Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.

Iowa House Democrats release proposals to lower living costs

By: - April 5, 2023

Iowa House Democrats said instead of focusing on “culture war” issues, lawmakers need to find ways to provide relief for Iowans’ rising costs of living. House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst and House Democrats said they plan to introduce a slate of five bills Wednesday on issues from combating wage theft, lowering utility and prescription drug […]

Iowa House sends ‘parental rights’ bill back to the Senate

By: - April 4, 2023

The Iowa House approved an amended version of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ “parental rights” bill Tuesday, returning it to the Senate for consideration of changes related to “age-appropriate” schoolbooks and parental notification of students socially transitioning in schools. The House passed Senate File 496 with a vote of 55-42, with six Republicans joining all Democrats in […]

Gov. Kim Reynolds signs major government restructuring plan into law

By: - April 4, 2023

Iowans can expect their interactions with government agencies to look different starting in July. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed her agency reorganization plan into law Tuesday. The governor said Iowa’s system of agencies and departments will begin working through the processes of restructuring and consolidation in the months before the official enactment of Senate File 514 […]

SNAP, Medicaid tests could keep needy people from aid, advocates tell lawmakers

By: - April 4, 2023

Low-income Iowans and advocates told lawmakers Tuesday that adding SNAP asset tests and identity verification will keep people from accessing food or health care assistance, but supporters said these are necessary safeguards to stop misuse of public funds. The House Appropriations Committee held a public hearing on Senate File 494 Tuesday. Speakers included people both […]

House panel considers tax exemptions for direct care workers

By: - April 3, 2023

An Iowa House subcommittee unanimously supported a proposal to create an income tax exemption for workers who care for people with disabilities. House File 264 would exempt individual income tax wages for employees of a nonprofit organization providing services for people with a mental or physical disability. Lawmakers heard from several disability rights and worker advocates at the […]

Senate committee moves budget bills without figures

By: - April 3, 2023

An Iowa Senate panel approved four budget bills Monday — without any numbers included. None of the budget bills approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee contained details on how much money senators plan to appropriate to Iowa’s government agencies, entities like Board of Regents universities or public assistance programs. The committee — and subcommittees of […]

Here’s a look at which bills survived the second ‘funnel’ deadline and which ones didn’t

By: - March 31, 2023

Many major bills survived the second “funnel” deadline this week at the Iowa Capitol, but Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate hit points of contention on issues like education and liability limits. Republicans came together to pass priority legislation like private school scholarships, a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and government reorganization. In […]

Lawmakers consider banning Twitter, Instagram, other social media for minors

By: - March 30, 2023

A bill prohibiting people under age 18 from using or creating social media accounts advanced Thursday in the House. Lawmakers discussed House File 526 in a Ways and Means subcommittee Thursday. Rep. Phil Thompson, R-Boone, said the bill was “a little heavy-handed,” but he moved it forward with plans for amendment because of the data published on […]

‘Parental rights,’ auditor limit bills move forward as carbon pipeline proposal misses deadline

By: - March 30, 2023

Several controversial bills squeaked through the Iowa Legislature’s second committee deadline Thursday but a few high-profile measures — including limits on liquid carbon pipelines — failed to make the cut. Most policy bills needed approval from either the House or Senate and a committee in the opposite chamber to remain eligible for debate after this […]

School groups say staff would have to review thousands of books if governor’s bill passes

By: - March 29, 2023

Lobbyists for schools and teachers’ groups told lawmakers the provision in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ “parental rights” bill requiring removal of all books with depictions of sex acts from school libraries would be difficult for Iowa schools to accomplish. “I’m not quite sure how we’re going to find all of those books without having to read […]

House panel advances restrictions on state auditor’s access to information

By: - March 29, 2023

Staff with the auditor’s office told a panel of lawmakers Wednesday that proposed privacy protections passed by the Senate would keep the office from effectively stopping and preventing misuse of taxpayer funding. Senate File 478, which passed the Senate earlier in March on a 33-16 vote, would prohibit the state auditor’s office from accessing information […]

Governor signs ‘Rural Emergency Hospital’ licensing into law

By: - March 29, 2023

Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed into law a measure intended to help keep some hospitals open in rural Iowa. House File 75 creates a state licensure process allowing some hospitals to get a “Rural Emergency Hospital” (REH) designation. The designation comes from a federal program, in which hospitals stop providing inpatient services but are able […]