IPR News Stories

Kate Payne/IPR

Local Black Lives Matter activists marched to the home of the Cedar Rapids mayor on Friday. It’s a tactic that protesters in Iowa City and Des Moines have also taken as they’ve successfully pushed for local policy commitments and changes.

capitol protest arrests
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Des Moines police and state troopers arrested at least 17 Black Lives Matter protesters at the Iowa Capitol Wednesday, where violent physical altercations broke out between law enforcement and protesters. Both sides are accusing each other of causing the violence.

Alan Light/Flickr

A Johnson County District Court judge blocked Iowa’s new mandatory 24-hour abortion waiting period from taking effect Wednesday.

“We’re glad that patients can seek abortion care without the burden of state-mandated delay and extra appointment,” Erin Davison-Rippey, Iowa Executive Director of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said in a news release. “I want to be sure all Iowans know their access to safe, legal abortion remains the same.”

State Capitol Ceiling
John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa lawmakers finished the 2020 legislative session Sunday afternoon after a two-and-a-half month pause because of the coronavirus pandemic and an all-night debate to push through a budget and last-minute legislation related to abortion and voting rights. 

Read more to catch up on what high-profile legislation passed and what didn't. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed these into law:

voting sign
John Pemble / IPR file

On the heels of the June 2 primary election that saw record turnout during the COVID-19 pandemic with expanded mail-in voting, Iowa lawmakers passed two bills that have the potential to limit or slow the absentee voting process in November as the coronavirus continues to spread.

The first puts constraints on the secretary of state’s authority to change election processes during an emergency.

nicoleleec / Flickr

We've reached the halfway point of 2020.  It's been a tumultuous year, but we have plenty of good music to encourage and inspire us.  Here are some of our favorites!

Four people stand in front of their cars holding up their right hand. A woman stands in front of the camera so you see the back of her head. She also holds her right hand up.
Kassidy Arena / Iowa Public Radio

The rain in Des Moines allowed just enough of a break for 100 people to become U.S. citizens Friday morning. Due to social distancing guidelines and the risk of COVID-19, their in-person ceremonies were postponed. They instead participated in a drive-thru naturalization ceremony.

Two people look away from the camera wearing face masks. On person holds a homemade sign that says "Protect 800,000 Dreams #AlientoAZ #EDUCATEDAF #InStatetuition
Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

With the Supreme Court upholding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), DREAMers can now renew their two-year permit for deferred action.

It costs $495 to renew a DACA application and during a time of job loss and a global pandemic, that amount seems increasingly more difficult to pay. The Ames Sanctuary Interfaith Partnership (ASIP) launched a social media campaign for their GoFundMe to help DREAMers pay the fees.

sorenly / Flickr

One unfortunate side effect of the pandemic is that group singing is not recommended, as it seems to be a very effective way to spread the virus. Like many others, my place of worship is now meeting on Zoom. Instead of singing together, we get to listen to solos from our choir director. I can sing along from the privacy of my couch and even experiment with inventing harmony parts, but it’s not the same.

I’ve been digging around YouTube looking for interesting examples of traditional group singing to enjoy vicariously. The world has an amazing variety of singing styles, and here are just a few to tide you over until we can sing together in person again.

Demonstrators in Des Moines hold signs supporting the Black Lives Matter movement at a march on June 3, 2020.
John Pemble / IPR

Des Moines Black Lives Matter activists say law enforcement officers boxed them in at a protest Monday night, preventing them from leaving, and then arrested 18 protesters for failing to follow orders to disperse.

“We were planning to do a nonviolent march downtown, then come right back up to our cars and go home,” said BLM organizer Jaylen Cavil at another protest outside the Polk County Jail Wednesday.

BLM activists said police pushed them off of their planned protest route Monday night and into a dark residential neighborhood.

matthew bruce out of jail
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Prominent Black Lives Matter organizer Matthew Bruce has been charged with first degree criminal mischief after Des Moines police accused him of vandalizing a police car.

He turned himself in to police Wednesday morning, was booked into Polk County Jail, and got out on bail.

police car
Diego Parra / Pixabay

The Iowa Police Chiefs Association and the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP have announced a statewide task force dedicated to improving community and law enforcement relationships. 

BRIAN SEIFFERLEIN / Harvest Public Media file photo

A new analysis of drinking water systems shows communities in five Midwest states have legal but potentially worrying levels of nitrates. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found nitrate levels in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, and Oklahoma are trending up.

abortion rights supporters
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block a mandatory 24-hour abortion waiting period from taking effect.

In the final hours of the 2020 legislative session, the Republican-led legislature introduced and passed a bill requiring Iowans seeking an abortion to attend an extra appointment at least a day before the procedure.

Black Lives Matter demonstrators lie face down on Grand Ave. outside of Des Moines City Hall on June 6, 2020 as part of a protest against police violence and the killing o George Floyd.
Grant Gerlock / IPR File

The Des Moines City Council has passed an anti-racial profiling ordinance nearly two years after the first version of the proposal was introduced.

At the edge of a corn field on a clear but windy June day, microbiologist Tom Moorman lifts a metal lid and reveals a collection of bottles, tubes, meters and cables in a shallow pit. The system is designed to capture runoff from 24 plots. 

Ben Wicks / Unsplash

A year ago, the Iowa Legislature created a children’s mental health system, and many were concerned because that system came without state funding attached. This year the legislature experienced an unusual session broken up by the COVID-19 pandemic, and proposed funding didn’t pass. This has left some regions concerned about where that leaves the system now.


Woodbury County will take part in a nationwide effort to promote U.S. Highway 20’s original route by installing historic markers along the section that officials hope will generate tourism. 

Eight commissioners pose for a picture in front of a blue bike sculpture.
Caleb Knutson / Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs

The Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs has started a collaboration with Hola Iowa, a bilingual news outlet focused on Latino communities in Iowa and western Illinois. They loosely named the project “Latinos You Should Know.” The entire issue of the Hola Iowa publication will be devoted to highlighting the work of 20 Latinos of 2020.

kjbax / Flickr

This Sunday is Father’s Day. In honor of that fact, here are five videos of musical fathers and their grown children performing together.

Banners in from of the Supreme Court building say "Homeish" and "Here to stay." There are people with masks holding up the signs.
Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against the Trump administration and upheld Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or more commonly known as DACA. The recipients are known as DREAMers, and those in Iowa and throughout the United States can now stay in the country without fear of deportation.

The decision was close, but by a ruling of 5-4, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to allow DACA recipients to stay in the country without fear of deportation. According to the American Immigration Council website, there are about 2,500 DACA recipients in Iowa and more than 600,000 in the U.S.

Penn State / Flickr

Classical music can feel daunting to dig into if you’ve not had a lot of exposure to the genre. There are lots of terms, styles, composers, and performers, and if you are unfamiliar, it can feel tough to break in. Since schools adjourned due to the pandemic, we’ve been working to create resources for learners of all ages. This summer, we’re going to dig into classical music for the non-classical listener.

There are many composers who have written amazing music, and this is by no means a definitive list. But if you’re just wondering where to start, these incredible writers serve as a great jumping off point and each have enough repertoire to keep you busy for a while.

Matt Alvarez/IPR file

The Iowa City City Council voted Tuesday night to develop a plan to restructure the city’s police department, at the urging of local Black Lives Matter activists. Local officials described the effort as a “major” step towards reducing the city’s reliance on armed officers for nonviolent situations.

Pence Visits Winnebago Industries, Marks Reopening Of Forest City Eatery

Jun 16, 2020
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Vice President Mike Pence says America is making what he calls a “transition to greatness,” as the economy bounces back from pandemic shutdowns.

“After the difficult times through which we have passed as a nation, today every state in this country and nearly three-quarters of America’s small businesses have already begun to reopen,” Pence said early this afternoon in north central Iowa. “We’re opening up America again and you’re part of that story.”

Pence told a crowd in Forest City that all 50 states are reopening in a safe and responsible way.

Duane Tinkey / DMMO

For close to 50 summers, the Des Moines Metro Opera has been presenting knock-your-socks-off performances in Indianola. The DMMO, considered one of the major American summer opera festivals, produces more than 100 performances annually and receives rave reviews from the nationally acclaimed “Opera News” and “Opera Today.”

Since 2011, IPR Classical has traveled to Indianola to interview artists, produce and broadcast The Des Moines Metro Opera’s nationally-recognized mainstage performances.

Due to COVID-19, it was with a heavy heart the company had to cancel its live summer festival season. Instead, the opera is presenting a virtual festival. 

A small rainbow flag is raised above heads. The people are facing away from the camera.
Mark Boss / Unsplash

A buzzword in today’s society is intersectionality. It describes how one person is made up of multiple identities. It includes things like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender, among other things. All of those aspects make up a person.

A rainbow flag hangs vertically in front of a building.
Toni Reed / Unsplash

Iowan LGBTQ individuals celebrated a Supreme Court decision Monday that prohibits workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender employees. About one in five Iowans identify within the LGBTQ community. The decision comes halfway through June, which is annual Pride Month.

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court added sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimation on the basis of sex in the workplace.

Matthew Bruce, an organizer with Des Moines Black Lives Matter, speaks with reporters after meeting with Gov. Kim Reynolds to discuss felon voting rights.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Des Moines Black Lives Matter leaders say Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has pledged to sign an executive order to restore felon voting rights in time for the general election, but that it would not likely happen until late summer or early fall.

Deere and Company

Healthcare workers at dozens of Veterans Affairs facilities across the country have been provided protective face shields made by a John Deere plant in the Quad Cities.

In April, the seeding factory in Moline switched from making farm equipment to PPE.

Project leader David Ottavianelli told IPR’s Pat Blank on All Things Considered Monday that more than 400,000 shields were produced and quarter of them (134,000) were sent to those who care for veterans.

Last-Minute Legislation

Jun 15, 2020
John Pemble / IPR

During the last week of the 2020 legislative session a series of changes about absentee voting passes in the Senate, but the House changes the bill dramatically. A proposal titled "More Perfect Union" is drafted and passes unanimously in both chambers during one afternoon. And in the last 24 hours of the session a newly-introduced abortion restriction amendment passes. Also, the budget is amended with a new requirement about how county auditors must contact voters when there is incorrect voter identification information on absentee ballot request forms.