Laura Belin

Exclusive: Iowa governor denied 35 AG requests to join national cases

Governor Kim Reynolds denied 35 requests to sign Iowa on to multi-state legal actions during the first year of an unusual arrangement in which Attorney General Tom Miller ceded some of his authority.

Reynolds refused to allow the state to weigh in on lawsuits related to federal or state policies on immigration, reproductive rights, environmental regulation, consumer protection, gun safety, LGBTQ rights, and access to President Donald Trump’s personal records.

During the same time frame, the governor approved eighteen requests from Miller to join cases involving a wide range of legal matters.

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Memorial Day amid COVID-19

Memorial Day is supposed to be about honoring those who died in wartime service, but this year it’s hard not to focus on the unprecedented (for our lifetimes) carnage of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Sunday New York Times front page on May 24 had no photos, just six columns of text with a few words about each of 1,000 people who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s approximately 1 percent of the official U.S. fatalities, which are almost certainly underestimating the real death toll. As the headline conveyed, the scale of loss is incalculable.

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Iowa Judicial Branch not rushing back to normal practices

Governor Kim Reynolds has enacted three rounds of reopening businesses and venues across Iowa this month already, and bars are next in line to resume indoor service on May 28. The governor has argued, “We have to move forward” as we “learn to live with” having novel coronavirus in our communities.

However, the judicial branch is approaching the COVID-19 pandemic more cautiously. Under an order Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen issued on May 22, in-person bench trials will remain on hold until July 13, and jury trials won’t resume in Iowa until September 14.

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"Projections" on Iowa's COVID-19 website have no scientific basis

UPDATE: Hours after this piece was published, the plus/minus feature disappeared from the state website. Original post follows.

The state of Iowa’s official website for information about the novel coronavirus pandemic incorporated a few tweaks this week. The most noticeable: Department of Public Health staff update various statistics throughout the day, rather than once in each 24-hour period. During her May 18 news conference, Governor Kim Reynolds asserted that the new practice would make data on COVID-19 more “transparent.” Critics pointed out that the frequent updates would make it harder for Iowans to keep tabs on daily changes in coronavirus cases, tests, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Reynolds didn’t announce another addition to the website, which has attracted relatively little notice. Several of the bar graphs can now be adjusted to project the number of daily cases, tests, hospitalizations, or deaths weeks or months into the future.

The trouble is, those projections are not grounded in any principles of epidemiology.

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