Who benefits from Iowa's new law on candidate ballot order?

If you’re among the hundreds of thousands of Iowans who received absentee ballots in the mail this week or voted early in person, you may have noticed that one party’s candidates were listed first on all of the races for federal and state offices. Perhaps the ballot order differed from your expectations; Republican candidates got top billing in several large, Democratic-leaning counties.

How did that happen?

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State seeking federal exemption for Iowa's medical cannabis program

Carl Olsen, the founder of Iowans for Medical Marijuana, brings us up to date on his efforts to reconcile state and federal drug laws. -promoted by Laura Belin

Retail sales of medical cannabis products began in Iowa on December 1, 2018, implementing Iowa House File 524, which lawmakers passed on the final day of the 2017 legislative session.

Iowans for Medical Marijuana submitted an application to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in January 2019, seeking to exempt Iowa’s Medical Cannabis Program from federal drug laws. That application used the process in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1307, 21 C.F.R. §1307.03. I then began to lobby the state legislature and the Iowa Department of Public Health to support the application.

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Republicans have underfunded Iowa's State Hygienic Lab for years

Staff at Iowa’s State Hygienic Laboratory have been working around the clock to process tests that reveal the scope of the novel coronavirus epidemic. Governor Kim Reynolds has often lauded their “yeoman’s work” at her daily news conferences.

But as former Vice President Joe Biden famously said, “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” In real terms, state support for a facility critical to Iowa’s COVID-19 response dropped considerably over the last decade.

The Iowa legislature hasn’t increased dollars allocated to the State Hygienic Lab since 2013, when Senate Democrats insisted on doing so. Not only has state funding failed to keep up with inflation since then, the laboratory’s annual appropriation has yet to recover from a mid-year budget cut in 2018.

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Court strikes down Iowa law denying sex ed funding to Planned Parenthood

Iowa Republicans were too clever by half when they slipped language targeting Planned Parenthood into a budget bill last year. Instead of prohibiting state agencies from awarding sex education grants to all entities that provide abortions, GOP lawmakers wrote an exception into the law so that UnityPoint facilities could remain eligible for the funding.

For that reason, a Polk County District Court determined this week that the prohibition violated the Iowa Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.

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The 19 Bleeding Heartland posts that were most fun to write in 2019

Before the new political year kicks off with the Iowa legislature convening and Governor Kim Reynolds laying out her agenda, I need to take care of some unfinished business from 2019.

When I reflect on my work at the end of each year, I like to take stock of not only the most popular posts published on this website and the ones I worked hardest on, but also the projects that brought me the most joy. I’ve found this exercise helps guide my editorial decisions on the many days when I have time to write up only one of several newsworthy stories.

Among the 348 posts I wrote last year, these were some of my favorites:

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