Government & Politics

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Iowa’s Texting-While-Driving Ban Not Reducing Crashes, Hard To Enforce

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Iowa’s law banning texting while driving is failing to reduce road crashes, and officers seldom enforce it because of legal restrictions, an IowaWatch investigation shows. Crash history reports from the Iowa Department of Transportation show that since the Iowa Legislature enacted it in July 2011, the law has not decreased cell-phone related crashes. Continue Reading →

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Bioengineers Hope Turning Garbage Into Gas Opens A Green Frontier in Iowa, Midwest

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The thought of turning your dinner table leftovers, old cardboard boxes and even dirty diapers into fuel for your car might sound ambitious, or even absurd. But scientists, bioengineers and profit-minded businesspeople say they can do it. Continue Reading →

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Iowa’s Penalty For Sex With Enslaved Prostitute Has Been Pale When Compared To Drug Charges

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A bill that passed the Iowa Legislature and was signed by Gov. Terry Branstad boosts penalties for human trafficking. Iowa law had considered human trafficking less serious than drug cases. Continue Reading →

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‘Ag-Gag’ Laws On The Rise

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Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting report: Idaho recently became the first state to have both a modern-day farm protection law and an agriculture disparagement, or “veggie libel,” law. Iowa led the nation in 2012 when it passed its own so-called "ag-gag" law. Continue Reading →

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Contradicting Studies On Traffic Camera Safety Impact Make Regulation A Judgment Call

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The “on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand” mix of conclusions from studies and opinions about those controversial traffic cameras has left state lawmakers with this simple fact: Their decision will be a judgment call, not an action on something evident that needs to be fixed. Continue Reading →

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Iowa’s Voter Fraud Probe Becomes A Numbers Game

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One vote can determine an election, Republicans intent on fighting voter fraud say consistently. That thought drives a controversial investigation ordered by Secretary of State Matt Schultz and carried out by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to find fraudulent voting in Iowa. “We have evidence that people have gone to the polls and voted when they weren’t supposed to,” Secretary of State Matt Schultz said. “There are several Senate seats that were decided by 20 votes or less.”

The actual number from the 2012 and 2010 elections is two, an IowaWatch review of the state's voting results shows. In 2012, Senate District 28 was decided by just 17 votes, with Republican Michael Breitbach edging out Democrat John Beard. Continue Reading →

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Net Neutrality Ruling Creates Wide Band Of Uncertainty About Internet Access

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This story is reprinted with permission from The Courier (Waterloo-Cedar Falls). Courier reporter Mike Anderson is a former IowaWatch reporter.CEDAR FALLS -- Depending on who you ask, the free and open structure of the Internet may be on the verge of a massive transformation. It’s been nearly a month since a federal court struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules, a set of principles that prohibited Internet service providers from tampering with the traffic flowing over their networks. Net neutrality advocates are waiting for the next shoe to drop, while Internet service providers in Iowa and across the country continue to insist it won’t. “We’re doing what we did yesterday,” said Tom Larsen, the group vice president of legal affairs for Mediacom. Continue Reading →

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Expect No Farm Safety Legislation This Year In Iowa

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Support from Iowa lawmakers for stricter farm safety regulation does not exist in the new legislative session. This is despite agriculture being Iowa’s deadliest occupation and limited Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforcement and coverage. No one is pushing for state remedies, or calling for a federal government they distrust to improve farm safety to step in. Moreover, Gov. Terry Branstad says he would not support a new or more aggressive program for agricultural safety. “I think that would be a detriment to agriculture,” Branstad told IowaWatch in an interview at the opening of the session. Continue Reading →

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