Public Information


Public needs to see for itself how police act

BY: - June 9, 2020

There’s a quiz today. How would the tragic death of George Floyd have been perceived if the encounter occurred on a deserted side street in the middle of the night, rather than on a busy street in a business area in broad daylight? How would our understanding of the events have been different if there […]


Iowans’ voices are being shut out of legislative debate

BY: - June 8, 2020

The three-day return of the Iowa Legislature has done more harm than good to the people of Iowa. Legislative leaders should again suspend their session now and not come back until lawmakers find a better way to balance public access to the legislative process with the safety measures needed to avoid spreading COVID-19. I knew […]

Feds: 1,200 nursing home complaints not properly investigated by Iowa

BY: - June 5, 2020

In the past two years, the state of Iowa has failed to conduct timely investigations into more than 1,200 complaints against nursing homes, according to federal officials. The state has also failed to conduct timely investigations into complaints about hospitals — in some cases taking four months to investigate matters that should have been handled […]

Capital Dispatch files public-records complaint over email request

BY: - May 21, 2020

The Iowa Capital Dispatch has filed a formal complaint with the Iowa Public Information Board seeking access to emails and other records that were requested in February. On Feb. 14, the news organization asked the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals for access to the most recently completed annual performance review of the department by […]


Coronavirus secrecy erodes the public’s confidence

BY: - May 12, 2020

The relationship between government and the governed is a delicate arrangement, even in the best of times. Government wants us to pay our taxes. It wants us to obey its laws and directives. Citizens, in turn, expect certain things from government, things like good schools, parks, law enforcement and protection of the public health and […]

Judicial nominating commission members charge up to $250 each for public records

BY: - May 11, 2020

The individuals who help decide who sits on Iowa’s Supreme Court want to be paid as much as $250 each to provide public access to information related to their work. The State Judicial Nominating Commission is one of the more powerful volunteer committees in the state. It decides who will be the finalists for a […]

Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Grassley joins inquiry into federal response to public records requests

BY: - May 4, 2020

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley has joined a bipartisan trio of other senators in questioning the federal government’s response to public records requests during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grassley, R-Iowa, signed a letter with fellow Senate Judiciary Committee members Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Patrick Leahy, D-VT, to the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy. […]

Reynolds suspends graduation requirements for high-school seniors

BY: - April 10, 2020

Gov. Kim Reynolds suspended state graduation requirements for the class of 2020 late Friday, among 42 other emergency actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reynolds’ action suspends laws “requiring curriculum standards and completion of specific units of credit for completion of a high school program of study, to the extent such provisions would hinder Iowa […]


Information is as vital as face masks during COVID crisis

BY: - March 31, 2020

We have all become acutely aware in the past few weeks why masks and face shields, respirators and ventilators are so important for hospital workers and their patients. The supply is not keeping up with the need, and that could have dire consequences for the doctors, nurses and patients. Likewise, the coronavirus crisis has underscored […]


Don’t let the ‘new normal’ leave the public out of public business

BY: - March 30, 2020

The news that the State Capitol was closing to the public due to the coronavirus outbreak was just one in a stream of emails from government agencies over the past two weeks announcing they would be conducting the people’s business while temporarily ending the people’s access to public offices. Social distancing is important right now […]

How accountable are private groups that conduct public business?

BY: - February 17, 2020

A tiny, four-acre plot of land in western Iowa is at the center of a dispute that could have major implications for private organizations that perform basic governmental functions. Under Iowa law, private organizations that are paid by cities and counties to conduct the business of government are typically treated as public entities subject to […]

Public information board warns against document-request restrictions

BY: - February 13, 2020

The Iowa Public Information Board is asking all state agencies to refrain from requiring that information requests be put in writing and submitted through an online portal. Last month, the Iowa Capital Dispatch filed a complaint with IPIB about the public-access policies of Iowa Workforce Development. Like other state agencies, IWD now requires individuals who […]