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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Newsflash: Iowa politics update


Republicans control both houses of the Iowa State Legislature and the Governorship for the first time in over two decades, and they have wasted no time in introducing legislation to enact conservative policies statewide. In January alone, the legislature saw a flurry of bill introductions including a law that would allow Iowans to legally own machine guns, a bill to abolish Iowa Public Television, one which places a 20-week ban on abortions and another which aims to do away with tenure at Iowa’s public universities.

This past week Republicans continued to move quickly. Here’s a rundown of some of their actions.

Senator Jake Chapman, Republican of Adel, introduced a bill mandating jail time for anyone caught protesting on a highway. The bill is in response to an event last November in which about a hundred protestors blocked Interstate 80 in response to Donald Trump’s election as President. However, Senator Joe Bolkcom, Democrat of Iowa City, believes that Iowa already has strong laws against blocking highways and this bill is merely an attempt to punish those who disagree with Trump.

The Iowa Senate voted 30-20 to defund Planned Parenthood last Friday. All 29 Republican Senators as well as the chamber’s lone independent Senator voted for the measure. Democrats unanimously voted no. The bill still has to pass through the House and be signed into law by Governor Branstad.

Republicans in the House also introduced legislation that, if passed, would freeze Iowa’s minimum wage at $7.25 per hour. Current state law puts Iowa’s minimum wage at that level, but several counties, including Polk, Johnson and Linn have enacted, or have considered enacting, higher county-wide minimum wages. This law would take away counties’ control over the matter and force all workers earning minimum wage to earn $7.25.

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