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items tagged with Iowa

Help Restore the Power of the Grand Jury
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Editorials

2015-02-18 15:58:48

On Tuesday, February 24, at 9 a.m., (previously incorrectly published as 8 a.m.) the annual selection of the Scott County Grand Jury will take place on the second floor of the Scott County Courthouse. This proceeding is open to the public, and the people should avail themselves of the opportunity to participate in one of the most constitutionally protected authorities still available to hold governments accountable.

The power of the grand jury is enormous. Most of us barely know of its existence, let alone embrace its vital relevance. The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution (1787) provided for grand juries as a means of checks and balances, ensuring that the people, not government, held the ultimate responsibility for providing justice: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury ... .”

The 1846 Iowa Constitution (Article 2, Section 11) reads: “No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offence, unless on presentment, or indictment by a grand jury, except in cases cognizable by justices of the peace, or arising in the army or navy, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger” (

The 1857 Constitution of the State of Iowa (Bill of Rights, Article I, Section 11), asserts that “All offenses less than felony in which the punishment does not exceed a fine of one hundred dollars, or imprisonment for thirty days, shall be tried summarily before a Justice of the Peace, or other officer authorized by law, on information under oath, without indictment, or the intervention of a grand jury, saving to the defendant the right to appeal, and no person shall be held to answer for any higher criminal offense, unless on presentment or indictment by a grand jury, except in cases arising in the army, or navy, or in the militia, when in actual service, in time of war or public danger.”

Annually, 12 randomly selected members of the community form the Scott County Grand Jury, seven of whom are active, while five are alternates in case one of the seven cannot perform his or her duties. The grand jury has four primary responsibilities: (1) to provide indictments on criminal activities, whether brought by the county attorney or upon its own investigations; (2) to inspect the condition of all places of confinement in the county; (3) to investigate the circumstances involving prisoners who have not been indicted within the legal period of time (45 days upon incarceration); and (4) to investigate and indict misconduct by public employees, including elected and appointed officials.

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How to Trim $760 Million from Iowa’s Budget
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2010-01-08 15:54:30

On Monday, the Iowa legislature will convene for the 2010 legislative session, and Iowans across the state will hold their breath, waiting to see if Governor Chet Culver and legislators will increase taxes. Iowans are all painfully aware the state budget is in terrible shape with a billion-dollar spending gap.

In October, the governor issued a simplistic 10-percent across-the-board budget cut, subjecting Iowans to property-tax increases, reductions in services, and a bigger budget disaster for next year. The state budget cannot be fixed by short-term reactionary measures; I chose to suggest state-budget-savings measures to Governor Culver and the legislature, with the following criteria for each recommendation:

  • cumulatively reduce state spending by 10 percent;
  • hold K-12 education funding harmless;
  • hold-public safety funding harmless;
  • no mass layoffs; and
  • no property-tax or any other tax increases.

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Scott County Legislators on National Popular Vote, Income-Tax Deductibility
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Iowa Politics

2009-03-26 14:55:15

The River Cities' Reader asked Iowa state legislators from Scott County to answer two questions related to the national popular vote and the deductibility of federal income-tax payments. The deadline to respond was five days after the questions were sent out. All four Republicans responded. Of the five Democrats, only Representative Elesha Gayman responded.

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