Weekly News Roundup: Death Penalty Dies, Abortion Ban Moves Forward After First Funnel Week

Also: An indictment made public in the Mueller grand jury investigation into the 2016 election claims Russian operatives tried to influence the Iowa caucuses via social media

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Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

The Informer’s weekly news roundup, presented in partnership with KHOI community radio.

Last Friday marked the first funnel week deadline for the 2018 session of the Iowa Legislature, meaning that any bills that hadn’t made it out of committee by then were dead.

Among those that survived were a requirement that “able-bodied” Medicaid recipients have a job, a ban on most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, anti-protest bills targeting anti-Trump highway protesters and pipeline saboteurs, a call for a constitutional convention of states to rein in the powers of the federal government, a regulation-slashing bill that would one-third of the state’s 160,000 government rules by 2022, and a tax reform bill that would slash the state income tax rate. Also surviving are two marijuana-related bills: one that would reduce possession penalties and the other that would allow for a cannabidiol extract to fall under the state’s medical marijuana definitions. The extract is commonly sold in convenience stores, but Iowa authorities claim its sale is illegal.

Among those that died were proposals to reinstate the death penalty and create a private school voucher program, a bill that would make the immigration status of a convicted criminal public, a directive to the Iowa Department of Education to develop curriculum for elective Bible classes at public schools, and a constitutional carry law allowing Iowans to own and carry handguns without permits. Also dead are bills that would have restored voting and gun rights to felons after their time is served and placed a moratorium on hog confinement construction. Another dead bill would have required law enforcement to issue a press release within a day with the names of people arrested for prostitution and that their vehicles be destroyed if they were involved in the crime.

Mueller Indictment Alleges Russian Meddling with Iowa Caucuses

According to a indictment recently made public in special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury investigation, Russian operatives paid for social media advertisements that alleged fraud in the Iowa caucuses. The indictment reads: “On or about August 4, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators began purchasing advertisements that promoted a post on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Facebook account ‘Stop A.I.’ The post alleged that ‘Hillary Clinton has already committed voter fraud during the Democrat Iowa Caucus.”

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.