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Stories about Iowa

Iowa governor signs law to reduce duration of unemployment insurance benefits

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed HF 2355 on June 16, reducing the maximum length of unemployment insurance payments from 26 weeks to 16 weeks starting July 3. The law also re-defines suitable work and will require claimants to accept jobs that pay less than their previous jobs after their first week of benefits. Workers who claim unemployment insurance longer will have to take jobs that pay a lower percentage of their previous wages or salaries.

Workers who file for benefits before the week of July 3 will still be eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits, but they will have to comply with the new suitable work requirements.

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

For more information on Iowa’s unemployment insurance program, click here. For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.

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Franken wins Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa

Michael Franken defeated Abby Finkenauer and Glenn Hurst in the June 7 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa and will face incumbent Chuck Grassley (R), first elected in 1980, in the general election.

According to the Des Moines Register‘s Tim Webber and Stephen Gruber-Miller: “Former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer entered the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate as the perceived frontrunner to challenge Grassley in November’s general election, but Franken pulled off an upset victory on Tuesday, with support that extended broadly throughout the state.”

Franken is a retired three-star U.S. Navy Admiral. He ran in the 2020 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and lost to Theresa Greenfield. Franken campaigned on protecting voting rights and expanding federal programs for older Iowans, including Medicare. Franken said, “My family used military, my brother-in-law and myself, to go to college and do bigger things than what rural Lebanon, Iowa offered. My broad perspective is a product of exposure.” Franken said he appealed to “that middle segment who want logical, pragmatic, smart, dedicated, national servants to work for them. Leader servants. I believe I’m that person.”

Finkenauer represented Iowa’s 1st Congressional District from 2019 to 2021. At the time of her election to the U.S. House, Finkenauer was, at age 29, the second-youngest woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress. She campaigned on term limits, saying members of Congress should not serve for more than 12 years. Finkenauer said, “when January 6 happened, that’s where everything changed for me. Because I saw as we had somebody sitting there, at that point for 45 years, Senator Grassley pushed conspiracies about the election. Not even talk about the truth and actually, you know, bring people together after that moment.”

Hurst was a family physician who also served as the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Rural Caucus. He campaigned on Medicare for All and investing in rural America. Hurst said he was “a progressive candidate in this race that is different from the other candidates” because he supported Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. He said candidates in Iowa have lost because “they didn’t appeal to that desire for change.”



Nunn wins IA-03 Republican primary

Zach Nunn defeated Nicole Hasso and Gary Leffler in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District on June 7, 2022. With more than 95% of precincts reporting, Nunn had received 66% of the vote to Hasso’s 19% and Leffler’s 15%.

Heading into the primary, Nunn and Hasso led in endorsements and fundraising. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), and Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed Nunn. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) endorsed Hasso. Nunn and Hasso both reported six-figure fundraising to the Federal Elections Commission, while Leffler did not report any contributions.

Nunn, an Iowa state senator and Air Force veteran, said he is running for Congress to “stand up for our brave men and women in uniform, fight for safe neighborhoods and to secure our border.” According to KCCI‘s Amanda Rooker, “[Nunn] says his mission is to strengthen the economy and national defense.”

Hasso, a financial services professional, said she ran “to support our police, protect innocent life, defend our right to keep and bear arms, fight for lower taxes, smaller government, and better opportunities for all Americans.” Rooker wrote, “[Hasso said] her top priorities are tackling inflation and securing the border.”

Democratic incumbent Cindy Axne was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, defeating incumbent David Young (R) 49.3%-47.1%. In a 2020 rematch, Axne defeated Young 48.9% to 47.5%.

As of May 31, major independent observers rated the general election as a toss-up. After Nunn won the Republican primary, Dave Wasserman—U.S. House editor for the Cook Political Report—and Kyle Kondik—managing editor of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball—tweeted that their publications would change the rating of the general election in Iowa’s 3rd District from toss-up to lean Republican.

After redistricting, Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District gained nine counties that voted for former President Donald Trump (R) in the 2020 election. The district voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.



Three candidates running for Republican nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District

Nicole Hasso, Gary Leffler, and Zach Nunn are running in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District on June 7, 2022. Hasso and Nunn lead in endorsements and fundraising.

According to the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel, “It’s been a relatively low-key primary race ahead of what is expected to be one of the hottest general election contests in the country. The three Republicans have been quietly campaigning across the newly configured 3rd Congressional District and raising money, preferring to focus their ire on [Democratic incumbent Cindy Axne] than each other.”

Hasso, a financial services professional, said she is running “to support our police, protect innocent life, defend our right to keep and bear arms, fight for lower taxes, smaller government, and better opportunities for all Americans.” According to KCCI’s Amanda Rooker, “[Hasso] says her top priorities are tackling inflation and securing the border.” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) endorsed Hasso in August 2021, calling her an “outsider who will take on the Washington swamp and will help fight back against the left’s extremist agenda.”

Nunn is an Iowa state senator and Air Force veteran who owns a marketing business and commands an intelligence squadron in the Iowa Air National Guard. Nunn said he is running to “stand up for our brave men and women in uniform, fight for safe neighborhoods and to secure our border.” According to Rooker, “[Nunn] says his mission is to strengthen the economy and national defense.” Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), and Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed Nunn. Crenshaw said, “I’m supporting Zach because I know that he’ll continue to defend our freedom and liberties as we both have done on the battlefield and now in public service.”

Axne was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, defeating incumbent David Young (R) 49%-47%. In a 2020 rematch, Axne won re-election with 49% of the vote to Young’s 48%.

Major independent observers rated the general election as a toss-up. After redistricting, Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District gained nine counties that voted for former President Donald Trump (R) in the 2020 election. The district voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.



Three candidates running Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa

Abby Finkenauer, Michael Franken, and Glenn Hurst are running in the June 7 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa. The incumbent is Chuck Grassley(R), who was first elected in 1980.

Finkenauer represented Iowa’s 1st Congressional District from 2018 to 2021. At the time of her election to the U.S. House, Finkenauer was, at age 29, the second-youngest woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress. She has campaigned on term limits, saying members of Congress should not serve for more than 12 years. Finkenauer said, “when January 6 happened, that’s where everything changed for me. Because I saw as we had somebody sitting there, at that point for 45 years, Senator Grassley pushed conspiracies about the election. Not even talk about the truth and actually, you know, bring people together after that moment.”

Franken is a retired three-star U.S. Navy Admiral. He ran in the 2020 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and lost to Theresa Greenfield. Franken has campaigned on protecting voting rights and expanding federal programs for older Iowans, including Medicare. Franken has said, “My family used military, my brother-in-law and myself, to go to college and do bigger things than what rural Lebanon, Iowa offered. My broad perspective is a product of exposure.” Franken said he appeals to, “that middle segment who want logical, pragmatic, smart, dedicated, national servants to work for them. Leader servants. I believe I’m that person.”.

Hurst is a family physician who also serves as the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Rural Caucus. He has run on Medicare for All and investing in rural America. Hurst said he is “a progressive candidate in this race that is different from the other candidates” because he supports Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. He said candidates in Iowa have lost because “they didn’t appeal to that desire for change.”



Iowa State Legislature adjourns 2022 session; three constitutional amendments could appear on 2024 ballot

The Iowa State Legislature adjourned its 2022 legislative session at 12:16am on May 25, 2022.

During the 2021-2022 legislative session, the General Assembly passed three constitutional amendments, which may appear on the 2024 ballot if they are passed a second time by the General Assembly during its 2023-2024 legislative session.

One amendment would provide that if the governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office, the lieutenant governor would assume the office of governor for the remainder of the term, thereby creating a vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor. Currently, in Iowa, if the governor leaves office, the lieutenant governor becomes responsible for fulfilling the duties and assumes the powers of the governor, but does not have the authority to appoint a new lieutenant governor.

Another amendment would provide that only a citizen of the U.S., rather than every citizen of the U.S., can vote in Iowa. It would also provide that 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election may vote in primary elections. In 2018 and 2020, constitutional amendments to state that only a citizen (rather than every citizen) can vote were approved in four states: Florida, Alabama, Colorado, and North Dakota. Similar amendments were proposed for the 2022 ballot in Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The third amendment passed by the Legislature during the 2021-2022 legislative session would add a section to the state constitution that says, “To defend and protect unborn children, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the ballot for voter ratification, a simple majority vote is required in both the Iowa State Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives in two successive legislative sessions with an election for state legislators in between. Every two years, half of the state senators and all of the members of the state House are up for election. Iowa has had a Republican trifecta since 2017, meaning the Republican Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the state legislature.

When a constitutional amendment has passed the General Assembly in the first session and thus been referred to the succeeding legislature, the General Assembly is required by Article X of the Iowa Constitution to publish the amendment in two newspapers in each of Iowa’s congressional districts and on the legislature’s website once per month for three months.

Once an amendment is on the ballot, it must be approved by a simple majority of voters in order to become part of the constitution.

A constitutional amendment to add a right to firearms in the constitution was certified for the 2022 ballot after the measure was passed by the legislature during the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 legislative sessions.

During the 20-year period from 2000 and 2020, five measures appeared on the ballot in Iowa. Of the five measures, two were approved and three were defeated. The measures appeared on the ballot in 2000 (one), 2008 (one), 2010 (two), and 2020 (one).

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Iowa sees the fewest candidates running for the U.S. House in at least a decade

The filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in Iowa this year was March 18, 2022. Ten candidates are running for Iowa’s four U.S. House districts, including four Democrats and six Republicans. That’s 2.5 candidates per district, less than the 4.5 candidates per district in 2020 and the four in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census. Iowa was apportioned four districts, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census.
  • The 10 candidates running this year are the fewest candidates running for Iowa’s U.S. House seats since at least 2012, when 11 candidates filed.
  • All four incumbents are running for re-election, meaning there are no open seats this year. 
  • The Republican primary in the 3rd district is the only contested primary this year. That’s the fewest contested primaries since at least 2012, when three primaries were contested. There were four contested primaries each year from 2014 to 2020. 
  • No incumbent is facing a primary challenger. That’s the lowest number since 2014, when no incumbent faced a primary challenger either. One incumbent faced a primary challenger in both 2020 and 2018, and two incumbents did in 2016. 
  • Candidates filed to run in the Republican and Democratic primaries in all four districts, so no seats are guaranteed to either party this year.

Iowa and six other states — California, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota — are holding primary elections on June 7. In Iowa, the winner of a primary election is the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes, even if he or she does not win an outright majority of votes cast for the office being sought.

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Newcomers will represent 31% of Iowa’s state legislative districts next year

Forty-six state legislative districts up for election this year in Iowa are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. That equals 33% of the 134 districts up for election and 31% of all 150 districts in the Iowa General Assembly.

Since no incumbents are present, newcomers to the assembly are guaranteed to win open districts. This is the most guaranteed newcomers to the Iowa General Assembly since 2014.

This year, 41 districts are open because incumbents either retired or chose to run for some other office. Five other districts are open due to redistricting moving incumbents into districts with other incumbents. This can lead to incumbent versus incumbent contests if multiple incumbents choose to run in the same district.

There are four incumbent versus incumbent contests in Iowa this year. In these races, since only one candidate can win, one incumbent is guaranteed to lose:

The total number of contested primaries—including those featuring incumbents and those in open districts—reached its highest point since 2014.

This year, there are 44 contested primaries—13 Democratic primaries and 31 for Republicans. For Democrats, this is up from 12 in 2020, an 8% increase. For Republicans, the number increased 94% from 13 in 2020 to 31 in 2022.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state legislative office in Iowa this year was March 18. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 100 House districts and 34 of its 50 Senate districts.

Overall, 254 major party candidates filed: 112 Democrats and 142 Republicans. That equals 1.9 candidates per district, the same as in 2020, and down from 2.0 in 2018.

Iowa has been a Republican trifecta since Republicans won control of the Senate in 2016. Republicans currently hold a 32-18 majority in the Senate and a 60-40 majority in the House.

Iowa’s primaries are scheduled for June 7, the sixth statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

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Iowa legislature approves measure to reduce duration of unemployment insurance benefit

Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate approved a measure on March 23 that would reduce the maximum length of unemployment insurance payments from 26 weeks to 16 weeks. The state House passed HF 2355, and the Senate approved an amended version the same day. The Senate’s version added a one-week waiting period for claimants collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

The House has to pass the Senate’s version before the bill heads to Governor Kim Reynolds. Reynolds has expressed that she would sign legislation to cut back unemployment insurance benefits.

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

For more information on Iowa’s unemployment insurance program, click here. For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.

Additional reading:



Iowa updates eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance program

The Iowa Department of Workforce Development issued a rule on January 10, 2022, that doubled the number of work search activities claimants have to conduct weekly from two to four. Work search activity refers to the requirement that an individual engages in documented efforts to search for work while receiving benefits through unemployment insurance. The rule also reduced the number of qualifying work search activities from 27 to a narrower list of 12.

Unemployment insurance claimants have to respond to calls they receive from state career councilors and may have to meet with a counselor weekly to remain eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Not all workers will have to meet with a career councilor under the policy, but all claimants have to respond if they are contacted.

Unemployment insurance is a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

Additional reading: