2020 Legislative Session

Iowa's 88th General Assembly resumes its work representing the priorities and citizens of Iowa Monday, January 13th. With Republican majorities in both houses of the legislature and a Republican governor in office, key legislative priorities for the 2020 session are expected to be finding more solutions for the state's workforce shortage, passing a constitutional amendment to restore felon voting rights, funding mental health services, and changing Iowa's medical cannabis law. The legislature will adjourn in spring, once the annual state budget has been passed and submitted to Governor Reynolds. 

If you want the latest on news and priorities from the statehouse, IPR News is your source:

  • State Government Reporter Katarina Sostaric provides daily reports on the actions of the legislature – reporting on legislative priorities and committees, votes in the chambers, and ultimately, the bills that will be passed during the 2020 session. Her reports can be heard throughout the day on IPR’s News and News/Studio One signals.
  • Mondays at noon, River to River, co-hosted by Ben Kieffer and Katarina Sostaric, is an expanded conversation with lawmakers, those who want to influence policy, and Iowans who may be impacted by legislative action. You’ll learn about why lawmakers are supporting certain priorities. It’s also an opportunity for you to join the conversation to ask questions or share your thoughts. You can join the conversation by calling 866-780-9100 or submit questions via e-mailFacebook, or Twitter.
  • Our weekly podcast Under the Golden Dome recaps legislative action. Reporter John Pemble summarizes the noteworthy activities of the past week. He takes you to the debates, the rallies, and the events at the statehouse, and captures the evolution of priorities and legislation from the beginning to the end of the session.
John Pemble / IPR file

A bill that would allow county attorneys and assistant county attorneys to apply for professional weapon permits is taking a step forward in the Iowa Legislature. With a professional permit they would have the same authority as security guards and private investigators to carry a gun in most places where firearms are banned.

vaping subcommittee
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa lawmakers advanced a proposal Tuesday to ban vaping in restaurants, bars, and other public places where smoking is prohibited.

Amy McCoy is a lobbyist for the Iowa Department of Public Health, which proposed adding vaping to the state’s Smokefree Air Act.

“We’re still very concerned about what this means for the individuals who are exposed to the vapors,” McCoy said. “We would like to see more science happen on that before we see children and elderly and others who are immune compromised exposed. So this was put forward in an effort to protect public health.”

Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The state of Iowa is forming a new public safety bureau focused on preventing school violence, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Tuesday, but the plan depends on lawmakers allocating $2 million to fund it.

“News headlines about school shootings and threats at unsuspecting communities across America are becoming all too common,” Reynolds said. “And although those headlines don’t often involve schools in Iowa, we can’t wait until they do to act.”

John Pemble / IPR file

A proposal that would further protect the identities of children who are sexually assaulted or exploited is moving ahead in the Iowa Legislature.

Under the bill (SF 2005) from Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, assault victims who are kept anonymous during criminal trials could also have their privacy protected during related civil lawsuits. Also, a person who was abused as a minor would be able to hide their identity from the public if they report the incident to law enforcement as an adult.

John Pemble / IPR

In this special edition of River to River, a panel of reporters and columnists from The Gazette analyze the biggest news headlines of the week. Investigative Reporter Erin Jordan and IPR's Ben Kieffer hosted the "Pints and Politics" event before a live audience in Cedar Rapids on Jan. 16. 

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa General Assembly lasts two years.  As legislators pick up where they left off in 2019, we hear priorities from both parties and Gov. Kim Reynolds lays out her budget and policy proposals in the Condition of the State. The first week of this session also has new leadership roles for the majority party in the House of Representatives.

jake chapman
John Pemble/IPR

This post was updated Thursday, Jan. 23 at 11:38 a.m. 

The Iowa Constitution would be amended to say it does not protect abortion rights under a proposal advanced Thursday by Republicans on the Senate State Government Committee. 

Democrats voted against the proposal. It is now up to Republican leaders to decide if the measure will get a vote by the full Iowa Senate. 

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Corell addresses lawmakers in the Iowa House Chamber.
John Pemble / IPR

The adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard says he is focused on keeping up recruiting and training as the state prepares to deploy more soldiers overseas.

Currently, about 100 soldiers and airmen are mobilized with U.S. forces. Speaking before Gov. Kim Reynolds and state lawmakers Thursday, Iowa Guard Maj. Gen. Benjamin Corell said he expects around 2,000 more to deploy in 2020 with units supporting command centers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

david wiggins
John Pemble / IPR

The acting chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court highlighted the importance of respecting government institutions in his Condition of the Judiciary speech before the Iowa Legislature Wednesday.

Acting Chief Justice David Wiggins said he drew on the ideas of the late Chief Justice Mark Cady to talk about the respect the courts have for elected officials. He said both are set up to speak for the people of Iowa in different ways.

John Pemble / IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds called for big changes to Iowa’s tax system in her third Condition of the State address Tuesday, but lawmakers say they need more details before backing her proposal.

Lawmakers gather in the House of Representatives chamber at the Iowa State Capitol.
John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing to raise the state sales tax by one cent as one of her legislative priorities for 2020, but she wants it to be offset by a cut in income taxes.

John Pemble / IPR File

The following is an audio recording from "Talk of Iowa" and a transcript of Gov. Kim Reynolds' 2020 Condition of the State address, as provided by her office. 

pat grassley
John Pemble / IPR

This post was updated Monday, Jan. 13 at 4:52 p.m. 

The Iowa House of Representatives officially elected Rep. Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, as the new Speaker of the House when the 2020 legislative session began Monday morning.

“Over the next 100 days…let’s make sure that we show Iowans that we are not like Washington, D.C.,” Grassley said in his first speech as speaker. 

Michael Leland / Flickr

The 2020 legislative session started Monday, introducing a renewed opportunity for policy changes in Iowa. Iowa Senate and House leaders join River to River to discuss their priorities for the upcoming months. 

John Pemble / IPR File

The Iowa Legislature gaveled in for the 2020 session Monday. Gov. Kim Reynolds will present the 2020 Condition of the State Address Tuesday, January 14, starting at 10:00 a.m. 

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR file

State lawmakers are heading back to the Iowa Capitol for the 2020 legislative session Monday, Jan. 13. This session will mark the fourth consecutive year with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the governor’s office.

Here are some of the topics statehouse leaders expect to discuss this year.

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday all pending voting rights restoration applications from people with felony records will be reviewed before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

Iowa is the only state that still bans all people with felony convictions from voting, forever, unless they appeal directly to the governor.

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Legislature is set to gavel in January 13, kicking off the third legislative session with Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds leading the state.

She wants to focus on policies that will help Iowans getting out of prison successfully re-enter the community. And a criminal justice reform committee appointed by Reynolds recently announced recommendations for that.

“We’re still working through that right now,” Reynolds said. “But I thought the list of recommendations that they proposed were a really good start.”

todd prichard
John Pemble / IPR

The top Democrat in the Iowa House of Representatives says state institutions for vulnerable residents with health challenges need more funding and oversight.

jack whitver
John Pemble / IPR

The top Republican in the Iowa Senate says cutting taxes and addressing the state’s workforce shortage will be major priorities when lawmakers convene for the 2020 legislative session January 13.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, has the authority to set the lawmaking agenda in the 50-person chamber.

janet petersen
John Pemble / IPR file

The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate said she is thankful that federal investigators are looking into possible civil rights violations at two residential institutions for Iowans with disabilities.