Waterloo's "ban the box" ordinance survives in part—for now

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on June 18 that part of the city of Waterloo’s “ban the box” ordinance can remain in effect despite a 2017 law prohibiting local governments from regulating “terms or conditions of employment.”

The city adopted the ordinance in November 2019 to address economic racial disparities. Because African Americans are more likely to have a criminal record, they are adversely affected by job applications that require a person to note whether they have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.

Under Waterloo’s ordinance, employers may not inquire about past convictions, arrests, or pending criminal charges “during the application process,” but may do so after extending “a conditional offer of employment.” The court found that was allowed, because it regulates only “the time when an employer can inquire into a prospective employee’s criminal history,” which is not “a term or condition of employment.”

However, the Iowa Supreme Court held that state law preempts other portions of Waterloo’s ordinance, which prohibit employers from making an “adverse hiring decision” based on an applicant’s criminal history.

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Business community losing influence in Iowa local elections?

Rachel Junck‘s victory in the Ames City Council Ward 4 runoff election on December 3 was historic in two ways. The 20-year-old engineering major is the youngest second-youngest woman elected to any office in Iowa* and the first female Iowa State University student to win a seat on the council of our state’s seventh-largest city.

The outcome in Ames was also in line with a recent trend: candidates with strong ties in business circles have not performed as well in local elections in larger Iowa communities.

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Why I’m running

Educator Jonathan Grieder explains why he’s seeking a city council seat in Waterloo. -promoted by Laura Belin

It was a cold February Sunday in 2018 when I became a dad. Holding my daughter for the first time was world changing. Here was this small human who looked so much like my wife that it took my breath away. And she would need us for so many things in the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years ahead. And here she was in a tiny hat, wrapped in blankets. Parenthood is many things, but it certainly sets your priorities through a new facet.

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