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.

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 […]

Iowa House raises trucker liability caps to $5 million

By: - March 28, 2023

The Iowa House sent trucking liability legislation back to the Senate Tuesday with a higher noneconomic damages cap and fewer limits on employer liability than originally proposed. The changes adopted to Senate File 228 represent a compromise reached through weeks of discussion with trucking companies, victims and legal advocates, Rep. Bill Gustoff, R-Des Moines said. […]

Iowa House panels advance bills creating new eligibility hurdles for public assistance programs

By: - March 28, 2023

Advocates for low-income Iowans told lawmakers Tuesday that proposed changes in eligibility rules for Iowa’s public assistance programs will hurt families struggling to make ends meet. Iowa House members held a series of meetings Tuesday on bills making changes to eligibility for Iowa’s public assistance programs. Senate File 494 would add new asset tests and […]

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson nears decision on 2024 presidential race

By: - March 27, 2023

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson plans to announce in April whether he’ll run for president, he told reporters Monday in Des Moines. It was Hutchinson’s third trip to Iowa in 2023 and he’s hired a field organizer, indicating he’s likely to join the crowd of candidates seeking the 2024 Republican nomination. He said his events […]