Under the Golden Dome The process of creating policy and law in the Iowa Legislature can be complicated. We break it down and make it easier to understand. Under the Golden Dome provides context, depth, and a better understanding of the legislative session. Learn about elected officials, influencers, and issues on this weekly podcast.
Under the Golden Dome

Under the Golden Dome

From Iowa Public Radio News

The process of creating policy and law in the Iowa Legislature can be complicated. We break it down and make it easier to understand. Under the Golden Dome provides context, depth, and a better understanding of the legislative session. Learn about elected officials, influencers, and issues on this weekly podcast.

Most Recent Episodes

Election Changes and School Boards

A controversial bill proposes changing Iowa's election laws and increasing penalties. It receives a public hearing, then two days later it passes in the House and Senate. Also, a bill from a Senate Education subcommittee advances that would make it easier for superintendents and school board members to be removed if they willfully violate Iowa laws concerning Iowa schools.

Fuels and Elections

A bill about fuel would require gas stations to greatly expand renewable fuel pumps for gasoline and diesel. Opponents of the bill mostly say they aren't against biofuels but implementing the quantity of these pumps especially in rural areas isn't feasible. A 58-section bill changing election laws and penalties fast tracks through Senate and House committees.

Education Appropriations & Appropriateness

The Senate and House pass an increase of 2.4% funding of state supplemental aid for K-12 public schools. The House Education subcommittee advances a bill that would remove some funding from a school that uses material from The 1619 Project and the Senate Education subcommittee advances a bill about gender identity and bathroom use.

Asking for Funds

The three state universities are asking for $26 million more for the next fiscal year. A House subcommittee advances a bill that would not allow public or private colleges to implement a mask or social distancing rule for students and employees when they are off-campus. And the governor's broadband bill is discussed in a Senate subcommittee.

Vaccine Supply and Demand

States decide how to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines. In Iowa, there are two phases that involve nearly one million Iowans. The will be around 50,000 doses per week in February. While it's expected to increase, it will be awhile until the supply begins to meet the demand.

Accessing Subcommittees

The Iowa House and Senate committees and subcommittees are available to the public using video conference systems but both have different rules. There are also changes to the House rules for this new Iowa General Assembly, but those changes do not include amendments from Democrats that would require masks to be worn at the Capitol.

The Conditions Of The 2021 Legislative Session

As the 89th Iowa General Assembly begins, House Republicans have more seats from the November election and the party maintains a majority status in the Senate. With a Republican governor, this is the fifth year for the party's trifecta. As is common in a session's first week, leaders lay out their goals including the governor as she delivers her Condition of the State.

Last-Minute Legislation

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.

Resuming Session Amid Pandemic And Protests

While the session was suspended for 12 weeks, 564 Iowans died from COVID-19 complications. Before returning, the legislative council met to discuss how to come back to the Capitol with new health and safety measures. The Revenue Estimating Conference also met to provide the legislature with a new number on which to base the FY 2021 budget. A legislative proposal, "More Perfect Union" is aimed at preventing violent conflicts between law enforcement and Iowa residents. And a constitutional amendment to restore the voting rights of felons moves forward in the Senate.

Suspending Session

With the coronavirus reaching community spread, Gov. Kim Reynolds and legislative leaders are suspending the 2020 legislative session. In order to do this, first the House and Senate must meet to pass some spending measures and a resolution. In this podcast episode, we bring you the final day of the session before they pause for 30 days.

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