A roundup of Capitol and legislative news items of interest for Thursday, June 4, 2020:
FELON VOTING RIGHTS: Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday applauded Iowa House members for approving a “sensible compromise” that deals with restoring voting rights for felons who complete their sentences and repay victim restitution.
“This bill ensures that the rights of victims will be protected,” Reynolds told a Statehouse news conference a few hours before she signed the legislation into law.
Senate File 2348 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ga=88&ba=SF%202348 would require that a felon complete a criminal sentence — including probation and parole — and pay restitution owed to a victim or victim’s family before he or she would regain the right to vote.
Reynolds said she hopes the state Senate now will approve a resolution for a “historic” constitutional amendment that would automatically restore felon voting rights.
The Iowa House approved the resolution last year.
“Iowa is now the only state in the nation where all convicted felons lose their right to vote unless they apply to the governor,” she said. “Now is the time for action to change that.”
COVID-19 PROTOCOLS: A state senator from Black Hawk County has berated his GOP colleagues for failing to abide by social distancing, wear protective face shields or take other precautions intended to avoid the spread of coronavirus while the Legislature works to complete its 2020 session in Des Moines.
Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Waterloo, took to the Senate floor Wednesday evening to express his displeasure and disappointment with legislators ignoring guidelines for large gatherings set by Gov. Kim Reynolds and state public health officials.
“None of you are doing what she said she had trust in that we were going to do. We are the Iowa Senate, we are legislators, we should be setting a positive example,” said Dotzler, who expressed concern over contracting COVID-19 while in Des Moines and possibly exposing his 90-year-old mother when he returns to Waterloo.
“This virus is still out there,” he said. “Maybe you don’t give a hoot about your relatives but I do.”
Wednesday’s floor debate featured some heated debates, and Dotzler said senators not wearing masks in the Capitol potential were “shedding” contagious virus when they spoke.
PRISON INMATE DIES: The state Department of Corrections said Thursday that prison inmate Dennis Ace Butrick was pronounced dead at 2:46 a.m. due to natural causes (not COVID-19 related) at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville.
Butrick, 64, was serving a 25-year sentence for a second-degree sexual abuse in Webster County. His sentence began June 1, 2000, according to corrections officials.
— Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau
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