The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Iowa

February 13, 2014

Iowa panel backs bill for felons' voting rights

DES MOINES — Felons discharged from criminal sentences would have their voting rights automatically restored under a bill backed by a Senate panel Wednesday.

In a 9-to-6 vote, Democrats on the State Government Committee passed the bill, with all six Republicans on the panel voting no.

The bill would require that voting rights be restored to felons after they leave prison and complete the terms of their release. After his election, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad took action that made Iowa among four states requiring felons to apply to the governor to have voting rights restored. That move reversed a decision by Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack that restored voting rights to felons after their terms were completed.

The issue of felons voting has received attention recently as Secretary of State Matt Schultz has used federal money to investigate people believed to have illegally cast ballots. There have been relatively few cases in Iowa, but those charged have often been felons who said they didn’t realize their voting rights hadn’t been restored.

Schultz also has acknowledged that the state’s system for checking whether former inmates have the right to vote is flawed and needs significant changes.

Sen. Dick Dearden, D-Des Moines, who sponsored the bill, said automatic restoration of voting rights to felons after their terms are completed would lessen confusion at the polls. He said former inmates have already been punished for their crimes and shouldn’t be punished further once they are free.

“The reality is that these people paid their dues,” he said. “They did everything they’re supposed to do. They paid their taxes. They should be able to vote.”

Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, opposed the bill, saying it would prematurely restore voting rights. He said felons should not automatically receive the right to vote, especially if they have not yet paid their fines and court costs.

U.S. Attorney Eric Holder called Tuesday for Iowa and other states to ease rules restricting voting by felons.

 

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  • 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

  • Authorities: Iowa suspect is longtime fugitive

    Authorities say a man being held in Waterloo is a fugitive of more than 40 years from North Carolina.

    The Charlotte Observer reports the man was arrested after the Iowa Transportation Department's facial recognition system flagged his driver's license photo. Authorities say they found information in his residence that identified him as 68-year-old Ronald Dwaine Carnes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Despite ruling, Iowa to bar all felons from voting

    Elections officials will continue to bar felons from voting despite an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that suggests not all of them have lost their voting rights.

    Three justices ruled Tuesday that only some felonies are considered "infamous crimes" under the Iowa Constitution that bar individuals from voting or holding office.

    April 16, 2014

  • Branstad's tax return shows income of $234,907

    Gov. Terry Branstad released his tax returns Wednesday, showing he earned $234,907 and paid $28,298 in federal taxes in 2013.

    The governor and his wife paid $32,085 in federal taxes but are getting a refund of $3,787. Their state tax return shows they paid in $10,285 in taxes but will get a refund of $4,158. In addition the governor and first lady each received $54 back from the Legislature as all Iowa taxpayers did making their total Iowa tax bill $6,235.

    April 16, 2014

  • Iowa workforce chief gave judge positive reviews

    Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert approved positive performance evaluations for the agency's former chief unemployment appeals judge, records show, undermining her public claims that he was a poor manager who decided cases slowly.

    Wahlert sharply criticized the agency's former chief administrative law judge Joe Walsh on April 3, hours after he filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. He contends that Wahlert laid off both him and his wife, who worked in another agency division, after he opposed Wahlert's efforts to change his job into a political appointment and to favor employers over workers in decisions.

    April 16, 2014

  • Cool, wet spring may ease western Plains drought

    A spring forecast of above-average rainfall in parts of the Plains region is raising hopes for a break in drought conditions plaguing much of the area.

    "It looks pretty good for conditions to improve into the early summer," said Sioux Falls-based National Weather Service hydrologist Mike Gillispie about predictions for precipitation in parts of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota.

    April 16, 2014

  • Regents considering Branstad order on settlements

    More than three weeks later, the Iowa Board of Regents is still figuring out how to comply with Gov. Terry Branstad's order to post employee settlement agreements online.

    In an executive order on March 24, Branstad ordered his administration and the regents to post all legal agreements that resolve employment disputes on websites that are easily accessible to the public.

    April 16, 2014

  • Broadband bill advances in legislature DES MOINES (AP) -- A legislative panel has backed a plan meant to extend broadband access to rural Iowans, though an agreement hasn't been reached on language about the placement of new cell towers. The House Ways and Means Committee voted 16-to-9 Tu

    April 16, 2014

  • Iowa Senate approves disabled veterans tax credit DES MOINES (AP) -- A bill meant to further relieve the financial stress of disabled veterans in the state has won the unanimous support of the Iowa Senate. The Senate voted 50-0 Tuesday to expand a homestead tax credit already in place for disabled v

    April 16, 2014

  • Iowa regulators to hold forums on investment scams

    Iowa's insurance commissioner has scheduled forums in Cedar Rapids and Davenport to educate the public on how to avoid investment and insurance scams.

    Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said a May 1 forum and panel discussion at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center would be limited to the first 210 respondents. A similar event is scheduled June 5 in Davenport.

    April 15, 2014

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