The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Iowa

January 8, 2014

Iowa to remove question for felons on form

IOWA CITY (AP) — Iowa is moving to revise its voter registration application to help clear up widespread confusion over felons’ voting rights, according to an administrative rule published Tuesday.

The change, adopted by a bipartisan commission, would remove a question that some voters have erroneously marked indicating they are felons without the right to vote. Another revision would explain that convicted felons aren’t qualified to vote until they have their rights restored by Gov. Terry Branstad. Prospective voters still would have to attest that they are not felons without voting right when signing the application.

If the changes go into effect, as expected, a new application will be in use starting April 9. The state will gather public comment on the proposed changes through Jan. 28, and a legislative rules committee will review them in February.

Anyone convicted in Iowa of an “infamous crime” — including all felonies and some aggravated misdemeanors — loses their right to vote and hold public office. To get those rights back after they serve their sentences, they have to apply for and obtain clemency from Branstad under an executive order he signed in 2011.

“The widespread confusion about voting for people with criminal convictions in Iowa has played out in a number of unfortunate ways since the governor made the policy more restrictive,” American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa attorney Rita Bettis said in a statement. “This change will help clarify the law in Iowa for voters and provide useful information that people with felony convictions can have their right to vote restored through the governor’s office.”

Branstad, a Republican, in 2011 signed an order that reinstated the individual application process, making Iowa among the more difficult states for offenders to win back their voting rights. The move rescinded a 2005 executive order signed by former Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, that automatically restored voting rights to felons once they completed their sentences.

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  • Iowa gets nearly $72M in yearly tobacco payment

    Iowa received $71 million this week from tobacco companies — its annual share of a 1998 landmark legal settlement in which tobacco companies pay states for smoking-related health care costs.

    The Iowa Attorney General's Office says that since 1999, the state has received more than $960 million in tobacco payments.

    April 19, 2014

  • U of I burn center sees jump in ammonia burns

    The University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center is reporting a higher-than-normal number of patients suffering from anhydrous ammonia burns.

    The center says it has treated five people in the last two weeks. The center's medical personnel say they usually only see one or two cases each year. Official say the high number of patients in such a short amount of time is concerning.

    April 19, 2014

  • Officials announce plan for Microsoft data center WEST DES MOINES -- Microsoft will begin construction on a new data center in West Des Moines, state and local officials announced Friday, bringing the company's total investment in Iowa to nearly $2 billion, the largest in the state to date. Gov. Ter

    April 19, 2014

  • Prosecutor says 6 felon voting cases will proceed

    A prosecutor pursuing several cases against felons charged with voting illegally says an Iowa Supreme Court ruling shouldn't impact them.Assistant Black Hawk County Attorney Linda Fangman said Thursday the prosecutions will "proceed as is," despite Tuesday's ruling suggesting that not all felons lose their voting rights. She's handling felony election misconduct cases against six offenders accused of voting in the 2012 election even though they lost their rights. A seventh may plead guilty Monday.

    April 18, 2014

  • Iowa's unemployment rate climbs to 4.5 percent

    Iowa's unemployment rate climbed to 4.5 percent in March as more people entered the labor force.

    Iowa Workforce Development announced Friday the rate was up from 4.4 percent in February. It compared to a 4.8 percent unemployment rate in March 2013.

    April 18, 2014

  • Branstad signs school radon bill into law

    The Iowa Department of Education must gather information from schools about whether they are testing for radon gas under a bill Gov. Terry Branstad has signed into law.

    Branstad signed the bill Thursday to require school districts to tell the department about radon testing by the end of this year. The department must then report to the Legislature by January.

    April 17, 2014

  • Gaming commission rejects Cedar Rapids casino

    The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission rejected a proposed $164 million Cedar Rapids casino Thursday, saying it would hurt existing casinos.

    Supporters of the Cedar Crossing Casino development have said it would give an economic boost to Cedar Rapids and the region. They also argued it would be a catalyst for development in an area ravaged by a 2008 flood, create jobs and generate millions for tax revenue and charities.

    April 17, 2014

  • Iowa Senate race suddenly more competitive

    A catchy political ad and a gotcha video have raised Republican hopes of capturing the Senate seat in Iowa, a prospect that would greatly enhance the party's chances of regaining control of the Senate.

    Republicans are adding the seat, held for three decades by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, to their list of winnable races in the November midterm elections.

    April 17, 2014

  • Iowa board boss cites pressure from administration

    The chairman of the state's Public Employment Relations Board says aides to Gov. Terry Branstad pressured the board to hire a friend of the administration.

    The Des Moines Register reports that the pressure was part of the administration's effort to stack the deck against public employee complaints.

    April 17, 2014

  • Davenport officials arrest 4 in child abuse case

    Authorities say they have arrested four women in connection to possible child sex abuse and pornography at a Davenport trailer park.

    The Scott County Sheriff's Office says the women were taken into custody Wednesday. They are all charged with felony counts of child endangerment.

    April 16, 2014

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