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 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 […]

Private school scholarship program heads to governor’s desk

By: - January 23, 2023

Gov. Kim Reynolds made private school scholarships her top priority for the 2023 legislative session. That goal was reached Tuesday, when lawmakers sent the bill to her desk. Reynolds praised the House and Senate passing the bill, saying she planned to sign it later on Tuesday. “For the first time, we will fund students instead […]

GOP property tax bill focuses on school levy, assessed values and transparency

By: - January 20, 2023

Republican legislators want to reduce Iowans’ property tax costs with new rules on how cities, counties and schools determine value and fund projects. But some of the proposed restrictions would throw Iowa’s property tax system into “chaos,” representatives of local governments said. Republicans in both chambers highlighted property tax changes as a top goal for […]

Here’s how the governor’s budget pays for private school scholarships

By: - January 20, 2023

As Democrats argue Gov. Kim Reynolds’ private school scholarship program would take away funding from Iowa’s public schools, Republicans are pointing to the governor’s proposed budget as proof that support for Iowa’s K-12 system remains strong. Reynolds is proposing a budget of nearly $8.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, an increase over the current […]

Lawmakers debate the cost of private-school scholarships

By: - January 19, 2023

Iowa lawmakers sparred Thursday over the cost of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ private school scholarship plan, which is on a fast track through the Statehouse. Democrats said the program would siphon hundreds of millions of dollars away from Iowa’s public schools. Republicans argued the plan gives public schools access to new money they would not otherwise […]

House and Senate committees advance governor’s private school scholarship bill

By: - January 18, 2023

Committees in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature voted Wednesday to recommend passage of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ private school scholarship legislation, gearing up for floor debates on the governor’s top legislative priority within the first few weeks of the 2023 session. The Senate Education Committee approved the governor’s proposal establishing an education savings account (ESA) […]

House legislators start third attempt to ban ‘gay panic’ defense in Iowa

By: - January 18, 2023

Iowa House legislators are trying for a third time to enact legislation banning “gay panic” legal defenses in Iowa. An Iowa House Judiciary subcommittee unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that would prevent defendants accused of violent crimes from using a “temporary insanity” defense to lessen charges in cases where they discovered the victim was gay […]

Parents, educators speak out on private school scholarship proposal

By: - January 17, 2023

About 100 Iowans, most of them parents or educators, lined up Tuesday to speak during a public hearing about Gov. Kim Reynolds’ controversial plan to fund scholarships for private school students. Republicans are moving fast on House File 68, which would create an education savings account (ESA) program to cover students’ private-school tuition and other […]

Gov. Kim Reynolds calls for Democrats to reconsider new presidential calendar

By: - January 13, 2023

Gov. Kim Reynolds, in her inauguration speech Friday, asked Democrats to “reconsider” their choice to push the Iowa caucuses from the first-in-the-nation spot. “As a Republican, it benefits my party for Democrats to turn away from Iowa,” Reynolds said. “As an American, it pains me to see.” Reynolds was sworn in for her second full […]