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.

Bills on transgender youths’ medical care, bathroom use in schools pass Senate

By: - March 7, 2023

Democrats questioned whether a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths, which passed the Iowa Senate on Tuesday, would violate the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Senate File 538 contains language specifying that the legislation will not constitute a violation of the Iowa Code’s chapter on civil rights. The civil rights act protects Iowans from […]

Governor’s agency reorganization bill passes Iowa Senate with minimal changes

By: - March 7, 2023

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ state government restructuring bill moved forward Tuesday, despite criticisms from Democrats that the proposed changes would stymie government oversight and accountability. The Iowa Senate approved Senate File 514 on a 34-15 vote. The 1,500-plus-page bill would consolidate Iowa’s current 37 executive cabinet agencies to 16. It advanced after senators adopted one of […]

GOP presidential candidates head to Iowa as party waits for more to join field

By: - March 7, 2023

With more candidates joining the race to take on President Joe Biden in the upcoming election, presidential hopefuls, both announced and considering, are starting their time on the Iowa caucus trail this month The beginning months on the 2024 caucus trail has not been quite as busy as 2020, when several Democratic presidential candidates announced […]

Iowa Senate passes bill increasing child pornography, exploitation penalties

By: - March 6, 2023

People convicted of crimes related to child exploitation and pornography would face stiffer penalties under a bill the Iowa Senate unanimously passed Monday. Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, said the idea for Senate File 84 came up while reviewing current Iowa laws that deal with such crimes. “Most law enforcement in Iowa knows that if […]

Governor’s agenda skates past first legislative ‘funnel’ deadline

By: - March 3, 2023

A majority of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ remaining goals laid out in her Condition of the State address in January survived the “funnel” deadline Friday, with several measures she called for already signed into law. The governor signed her private school scholarship program into law in January, and signed medical malpractice liability limits into law in […]

Lawmakers race against ‘funnel’ deadline to pass bills through committee

By: - March 3, 2023

Legislators ran up against this week’s deadline to pass bills through the committee process, with two House panels working into the early hours on Friday. Committees advanced controversial measures including a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and a loosening of child-labor laws, as well as the governor’s reorganization plan.  Most policy bills needed approval […]

Lawmakers rush over 100 bills through subcommittees ahead of ‘funnel’ deadline

By: - March 1, 2023

Iowa lawmakers took up over 100 bills in subcommittees in the final days before the Iowa Legislature’s first “funnel” deadline. Bills which have not gained approval from a committee this week will no longer be viable to advance this session, with exceptions. In a race to meet that deadline, legislators held 34 subcommittees Monday, 48 […]

Child labor bill advances despite concerns over minors serving alcohol

By: - March 1, 2023

Republicans on an Iowa House panel narrowed a child labor proposal Wednesday that has drawn national attention, but moved ahead with a provision allowing minors to serve alcohol in bars. Democrats argued Iowa teenagers could be exposed to sexual assault through loosened child labor restrictions in House Study Bill 134. But Republican lawmakers said young Iowans are already […]

New York company will administer Iowa school scholarship program

By: - February 28, 2023

New York-based education technology company Odyssey will manage Iowa’s private school scholarship program, Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office announced Tuesday. Iowa is beginning the contract negotiation process with Odyssey, which was selected from four companies that applied to administer the program, according to a news release. The state issued a request for proposals on Jan. 26, […]

Bathroom bills, gender-affirming surgery bans pass through subcommittees

By: - February 28, 2023

Lawmakers moved forward Tuesday with bills banning medical professionals from performing gender-affirming surgeries on minor patients and requiring schools to prohibit people from using restrooms or locker rooms not corresponding with their sex assigned at birth. The bills follow a larger discussion being driven by majority Republicans this session on what accommodations adults can provide […]

Bill would cut unemployment benefits for large families, require more job searches

By: - February 27, 2023

A bill imposing new restrictions on unemployment benefits for out-of-work Iowans advanced out of the Senate Workforce Committee Monday. Senate Study Bill 1159 passed 7-5 through the committee with an amendment. It would require unemployed workers complete between four to six “work searches” each week in order to continue receiving benefits, depending on how many job […]

Bills tackle election ‘fraud’ after county auditors see hundreds of ballot challenges

By: - February 24, 2023

Republicans are moving forward with changes to Iowa’s election registration and recount systems following allegations of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Activists called for better maintenance of Iowa’s voter registration rolls during the 2022 midterm elections, with county auditors receiving hundreds of voter registration challenges. Currently, Iowans can only challenge registrations in the county […]