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Waterloo Becomes First City in Iowa to "Ban The Box"

Kathryn Decker
Waterloo City Council approved the first "ban the box" measure in the state of Iowa, which bans many employers from asking applicants about their criminal history until the end of the pre-employment process.

In Waterloo, many employers, including the city, will soon be barred from asking job applicants about their criminal records until the end of the hiring process. This comes after a “ban the box” hiring ordinance won narrow approval from Waterloo’s City Council earlier this week.

Waterloo is the first city in Iowa to pass an ordinance of this kind, and will join more than 150 other cities in the country in “banning the box.” The movement has gained national traction as a counter to the often uphill struggle towards employment for those with a criminal history.

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Reporter Tim James joins guest host Katelyn Harrop on this "news buzz" edition of River to River to detail the debate over disclosing criminal history when applying for jobs. He also explains how the new policy will play out in the coming weeks.

Also in the program, a look at three elected officials taking on new leadership roles in the Iowa Statehouse and a conversation with Doug Burns, Co-owner of the Carroll Times Herald. The newspaper is asking the public for help after a legal battle, which they won,  left it in financial trouble. 


  • Katarina Sostaric, State Government Reporter, IPR
  • Tim Jamison, Reporter, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
  • Chris Nelson, 4th Ward Ames City Council member
  • Doug Burns, Co-owner, Carroll Times Herald
  • Clara Chow, University of Iowa International Writing Program Fellow
  • Tony Dehner, Host, IPR Studio One 

Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River