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Early voting started Monday for the June 5th primary elections for Iowa governor, U.S. representatives, and other offices. It marks the first statewide use of Iowa’s new voter ID law, which was signed into law in 2017.

Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald says if voters register by May 25, they don’t need an ID to vote in-person.

“So you can sign an oath of identity saying, ‘I’m Joe Voter, I’m in the pre-registration book. I either don’t have my ID or I prefer not to give it.’ For 2018, that’s an option for everybody,” Fitzgerald says.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

U.S. House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was in Des Moines Sunday to rally support among party activists for the midterm election. The minority leader was the featured speaker at the Polk County Democrats spring dinner fundraiser.

Pelosi says the party needs to focus on convincing the country Democrats have a “better deal” for Americans.

John Pemble/IPR

The 2018 session of the Iowa legislature came to a close Saturday, creating a new record length for overtime sessions when one party controls the House, the Senate, and the governor’s office.  Lawmakers put the finishing touches on the state budget and approved what Republicans call the most significant tax reform in a generation.

The tax bill, with an eventual price tag of $2.8 billion, passed the House and Senate on strict party-line votes, the last bill to be approved. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A partisan fight has erupted between the Republican legislature and Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller as lawmakers try to finalize a state budget and adjourn for the year.   

Republicans have warned the AG to back off civil suits against the Trump administration, or face a cut in his office budget.  

Miller has joined numerous multi-state challenges against the administration over a range of issues.  

paul pate
Kate Payne/IPR

The state’s top elections official says the state's voting systems are buffeted by cyber attacks. Now Iowa's secretary of state is launching a new partnership to try and insulate the department.

bill signing
John Pemble / IPR

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the country’s most restrictive abortion law Friday afternoon, banning most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

House and Senate Republicans sent the bill to Reynolds earlier this week after back-to-back, late-night votes.

Reynolds signed the bill surrounded by children and Republican lawmakers, while protesters chanted outside her office.

Jen Castro via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jencastro/16345941420/

For Native American advocates, this Saturday is a national day of awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women. Members of the Meskwaki tribe are organizing a walk to remember an Iowa woman who disappeared in 2015.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

Abortion opponents in the Iowa legislature have added language to a budget bill that will divert more federal funds away from Planned Parenthood because the organization performs abortions. 

Under the bill, Planned Parenthood would no longer be eligible for grants for sex education programs.  That follows last year’s legislation banning family planning grants for abortion providers.

If the new legislation becomes law, the health care provider would lose approximately $130,000 from the federal Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention program.      

tom miller
Joyce Russell/IPR

UPDATE: Governor Kim Reynolds signed the fetal heartbeat abortion bill at 3:00 p.m. today (Friday).

As Iowans wait to see if Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds will sign the fetal heartbeat abortion bill into law, Iowa’s attorney general is deciding if he would defend the law in court.

John Pemble /IPR

Democrat Ross Wilburn is Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s diversity officer, as well as an associate program director for Community and Economic Development. He has 26 years of experience in nonprofit and governmental organizations, including serving as Iowa City mayor and a council member. Now, he’s running for governor of Iowa.

He talked with IPR's Clay Masters about Medicaid, water quality and other issues facing Iowa. A transcript of the conversation follows:

Joyce Russell/IPR

The 2018 tax cut debate continued at the statehouse Wednesday with a “walk-through” of the general outlines of a plan agreed to by Republicans in the House, Senate, and governor’s office.

Democrats lashed out against the latest version of the bill cutting income taxes and eventually corporate taxes by $2.8 billion over six years.

It’s a must-do for majority Republicans before they bring the overtime 2018 legislative session to a close.   

John Pemble/IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds does not face a primary election challenger and there are six Democrats running for their party's nomination. But, there's also a primary race for Libertarians this June.

The Libertarian Party of Iowa has full political party status for the first time this election cycle. That's because of a record-breaking showing in Iowa for presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016. There are two candidates running for their party's nomination: Marco Battaglia and Jake Porter.

The farm bill traditionally is a bipartisan effort, but House Republicans’ proposed changes to the main federal food-aid program in this year’s version have struck a nerve. To move it through efficiently, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says he’ll appeal to President Donald Trump.

Floyd County Government. / http://www.floydcoia.org/441/Jail

Voters in a North Iowa county approved a $13.5 million bond Tuesday to build a new jail. More than 68 percent of Floyd County voters signed off on the referendum, clearing the 60 percent threshold needed to pass. Pressure to rebuild the 77 year old facility has been building for years.  An inspector from the state Department of Corrections first labeled the Floyd County facility inadequate in 2013.

shannon lundgren
John Pemble / IPR

A bill that would ban almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected passed the Iowa House late Tuesday night and the Iowa Senate early Wednesday morning following hours of passionate debate.

The bill would ban most abortions after about six weeks into a pregnancy, with some exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, and to save the life of the mother. It now goes to the governor’s desk.

Iowa capitol
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

A new program that aims to reduce jail populations could be terminated under a bill that passed the Iowa House Monday evening.

A bill appropriating funds for the state’s justice system includes a provision that would outlaw the use of the Public Safety Assessment in pretrial hearings when determining whether to detain or release a defendant before trial.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

The prospect of selling gasoline with more ethanol throughout the year remains alive, but likely won’t be approved in time for the upcoming summer driving season.

Most gasoline containing ethanol has no more than 10 percent. A blend with up to 15 percent, called E-15, is available in some places, but in certain markets sales are prohibited from June first through September 15.

In an ongoing push-pull between oil refiners and ethanol producers, President Donald Trump has indicated nationwide, year-round sales of E-15 could be in the works.

senator tom greene
John Pemble/IPR

Senators on both sides of the aisle expressed frustration Monday with the House’s refusal to consider a bill that would expand Iowa’s medical marijuana program.

Republican and Democratic senators have been calling for an expansion of the list of medical conditions that allow a patient to obtain medical marijuana. The bipartisan group also wants to remove the state’s cap on the amount of THC, the most psychoactive component of marijuana, that’s allowed in medical preparations.

Iowa General Assembly Website

Iowa’s decades-old energy efficiency programs will be reduced by about two-thirds under a bill that gained final approval in the Iowa Senate last night, in spite of a last-ditch effort by Democrats to defeat it.  

The Senate approved SF2311 on a strict party-line vote of 28 to 20.    It goes now to the governor. 

Under the bill, a smaller portion of Iowans’ electric and gas bills will go into an energy efficiency fund that pays for rebates for energy efficiency appliances and retrofitting homes.   

Mid-Prairie Community School District / https://www.mphawks.org/midprairie-high-school

A southeast Iowa superintendent is standing by his decision to let a convicted sex offender volunteer in his district. Amid pushback from parents and former students, the issue could cost the official his job.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Reynolds Monday took questions on an upcoming outside review of the Iowa Finance Authority, where Director Dave Jamison was fired after serious allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace.  

Reynolds announced Friday that Des Moines attorney Mark Weinhardt will investigate the conduct that led to Jamison’s firing and any similar incidents during his tenure as executive director.

Initially Reynolds implied that firing Jamison was enough to address the allegations.  

She says she now seeks an outside review on the advice of the attorney general.

Drake University

A former president of Drake University in Des Moines has died. Wilbur Miller played a significant role in shaping the Drake campus we see today.

Miller was a Des Moines native and attended Drake for two years in the early 1940s.

Much of his academic career was spent at the University of Denver, where he taught psychology and eventually became dean of faculty and acting chancellor.

He was named Drake’s ninth president in 1972 and stayed in the job for 13 years.

John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers are in the third week of overtime at the Iowa capitol. Late on Friday afternoon, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds announced she and the House and Senate had reached a tax cut deal. It came on the heels of new information regarding sexual harassment at the Iowa Finance Authority.

university of iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Iowa is rolling out a new plan to combat harassment and sexual violence on campus by expanding education and training for students, faculty and staff and supervisors. The effort draws on a findings from a survey of nearly 7,000 students’ experiences with sexual misconduct.

The Fair Housing Act is marking its 50th anniversary this month. It was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson just days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in April of 1968, and it prohibits discrimination based on the race, sex, religion, national origin, familial status or disability of the person wishing to buy or rent a home.

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Iowa Department of Transportation does not have the authority to regulate cities’ traffic cameras.

In a 6-0 opinion, Supreme Court justices agreed the IDOT cannot order Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Muscatine to remove or relocate traffic cameras. The state legislature would have to pass a law specifically granting the IDOT the authority to make and enforce rules for cities’ traffic cameras.

John Pemble / IPR

Fred Hubbell is an Iowa businessman who was also tapped by Democratic Governor Chet Culver to chair the Iowa Power Fund and be interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development amid the film tax scandal. He has been active in Democratic politics for years, donating to many campaigns and candidates. But, he says listening to Republicans talk about the success of the 2017 session after defunding Planned Parenthood, rolling back collective bargaining rights and privatizing Medicaid was the tipping point that pushed him to become a candidate himself.

nate boulton
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Editor's note: Nate Boulton suspended his campaign for governor on May 24, a day after the Des Moines Register published accusations of sexual misconduct from three women.  This interview with Boulton was conducted in late April.

Two women wheel a grocery cart across the parking lot to a white van, open the door and shove kids’ toys out of the way.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds Thursday released a redacted letter from a state employee describing overt sexual harassment over three years by former Iowa Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison, who is also a longtime friend of the governor. 

Jamison was fired on March 24th, less than 24 hours after the employee came forward.  

Requests have mounted since then for more information about the case, which the letter released Thursday provides.

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