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 Senate passes 3% funding increase for public schools

By: - February 2, 2023

The Iowa Senate voted Thursday to give K-12 public schools a 3% raise in per-pupil state aid for fiscal year 2024, providing an increase of nearly $107 million over the current budget year. Republican leaders say they plan to finalize public education funding by Feb. 10. Senate File 192 passed on a voted of 34-15. […]

House, Senate panels move ahead with liability limits for truckers

By: - February 2, 2023

Limits on liability for trucking companies are speeding through the Iowa Legislature. The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday recommended passage of House Study Bill 114, which would place a $1 million cap on noneconomic damages available in lawsuits against the owner or operator of a commercial motor vehicle for incidents resulting in personal injury or […]

A model house with one dollar bills.

Iowa Senate passes bill to fix property tax error

By: - February 1, 2023

The Iowa Senate passed a bill Wednesday to fix an error in a 2021 property tax law that gave local governments more money than intended. Local government officials say the change will reduce total property tax revenues up to $133 million, blowing holes in their budgets. The Senate unanimously passed Senate File 181, a measure fixing […]

Senate panel raises K-12 state aid proposal to 3%, meeting House plan

By: - February 1, 2023

Republican state senators on Wednesday raised their proposed increase for public K-12 school funding from 2% to 3% for the upcoming fiscal year, matching House Republicans’ proposal. But Democratic lawmakers claimed that the single percentage point increase is just a measure to try to make up for some of the funding lost through a property […]

Bills on ‘gender identity’ affirmation, instruction advance in House and Senate

By: - January 31, 2023

Correction: This story has been updated to report that the Iowa House Education Committee approved House File 9 Tuesday on a 14-8 vote. The original story incorrectly reported the vote total and result.  Both the Iowa House and Senate advanced legislation Tuesday that would restrict how schools deal with “gender identity” issues. The House Education […]

Medical malpractice bill advances to House floor

By: - January 30, 2023

Legislation capping noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases could be headed for floor debate in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature as soon as this week. The House Health and Human Services Committee passed House File 161 on a 12-9 vote Monday. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a version of the bill, Senate File 148, […]

Rita Hart: National party’s decision to drop Iowa’s caucuses is not a ‘done deal’

By: - January 30, 2023

While the Democratic National Committee plans to ratify the new presidential nominating calendar in Philadelphia this week, the Iowa Democratic Party’s new chair, Rita Hart, said the early state lineup is not a “done deal.” “There’s many facets of this decision-making process that have got to be figured out, as we see the, you know, […]

Lawmakers advance proposed SNAP changes but say they’ll drop plans to restrict some foods

By: - January 26, 2023

Legislation to stop Iowans from using SNAP benefits to buy products like fresh meat, butter, sliced cheese and bagged salads advanced Thursday despite controversy that made national news this week. After hearing Iowans’ concerns at a meeting Thursday, members of the House Health and Human Services subcommittee said they planned to amend the proposal to […]

Iowa Senate panel approves $1 million cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases

By: - January 25, 2023

As the Iowa Legislature considers tort reform, lawmakers argued over whether state law should respond to individual circumstances or statewide trends when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits. The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended passage Wednesday of Senate Study Bill 1063 on a 11-7 vote, just hours after a subcommittee recommended advancing the legislation. The bill […]

What are teachers being taught? Bill calls for defining teaching terms

By: - January 25, 2023

Republicans’ focus on education reform did not end with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ private school scholarship legislation: Lawmakers are now looking at how future educators at Iowa universities are learning to teach. Lawmakers in a House Education subcommittee moved Wednesday to advance House File 7, a bill requiring Iowa’s three public universities to submit reports to […]

Tenure ban doesn’t advance, but GOP ‘paying attention’ to campus free speech

By: - January 24, 2023

Legislation banning tenure at Iowa’s public universities is unlikely to move forward, but a Republican lawmaker said he hopes the institutions know legislators are “paying attention” to problems like freedom of speech on Iowa college campuses. “I’m tired, and a lot of legislators are tired playing Whack-a-Mole with some of the issues that are going […]

Gov. Kim Reynolds celebrates victory as ‘school choice’ program becomes law

By: - January 24, 2023

After years of debate and a decisive election with school choice at center stage, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed her private school scholarship program into law Tuesday. Students and staff of Iowa private schools gathered around the lectern in the Capitol rotunda as Reynolds and supporters celebrated passing the legislation, which cleared the Senate less than […]