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Iowa Republicans Push Bills to Restrict Abortion

John Pemble / IPR file
Gov. Kim Reynolds addresses a crowd at an anti-abortion rally hosted at the Iowa Capitol.

There are a number of bills moving forward that would limit or eliminate abortions in Iowa. That’s despite recent court rulings. Last week, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds declined to appeal a court ruling over abortion but says she will continue fighting for abortion opponents. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checked in with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric to talk about abortion legislation and preview the week ahead at the capitol.

Gov. Reynolds said it was an extremely difficult decision not to appeal. Reynolds made the comments last week during an anti-abortion rally at the Iowa capitol. She told the anti-abortion rally that the Iowa Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that found the constitution protects a fundamental right to abortion means it’s extremely unlikely the fetal heartbeat law or any abortion restriction would survive in court. An amendment that declares no right to an abortion in the Iowa Constitution is still on the agenda. A senate panel approved a bill that would ban pretty much all abortions declaring a hum being’s life begins at conception and is due all rights of state and federal constitutions.

The House and Senate have a better idea of what a sports-betting legalization bill might look like. Both proposals allow casinos to host sports betting in-person and online and the bills propose regulation of online fantasy sports contests. Neither bill includes paying fees to sports leagues, which the sports leagues aren’t happy with. But the casinos seem to be happy with the plan. “The bigger differences are that the House plan includes taxes and fees. 6.75 percent  tax on sports betting revenue,” Sostaric says. “Which is in line with Las Vegas, although some other states have taxed this at much higher rates.” The Senate plan doesn’t include this yet--they’ll take taxes and fees up in a separate proposal. The Senate bill also requires that for the first 18 months of legal sports betting, people have to come into a casino and start an account before being able to place bets from their phone.

The House has scaled back its judicial nominating bill. At first, there were sweeping changes to the commission that pick nominees for the governor to choose from were meant to apply to all judges in the state. “Now, it’s mostly focused on the Iowa Supreme Court and court of appeals,” Sostaric says. “Basically, the governor and lawmakers will have a lot more power over appointments to those courts than they do now.”

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.
Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter