The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Politics Notebook | Iowa House Lawmakers advance bill to allow felons to run for president

Also, Iowa Senate Democrats introduce legislation to regulate Iowa’s nursing homes.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Lawmakers sit in the house chamber during the first day of the 2024 Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Iowa House Republicans advanced a bill Tuesday that would allow felons to run for federal office to prevent former President Donald Trump, who faces 91 felony counts in four separate criminal indictments, from being barred on the ballot in Iowa.

This bill comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide if the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to remove Trump from the state’s primary ballot for his effort to overturn the 2020 election results, which the Colorado court said constituted insurrection, is constitutional.

The bill, House Study Bill 697, would also ban ranked choice voting in the state, ban ballot drop boxes, add more barriers to absentee voting, and other changes to voter registration and terms for community hospital trustees.

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, chaired the panel of lawmakers considering the bill, which based the bill along party lines with the two Democrats on the panel opposed.

Kaufmann, who was a senior advisor to Trump’s Iowa Caucus campaign, said the bill will ensure that voters get to decide who is on the ballot, not politicians.

“Individual states don’t get to play left or right-wing politics with the ballot access,” Kaufmann said. “Voters decide not the Iowa Legislature, it is not our job to decide who is on the ballot. It is the voter’s job. It’s arrogant, frankly, for us to think that we should overrule what they choose to do.”

Iowa Rep. Adam Zabner, D-Iowa City, said the bill puts hurdles for voters but chops down barriers for Trump.

“Frankly, it’s shocking that at the same time we put all those stumbling blocks — force Iowa voters, people in our state to jump through all these hoops while taking away requirements from federal candidates and saying that felons can run for federal office,” Zabner said.

Senate Democrats introduce legislation to improve Iowa nursing homes

Iowa Senate Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday to address worsening care in Iowa’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, which are ranked 49th in the nation, according to a 2023 federal report published by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.

The legislative package includes four bills to improve and expand care options for older Iowans and support long-term care facilities.

Federal nursing home data revealed that Iowa is responsible for more than 4 percent of the nation’s immediate jeopardy and life-threatening situations, despite accounting for 1 percent of the nation’s 65+ population, according to a news release.

“Iowa’s journalists have put a spotlight on dozens of tragic situations and the legislature can no longer ignore this,” Iowa Sen. Claire Celsi, D-Des Moines, said at the press conference. “These are stories that have gripped everyone in the state of Iowa who’s read them and sickened them, to be honest with you. This system that we have is clearly broken, and it’s time to fix it.”

Spearheading the package, Senate File 2304, would require more regular facility inspections, enforce stiffer penalties for violations, and hire an additional 30 nursing home inspectors.

The bill would also increase oversight by creating a safety council and adding citizen review and input into oversight of Iowa’s lowest-performing care facilities.

Additional bills within the package include:

  • Senate File 2306 — Create a study of alternatives to institutional long-term care led by advocates and invest in alternatives to institutional care, including home health care, adult day care, and dementia care specialists.
  • Senate File 2305 — Establish a $15 per hour minimum wage for direct care workers that will rise to $20 per hour and is supported by Medicaid reimbursement rate increases.
  • Senate File 2303 — Increase Medicaid personal needs allowance to $85 per month from current $50 per month.

Sen. Janice Weiner, D-Iowa City, said most Iowans prefer not to enter long-term care facilities, and it benefits them tremendously if they can receive support and services at home or in a smaller, more intimate setting.

“Most people want to age in place and remain in their communities and this bill will help them do so,” Weiner said. “Communities benefit from older Iowans staying there as well. It’s a win-win. Older Iowans cared for us and it’s time to care for them.”

The legislation has been assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee and must see a vote this week or otherwise be killed by a legislative deadline requiring the bill to be voted out of the originating committee by Friday.

However, it is possible that elements of the bills could be introduced later in the session as amendments or as part of the budget process, Jason Noble, communications director for Iowa Senate Democrats, told The Daily Iowan in an email.

Iowa lawmakers advance cost of insulin for insured Iowans

Iowa lawmakers advanced a proposed bill that would introduce a $75 out-of-pocket cap for insulin for insured Iowans.

The bill would cap out-of-pocket costs for insured Iowans at $75 for a 31-day supply of insulin. Under the bill, insulin could be sold for less as well.

The reception to the bill was mixed, with some in support of it while others were undecided.

AARP Advocacy Manager Paige Yontz said the group had been paying attention to this bill, and as proponents of affordability and prescription drug prices believed it was a great step forward.

“We worked a lot with brand names and Wellmark and think we’ve come to a good response,” Yontz said. “So [we] appreciate the input we have here and hope that we can get this moving forward.”

During her remarks on the bill, Iowa Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-Windsor Heights, said she was supportive of the bill, but wanted to know more about how some Iowans may not be positively affected by it.

“I think it’s an important issue, and we’ve been talking about it in the legislature for a long time, so I’m glad to see some legislation on this topic,” she said.

Iowa Sen. Carrie Koelker, R-Dyersville, who has been leading the bill and introduced the bill, said she was happy to continue discussions on the bill, particularly to problems that could be exploited by “bad actors.”

“We’re going to have to amend and put in some of those things to make sure that people aren’t living in fear and don’t have that scare at their fingertips,” Koelker said.


Liam Halawith, Roxy Ekberg, and Alejandro Rojas contributed to this article.

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About the Contributors
Liam Halawith
Liam Halawith, Politics Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Public Policy. Before his role as Politics Editor Liam was a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.
Alejandro Rojas
Alejandro Rojas, News Editor
Alejandro Rojas is The Daily Iowan's news editor. He previously worked as a news reporter covering Johnson County and was the summer executive editor in 2023. He is a senior, double majoring in journalism and political science.
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.