Katie Akin

Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.

Committee approves $20 million increase for prisons as Reynolds promises Anamosa investigation

By: and - April 7, 2021

The House Appropriations Committee approved a $34.6 million increase in the proposed budget for state justice systems Wednesday, including what a lawmaker called “possibly a record increase” of $20.5 million for state prison salaries and staffing. Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, called the proposal a “culmination” of his 11 years overseeing this budget.  “It’s not […]

Reynolds vows to prohibit ‘vaccine passports’ in Iowa

By: - April 7, 2021

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday she plans to take legislative or executive action to forbid the use of “vaccine passports” to prove individuals had received the COVID-19 vaccine. Reynolds encouraged Iowans to get vaccinated as soon as possible, taking whichever form of the vaccine they could find. But, she emphasized, deciding to be vaccinated […]

Bill to reduce income and property taxes, change mental health funding passes Senate

By: - April 6, 2021

The Senate passed a wide-ranging bill Tuesday evening that would change how the state funds mental health services, accelerate tax cuts and reduce tax breaks for preserved forest land. “People need property tax relief. People also come forward, year after year, and say we need a better way to fund mental health,” Sen. Dan Dawson, […]

Two weeks after Anamosa attack, lawmakers, union reps spar over prison funding

By: - April 6, 2021

The number of the day was $20 million. That’s how much House Republicans want to increase funding for the state prison system. Rep. Gary Worthan, chair of the Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee, said the Department of Corrections asked for slightly over $22 million to do salary adjustments for the fiscal year that begins July 1, […]

Lawmakers wrestle with tech challenges in legislation and at their desks

By: - April 6, 2021

When Rep. Steven Hansen, D-Sioux City, began his first term in 1987, two lawmakers would share each desk phone. It was a “big deal,” he said, when each legislator got their own phone. Hansen left the Legislature in 2002 and returned in 2021 to a surprise: There weren’t any desk phones at all. “Everybody is […]

COVID-19 cases fall, but hospitalizations and deaths remain elevated

By: - April 5, 2021

Iowa’s new COVID-19 cases fell from a spike last week, but hospitalizations and deaths remain high. Iowa’s COVID-19 cases were down 6% over the last seven days, the Washington Post reported Monday. The decrease follows a sharp increase last week, when cases were up 33.7% compared to the week before. Hospitalizations and deaths, however, have […]

Reynolds signs permitless carry, firearm industry immunity bills into law

By: - April 2, 2021

Iowans will no longer need a permit to acquire or carry a handgun under legislation signed Friday by Gov. Kim Reynolds. The law changes Iowa’s gun permitting requirements. Prior to this law, an individual would undergo a background check to get a permit to acquire or a permit to carry for pistols and revolvers. When […]

What bills survived Iowa’s second funnel deadline? Several legislative priorities still in the works

By: - April 2, 2021

Twelve weeks, hundreds of bills and several late-night debates later, another major legislative deadline has come and gone, but several big-ticket bills remain in play. The legislative deadline known as the “funnel” takes place at the end of the eighth and 12th weeks of Iowa’s legislative session. For bills to pass the second funnel, they […]

Mental health funding bill advances in back-to-back meetings

By: - April 1, 2021

A wide-ranging tax bill that includes a shift in mental health funding moved through back-to-back meetings on Thursday morning, marking the proposal eligible for floor debate. Senate File 587 would change how Iowa funds mental health services, accelerate income tax cuts and reduce tax breaks for preserved forest land. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 12-8 […]

Lawmakers work to soften governor’s controversial biofuels bill

By: - March 31, 2021

An Iowa House committee approved a retooled version of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ controversial biofuels mandate proposal on Wednesday. Fuel retailers rallied against Reynolds’ initial proposal, arguing that making the changes required under the bill could cost gas stations up to $1 billion in upgrades. CEO Ronald Langston of FUELIowa said his group was not consulted […]

Grocers, environmental advocates spar as bottle bill changes move through Senate

By: - March 31, 2021

Grocery lobbyists commended a bottle bill proposal moving through the Iowa Senate, but redemption centers and environmental advocates still have concerns. Senate File 470 would make it optional for grocery stores to offer can and bottle redemption if they are within 20 miles of a redemption center. It would also raise handling fees from 1 […]

Several controversial education bills to survive legislative deadline

By: - March 30, 2021

The Senate Education Committee moved seven bills Tuesday, including a contentious “divisive concepts” ban, keeping them viable ahead of this week’s legislative deadline. Most bills, except those dealing with the state budget or taxes, are subject to this week’s second “funnel” deadline. That means they must pass either the House or Senate and make it […]