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Newscast 1.30.24: Republican Iowa legislators propose return of death penalty, Democrats reveal package to protect abortion rights; Radig to seek different Woodbury County government post in election

The Iowa Legislature
The Iowa Legislature

A Siouxland legislator supports a bill in the Iowa Senate that would reinstate the death penalty, more than 60 years after the state’s last execution.

The bill would allow lethal injection in cases of first-degree murder, and would add killing a police officer to the list of first-degree offenses.

Republican State Sen. Dave Rowley, of Spirit Lake, told a Senate subcommittee he believes it should be an option in cases such as the death of Algona Police Officer Kevin Cram, who was killed on duty in September.

The bill is opposed by religious advocates, who said the state should not return to a policy of taking another life in response to murder.

The death penalty proposal has advanced out of the subcommittee to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Also in the legislature, Republicans in the Iowa House have advanced a bill that would require all schools to teach about fetal development starting in first grade. They’d have to include an animated video that shows fertilization and every stage of human development inside the uterus.

The bill says the video must be “comparable” to a video called “meet baby Olivia” that was developed by an anti-abortion group. A lobbyist for the Family Planning Council of Iowa says that video contains false information about fetal development.

Opponents of the House bill say it would push a religious and political agenda on students along with inaccurate medical information.

In related news, Iowa Senate Democrats are proposing a package of bills to protect abortion rights, expand birth control access, and extend postpartum Medicaid coverage.

Senate Minority Leader Pam Jochum said all 16 Democrats in the chamber are all on board with these bills.

The Republican-majority Legislature voted last year to ban most abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy, so abortion rights legislation has almost no chance of passing. But Republicans, including the Gov. KIim Reynolds, have supported more access to birth control and changing postpartum insurance coverage.

Additionally, a two-term member of the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday said he will not run for re-election to that office, but will instead seek the Woodbury County Auditor position instead.

Keith Radig, of Sioux City, told Siouxland Public Media News that he believes in term limits, so it is time to exit the county board at the end of the year. Radig said he’s well versed to be county auditor, given his years of county government knowledge.

Radig is the third person who is seeking the county auditor post. He is a Republican and will have to defeat Deputy County Auditor Michelle Skaff in the June primary vote to advance to the November election. Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill, a Democrat, has served 28 years in the position, and is seeking an eighth term.