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Highlights From The Iowa Legislature's Session Restarting

John Pemble
IPR file
The Iowa Legislature suspended its session for 11 weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Iowa Legislature restarted its session this week after legislative leaders put it on hold in mid-March because of the coronavirus. The session also resumes during a week when daily protests following the death of George Floyd have been happening in several Iowa cities, including Des Moines.

Here are some of highlights from lawmakers’ first couple days back:

  • Democratic lawmakers have proposed three policies to help prevent police violence. The policies would ban police chokeholds, make it illegal to rehire officers fired for misconduct and ensure the Iowa attorney general can investigate police misconduct. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds did not commit to pushing any racial justice legislation by the end of the session. But she told reporters she wants to keep working on it.
  • House Republicans introduced a new proposal to give more protections to businesses against coronavirus-related lawsuits. There have been issues in Iowa with major coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants and nursing homes. A committee approved the bill on Wednesday and it could get debated by the full House as early as Friday. The bill would prevent lawsuits related to coronavirus exposure unless the business intended to cause harm, or if someone had to be hospitalized or died.
  • The Iowa Senate passed a bill 32-17 that makes some changes to the state’s medical cannabis program.  The bill would restrict THC purchases to 4.5 grams over 90 days with some exceptions, which allows for some more potent cannabis products. Current law limits the amount of THC in any cannabis product to 3 percent but does not limit total purchases.
  • The Iowa Senate passed a bill along party lines prohibiting local governments from having stricter firearm accessory policies than the state. It also requires local governments to provide armed security and screenings if they ban guns in public buildings.

Clay Masters is the senior politics reporter for MPR News.
Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter