind of ordinance. Ames mayor Anne Campbell says despite this ordinance, in her neighborhood near the Iowa State University campus, police are still called to break up noisy parties.

Joe Kelly with the Landlords of Iowa says he supports this law that would not force landlords to impose this restriction for all rentals.  In the past, bills to throw out the ordinances have cleared the Republican-controlled House but were not taken up in the Senate when Democrats were in control.

John Pemble is a reporter for IPR