Iowa's Ag Gag 3.0 may get past courts

It took them long enough.

After federal courts blocked two laws designed to suppress unauthorized access to livestock production facilities, Iowa lawmakers approved and Governor Kim Reynolds signed a third attempt to keep animal rights activists from filming or photographing conditions inside farm buildings or slaughterhouses. This time, the legislature finally took the path state attorneys recommended way back in 2011: beef up the trespassing law as applied to agriculture, without reference to speech or expression.

The new law has a realistic chance to survive a court challenge.

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Republicans found shortcut around Iowa Supreme Court on abortion

Spirits lifted in the pro-choice community when Iowa House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl did not call up a constitutional amendment on abortion shortly after the legislature reconvened this month.

Republican leaders wanted to pass the amendment, which had advanced from committee months earlier. When a high-profile bill doesn’t come to the floor, it often means the majority party doesn’t have the votes for final passage.

Indeed, at least three of the 53 House Republicans resisted immense pressure to vote for legislation designed to overturn an Iowa Supreme Court ruling protecting “the constitutional right of women to terminate a pregnancy.”

Unfortunately, the holdouts agreed to a last-minute abortion restriction that may provide a faster way to undo the high court’s work.

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Grassley postures but fails to use real leverage over Trump

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s reputation as a defender of whistleblowers and government oversight has taken a hit lately, as President Donald Trump sidelined five inspectors general over a span of two months and rebuffed the senator’s demand for an explanation.

In an escalation of sorts, Grassley announced on June 4 that he would hold up two of Trump’s nominees until the White House complies with federal law requiring that the president explain in writing why he removed inspectors general.

The senator might have some leverage if he were willing to block high-priority nominees for the administration. But the opposite is true. The same day Grassley took a stand on inspectors general, he and Iowa’s Senator Joni Ernst advanced yet another unqualified judicial nominee.

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1642: "Walls do not a prison make." 2020: Neither do they make a church

Herb Strentz: Churches in the Des Moines area have found ways to remain safely “open” to their members and the community without resuming in-person services. The title references a 1642 poem by Richard Lovelace. -promoted by Laura Belin

Right after President Donald Trump’s aide Kellyanne Conway endorsed “alternative facts” in her January 2017 defense of false statements about the number of people at Trump’s inauguration, Amazon had two additions to its best-seller list: George Orwell’s 1984 and Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here.

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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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