Iowa Senate kicks reporters out of chamber: Why it matters

During the five years of their trifecta, Republican lawmakers shredded a 43-year-old collective bargaining law and overhauled a judicial selection process that had been in place for nearly six decades.

Now Iowa Senate Republicans are tossing out more than a century of precedent by refusing to seat any journalists on the chamber’s press bench. For the session that begins on January 10, they are relegating reporters to public galleries far removed from the action.

Why should anyone care where reporters sit at the Iowa capitol? Take it from someone who has never been allowed to work on the press bench: losing access to the chamber will greatly hinder news gathering in the Senate.

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Iowa House Democrats advised to get COVID-19 tests after session

Top Iowa House Democrats advised members of the caucus to get tested for novel coronavirus this week, House Minority Leader Todd Prichard confirmed on June 19.

“In addition to wearing masks, socially distancing, and going through the health screenings daily during session, we did recommend members get tested following session,” Prichard said via email. He added that his team was “not aware of any members or staff” exposed to COVID-19 at the capitol as legislators wrapped up their work for the year.

Prichard had no comment on Bleeding Heartland’s other questions, related to Republican State Representative Gary Worthan’s absence from the Iowa House chamber beginning on June 5.

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Am I a member of the media? Iowa Republican leaders still say no

A number of readers and some journalists have asked me recently whether I was able to resolve the credentialing problems I experienced last year.

The short answer is no. Despite being warned that their press credentialing policies “suffer from serious constitutional deficiencies,” leaders in the Iowa House and Senate and staff in Governor Kim Reynolds’ office continue to deny me access to resources they provide to most other reporters who cover state government.

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Iowa campaign regulator searching for new executive director

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board will soon hire a new executive director. Megan Tooker, who has held the position since December 2010, is leaving to pursue unspecified new opportunities, she told Bleeding Heartland on November 4.

The ethics board is one of the smallest state agencies and enforces Iowa law on campaign finance disclosures, government ethics and lobbying the executive branch, and gifts to public officials.

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Iowa House, governor have no grounds to exclude me from "press"

Iowa House Chief Clerk Carmine Boal has refused to grant me credentials for the chamber during the 2019 legislative session. Staff for Governor Kim Reynolds have ignored repeated messages seeking credentials to cover the governor’s office or an explanation for denying my request.

Under the U.S. and Iowa constitutions, no government agency or official may restrain or abridge the freedom of the press. Government bodies must apply any media restrictions uniformly, without regard to the content of news reporting or commentary. That’s not happening here.

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