Anti-abortion constitutional amendment clears first Iowa House hurdle

Iowa Republicans have enacted most of their legislative agenda with little trouble during the past four years of full control of state government. But a few priorities eluded them, including a constitutional amendment that would pave the way for future abortion bans. Unable to find 51 votes in the state House for that measure last year, the GOP settled for mandating a 24-hour waiting period before all abortions.

The 2020 elections increased the GOP’s majority in the lower chamber from 53-47 to 59-41. Republicans didn’t waste time returning to unfinished business: a new version of the attack on reproductive rights cleared an Iowa House Judiciary subcommittee on January 19.

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The 20 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2020

Since I started reviewing Bleeding Heartland’s most widely-read posts at the end of each year, I’ve had mixed feelings about the practice. My organizing principle on any given day is not chasing clicks, but looking for ways to add value, either by covering Iowa political news not reported elsewhere, or by offering a different perspective on the big story of the day. I try not to be hyper-aware of traffic numbers, so as not to let those drive editorial decisions.

On the other hand, it is fun at year-end to recap the posts that were particularly popular with Bleeding Heartland readers, and I usually find a few surprises.

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Best of Bleeding Heartland's original reporting in 2020

My primary goal in running this website is to provide Iowa political news and analysis that’s not available anywhere else. I’m proud of what Bleeding Heartland accomplished in 2020 and want to highlight some of the investigative reporting and accountability journalism published first or exclusively here.

A forthcoming post will review the site’s most popular pieces from 2020, which included many I worked hardest on or most enjoyed writing.

As always, I’m grateful for readers whose appetite for this kind of reporting keeps me going.

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Iowa justice won't comment on recusal from post-election cases

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Matthew McDermott declined to comment on whether he would recuse himself from post-election litigation involving Republican candidates or party organizations, judicial branch communications director Steve Davis told Bleeding Heartland on November 2.

McDermott should decline to hear such cases, in light of his past legal work for Republican entities and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst.

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Iowa Supreme Court rejected calls to stop in-person bar exam

Aspiring lawyers gathered in Des Moines on July 28 and July 29, for about eight hours each day, to take Iowa’s Uniform Bar Exam in person.

More than a dozen states, accounting for about two-thirds of exam takers, postponed or otherwise altered plans to administer the grueling two-day test that determines where attorneys can practice law.

However, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected calls to shift to an online exam or offer a limited “diploma privilege” so that graduates of the University of Iowa or Drake University law schools could practice in this state without passing the bar. Instead, the judicial branch’s Office of Professional Regulation took several steps to reduce the chance exam takers could spread COVID-19 to one another.

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