Laws and Policy

Flickr / Eli Feldblum

Florida-based Global Travel International Inc. has reached an agreement with the Iowa Attorney General’s office to pay nearly $45,000 in refunds to Iowans. The buying club advertises savings on retail or travel-related purchases.

Attorney General Tom Miller alleges that starting in 2008, Global Travel enrolled Iowans without giving specific notices or disclosures. As a result people were charged monthly membership fees without the proper consent.

Katherine Perkins / IPR

The Clean Air Act was most recently amended in 1990, with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Is that kind of sweeping environmental policy possible today? 

Michael Dorausch

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Davenport’s Palmer College of Chiropractic discriminated against a blind student when the school did not provide accommodations for his disability.

A few years before Aaron Cannon entered Palmer’s graduate program, the school started requiring students to read and interpret X-rays, to meet industry standards.

Cannon told the school he could complete the course work with the assistance of a sighted aid. Palmer said this wouldn’t suffice since the aid would be interpreting X-rays by describing photos to Cannon. 

Zachary Korb

A class-action lawsuit that could involve thousands of Iowans has been filed against HealthPort Technologies.

The Georgia-based company is a medical records and billings statement provider.  The suit alleges HealthPort overcharges costumers for duplications of their medical records and billing statements.

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs is James Bisconglia of the Des Moines law firm LaMarca & Landry. Bisconglia says that Iowa Code limits the amount a consumer can be charged for a records request.

Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Bar Association has recommended to the Iowa State Supreme Court that Iowa’s law schools should institute a “diploma privilege” for graduates of Iowa's law schools, meaning that graduates wouldn’t have to take the bar exam to practice law in the state.

Is allowing lawyers who haven’t passed a bar exam to practice a good idea? President of the Iowa State Bar Association Guy Cook says it’s an overdue change, “Iowa’s bar exam doesn’t test knowledge of Iowa law. This proposal wouldn’t work everywhere, but in Iowa, it could.”

Host Ben Kieffer examines several cases before the Iowa Supreme Court this term dealing with a wide breadth of issues including HIV criminalize, solar energy, defamation in campaign ads, and the

Lea VanderVelde

In 1857 the Supreme Court ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford that a slave could not sue for his freedom. Many call this ruling the worst Supreme Court decision of all time. 

Durrie Bouscaren

Host Ben Kieffer covers a number of topics in a roundup of the week's news including a conversation with Iowa Public Radio's Cedar Rapids reporter Durrie Bouscaren on how Iowa military contractors have been affected by the s

National Institutes of Health

The Iowa Department of Public Health estimates that 500 Iowans are infected with HIV, but don’t know it.  On this River to River, hear about efforts to get every Iowan tested for HIV, what prevention measures are being used today, treatment, and what it means to have HIV and AIDS today.  And we’ll hear about Iowa’s HIV transmission law and the case of a gay Iowan man living with HIV who was charged with criminal transmission of HIV.

Gerry Chamberlin

In 1965, 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker arrived at her Des Moines junior high wearing a black armband to protest the Vietnam War.  Little did she know that this simple act would lead to a historic and controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Iowa Department of Education

As the Iowa Department of Education releases its annual State Report Card, officials say they should be graded differently.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

In 2010 three Iowa Supreme Court Justices lost their election for retention.  The defeat sparked major changes which increased transparency and public outreach at the state’s highest court.  Today Sarah Boden fills in for Ben Kieffer and discusses this new era of transparency with Todd Pettys of the University of Iowa's College of Law.

Ames Historical Society website

In this archive edition of Talk of Iowa, hear about the legacy of Maria Pearson and her contributions to the Native American repatriation movement. While Pearson was not directly involved with the writing of ​the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act  (NAGPRA), her work in Iowa and around the country was a catalyst for the passage of the law. 

elycefeliz / Flickr

With George Zimmerman recently acquitted of murder in the death Trayvon Martin host Ben Kieffer looks at the role juries play in the U.S. justice system.  What are the origins of the jury and how have juries evolved over the centuries.  Also, what does the recent flourish of media attention aimed at the jurors for the Zimmerman trial reveal and distort about jury duty?

The U.S. Senate reached a deal to avoid the so-called "nuclear option," which would've changed Senate rules and prohibited filibuster on nominees.  The new deal will allow nominations to face an up or down vote.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College and Tim Hagle of University of Iowa about the deal and what it means.  They also discuss calls to repeal "stand your ground" laws in the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal.

Flickr / zamburak

On May 12, 2008 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement descended on Agriprocessors, a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, IA.  The raid resulted in the deportation of over 300 individuals—the largest immigration raid in Iowa’s history.  River to River looks back on the raid to examine how its affected the community of Postville and the families who were torn apart five years ago.  Also, what can be learned from Postville that can inform understanding on comprehensive immigration reform?

Clay Masters / IPR

Democrats in the Iowa senate say they’re extending an olive branch to Republican Governor Terry Branstad regarding their proposal to expand Medicaid in the state. The governor is opposed to expanding the joint federal state healthcare program for the poor mainly because he doesn’t believe the feds can continue to pay for it. Democrats are offering an opt-out provision in case federal funding levels would change.

Zach Wahls / Facebook

Just last year BSA reaffirmed its policy that gay members and gay or lesbian leaders are prohibited from participation. However, now the BSA is considering revising that policy so that each local chapter can individually decide its policy on gay membership. Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, who is one of the national leaders encouraging the Boy Scouts to be more inclusive.

Gun Laws In Iowa

Jan 11, 2013
Jessica Quinn / Flickr

This week Vice President Biden’s gun violence task force continues to meet to discuss a set of proposals about gun violence. Ben Kieffer talks about discussions on the federal and state level about gun control.

Barack Obama / Flickr

How is Barak Obama represented in popular culture? Ben Kieffer talks with two University of Iowa graduate students who’ve written a book about the 44th President as a lens through which we can see not only politics, but also art and music.Then, Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa with the latest political analysis of the Connecticut school shooting and fiscal cliff negotiations.

Mark Davitt / Flickr

Michigan is now a so-called right-to-work state, signing into law a bill that prevents unions from requiring employees to pay dues, even in unionized workplaces. It’s being called a political defeat for unions. Will the effects ripple into Iowa?

Ben Kieffer and guests examine the state of Iowa’s unions. Ben talks with leaders of three of the state’s unions, a labor historian, and a state lawmaker.

Dey / Flickr account

After this year’s November election, where voters in Colorado and Washington voted to make marijuana legal for recreational use, people in Iowa are proposing similar legislation.Two bills will be proposed in the Iowa legislature, one on making medical marijuana legal in the state, and one decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of the substance.

Ames Historical Society website

In 1971, a highway crew uncovered the bones of 28 people: Twenty-six were Caucasian. These remains were moved and reburied. Two were Native American. Their bones were sent to the Office of the State Archeologist.

Controversial voter ID laws across the country are getting a lot of attention. Here in Iowa, voter rules approved by Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz are also falling under scrutiny. The new rules could keep some of Iowa’s Latinos home on Election Day. That concern was brought up before a state rulemaking panel at the capitol Tuesday. 

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

Plenty of young aspiring lawyers dream of landing at a high-powered big-city firm after graduating. So an internship in a sleepy, rural town might not sound like a dream summer job. But that’s just what three law schools in Iowa and Nebraska are encouraging their students to consider.

And with new grads facing one of the worst job markets in decades, some say working in smaller towns is looking better.

The Iowa legislative session ended in May but many of the new laws took effect earlier this week. To begin the hour, we listen back to a conversation IPR’s Joyce Russell had with Senate Majority Leader Democrat Mike Gronstal and House Assistant Majority Leader Republican Steve Lukan. Speaking soon after the legislature adjourned, they talk about the accomplishments of the session, what didn’t get passed, and what legislative issues might be on tap for next year. Then, host Ben Kieffer talks with guests about other new laws including changes in liquor regulations and rules of the road.

A Man and a Truck

Feb 10, 2010
Gold Star Museum

Camp Dodge has one of the last, operating, Liberty trucks in the country. One story linked to the rare vehicle details one of the Iowa National Guard’s most difficult missions, enforcing martial law. Note: The new Gold Star Museum is now open for visitors.