Common Good Iowa

Session during Covid-19, and legislation making history

June 12, 2020

When the Iowa legislature recessed in March due to Covid-19, we knew things would be different when lawmakers reconvened ... and they sure are. Since returning last week, the legislature has tried to make accommodations for the public to watch and participate in the process, but the results have been disappointing at times, and outright frustrating at others.  

House and Senate subcommittee and committee meetings being livestreamed online, including via Facebook and YouTube, and have proven difficult to access. Kathie Obradovich noted in the Iowa Capital Dispatch that one House subcommittee video stream offered "audio that sounded like it was broadcasting from the bottom of the Des Moines River."

Public input at subcommittees is being taken virtually, but we've seen in the livestreams and heard from lawmakers that some submitted comments aren't always being read, limiting Iowans' ability to educate and inform their elected officials. We're also seeing some legislation crafted behind closed doors without public comment or fiscal notes — the nonpartisan analysis that helps lawmakers understand a bill's costs and impacts on Iowans. ...

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