- 1 Updates
- 2 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 3 Elected Officials
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Obamacare / ACA
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
- 1/28/2017: A Republican lawmaker has pledged to introduce legislation to crack down on highway protests.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Iowa lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- No bills have been identified yet.
Harmful bills proposed by Iowa lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- SF 111 would make protesters who intentionally block highways subject to felony charges and up to five years in prison.
- SF 253 would criminalize abortion care by giving a fetus “the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Iowa.” 
- HF 516 would require voters to show proof of citizenship to vote. This would likely reduce the turnout among people of color.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
- Governor, Terry E. Branstad (R)
- Secretary of State, Paul Pate (R)
- Speaker of the House, Linda Upmeyer (R)
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote.
Register to vote here. The deadline is 10 days before Election Day. Same-day in-person registration is available on Election Day. Bring proof of identification the first time you vote. No document is required to vote.
2018 Competitive House Districts
- Iowa District 1 is a competitive district with the potential to flip to blue. Representative Rod Blum (R) won the 2016 election with 53.9% of the vote. Trump won the district in the 2016 presidential election with 48.7% of the vote.
- Iowa District 2 is a competitive district with the potential to flip to red. Representative Dave Loebsack (D) won the 2016 election with 53.7% of the vote. Trump won the district in the 2016 presidential election with 49.1% of the vote.
- Governor's race in 2018; the Republican incumbent is up for reelection.
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 184,000 people in Iowa (or 5.9% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 230,000 people (or 7.4% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/26/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- Iowa is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.. If there is a full repeal, it is projected that in 2021 Iowa will have 326,000 people uninsured, which is a 103.6% increase from population who would be uninsured in 2021 without a repeal. (Retrieved from Table A1 at )
- The uninsured population in Indiana is particularly vulnerable because a state health insurance program for low-income adults called IowaCare was combined into the Medicaid expansion that occurred under the ACA’s requirements. If there is a complete repeal of the ACA, low-income adults will not have access to IowaCare.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 26,000 jobs could be lost in Iowa. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay Strategy, young adults in Iowa could pay $739 more in 2018.
- Republican Senators Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley voted to repeal the ACA.
- 26 people have been killed by police in the state of Iowa from the years 2013 through 2016..
- 11% of the people killed by police were black.
- Black people are 3.9 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.
- In 2013, Iowa had 149,122 immigrants, making up 4.8% of the population.
- There are estimated to be 40,000 undocumented immigrants in Iowa, making up 1.3% of the population.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Iowa does not allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers’ licenses.
- Iowa does not allow undocumented immigrants to attend public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. In Iowa, 4,571 individuals have benefited from this executive action.
- 3.2% of K-12 students in Iowa had undocumented parents in 2014.
- Undocumented immigrants in Iowa made up 1,8% of the labor workforce in 2014.
- If all undocumented workers were removed from Iowa, the state would lose $1.4 billion in economic activity.
- Undocumented immigrants paid $64.1 million in state and local taxes in Iowa in 2012.
- Iowa introduced legislation similar to Arizona's SB 1070 (which requires police to check detained/arrested people's immigration status if it is suspected that they might not be in the US legally) in 2010-11, but it failed to pass.
- Several Iowa counties have policies limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. This includes Des Moines, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.
- In 2014, Iowa resettled 692 refugees.
Motor vehicle registration in Iowa has been fully automated for several years, and the system has experienced no notable problems during this time. State election officials have also recently expressed interest in exploring online voter registration. Iowa has previously considered legislation to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote. In 2016, the Iowa legislature considered legislation to allow automatic voter registration. The bills died in committee.
In 2011, Gov. Terry Branstad (R) reversed a prior executive action that had made it easier to restore voting rights to people with past criminal convictions. In effect, the state now permanently disenfranchises most citizens with past felony convictions.
- Iowa incarcerated 12,808 people in 2014—8,798 in prison and 4,010 in jail.
- 29,301 individuals were on probation, while 5,595 were on parole.
- 8.2% of the prison population was serving life sentences, while 7.7% of the prison population was serving life sentences without parole.
- The black imprisonment rate per 100,000 individuals was much higher than white or Hispanic, coming in at 2,349 compared to 211 and 361, respectively.
- 2.1% of Iowa residents were disenfranchised due to felony convictions in 2016, compared to 9.8% of the black Iowa population.
- Iowa spent $461 million on corrections in 2014.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- Iowa residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 90,000
- Adults and children: 296,000
- Children: 178,000
- In 2015, an average of 184,850 households and 391,224 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in Iowa. In 2011, approximately 12% of the population of Iowa was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per Iowa household was $229 per household and $108 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 25,960 households, including 10,668 families and 19,287 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Iowa was $426 in 2014. Average benefits in Iowa have fallen in value by 34.4% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 14,297 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In 2015, there were 3,169 Social Security recipients, who received on average $311.45 per month, for a total of $987,000.
- 76,700 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Iowa had 39 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Iowa, there were 3,064 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 466 families, 170 veterans, 142 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 184 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Iowa received $196 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Iowa, more than 44,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Iowa households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Iowa’s infrastructure received a score of C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- This study gave the state “good” scores for solid waste, and identified dams, bridges and inland waterways as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 25.7% of Iowa’s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 46% of Iowa’s roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $381 per motorist in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs each year.
- According to Governor Terry Branstad (R), schools and water quality are major infrastructure goals for Iowa.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Iowa has 12 Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, four centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 49,250 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were 13 abortion providers in Iowa in 2015.
- In 2014, 6.3 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Iowa had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- Parental notice is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Medical abortion is limited.
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
Women and Wages
- In Iowa, 12.9% of women live in poverty, the national average is 13.4%. Single mothers make up 36.8%, while women aged 65 and older make up 8.7%. The national averages are 36.5% and 10.3%, respectively.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.77. The national average is $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.61 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.57 for every dollar made by white men. The national averages are $0.63 and $0.54, respectively.
Domestic Violence in Iowa
- In 2011, 6628 domestic violence incidents were reported to Iowa law enforcement.
- In 2014, 13 Iowans were killed in domestic violence homicides. 54% of those murdered were killed with guns.
- On one day in 2014, Iowa domestic violence programs served 853 victims/survivors; another 133 were turned away due to lack of resources.
- Researchers estimate 55,340 Iowans experienced sexual violence in 2009; 10% were under the age of 18.
- 17.3% of Iowa women are stalked during their lifetimes.
Religious freedom law
Iowa does not have a state religious freedom laws. Religious freedom laws protect the right of people to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. However, after same-sex marriage was legalized, conservative states begun attempting to enact similar laws with provisions that allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
Iowa does have laws protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, adoption, insurance and credit, as well as a nondiscrimination policy for state employees. It does not have laws against discrimination in foster care or jury selection.
Iowa has passed laws on parental presumption for same-sex couples and nondiscrimination in foster care. It does not have laws on second-parent adoption, surrogacy, de facto parent recognition or consent to inseminate (meaning that in case of the insemination of one member of a female same-sex couple, the partner not carrying the child is not automatically recognized as a parent).
Hate crime laws
Iowa does include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group, and does require reporting of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people.
Iowa has passed anti-bullying laws covering cyberbullying that explicitly mention LGBTQ+ youth and enumerate model policies. It does have laws promoting transgender inclusion in sports and LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education. The State does not require school suicide prevention policies and does not have laws protecting LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy or addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. It does not have LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies..
Health and safety
Iowa does not include LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections in ACA exchanges and does not ban insurance exclusion for trans health care. It explicitly excludes transgender health care from state Medicaid and does not provides inclusive health benefits for trans state employees. Iowa does, however, allow gender marker changes on birth certificates (but not on drivers’ licenses) and collects information on LGBTQ+ health.
- Iowa is ranked 24th in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $6,356 per student.
- As of 2013, Iowa ranked 24th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $51,528 per year.
- 88% of students in Iowa attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 39% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 0.1% of total public school enrollment.
- Iowa's overall graduation rate is 91%, which is slightly above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates are as follows:
- White: 92%
- Latino: 82%
- Black: 79%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 90%
- American Indian: 78%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 84%
- Limited English Proficient: 83%
- Students with Disabilities: 76%
Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- Iowa’s minimum wage is $7.25, which is the same as the federal minimum wage but lower than Iowa’s living wage of $9.78.
- Iowa has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Iowa has no state law for paid family leave.
- Iowa has Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can prohibit unions, that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers, from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. They are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- Iowa is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Iowa also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Iowa does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Iowa does not support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted the covenant in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- More than 55% of Iowa’a electricity generation comes from fossil fuels. In 2015, wind power accounted for 31.3%.
- Iowa has 12 sites on the National Priorities List.
- In 2014, Black populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—36—compared to an overall index of 21 and a White index of 20.
- In 2012, Mixed/other and Black adults in Iowa were most likely to have asthma (Mixed/other 16.8%, Black 16.5%), compared to 9.4% overall and 7.9% of the White population.
- In 2015, polls showed that 60% of Iowans believe in global warming.
- The relevant environmental agency in Iowa is the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
- A January 2017 Iowa Supreme Court ruling determined that a water utility couldn't be sued for damages after reports of high nitrate levels, making environmentalists worried that the ruling takes pressure off lawmakers to push clean water policies.
- Iowa has the 34th-highest percentage of disabled people in America: 11.9% of Iowa’s residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- Iowans with disabilities have the 6th-highest employment rate in the country, at 46.3%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. The overall employment rate in Iowa is 64.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1811]
- Approximately 14.6% of eligible voters in Iowa have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.71%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Iowa, 26.1% live in poverty, as opposed to 10.4% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 43.0%, as opposed to 15.8% for non-disabled children. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130)
- In Iowa, 4.5% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
- Filter this list by issues you care about or how you want to get involved. Filter the "political" column to view only groups that are political.
- Physicians for Social Responsibility Iowa
- Iowa Citizen Action Network
Environmental and environmental-justice advocacy and organizing groups
- Environmental Advocates
- Environment Iowa
- Iowa Center on Sustainable Communities
- Iowa Environmental Council
- Sierra Club, Iowa Chapter
State and Local Disability Rights Organizations
- Disability Rights Iowa, the state's Protection and Advocacy (P&A) group
- Money Follows the Person [MFP Iowa] (helps fund transition from institutions back into the community