Panel OKs governor’s bill to restore felon voting rights

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to restore voting rights to felons after they’ve served their sentences has passed its first legislative hurdle with unusual bipartisan support and rare endorsement from a broad spectrum of victim rights, civil rights and religious groups.

The two Republicans and one Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to advance the governor’s bill to a full committee.

The bill calls for a constitutional amendment and must pass the House and Senate in consecutive, separately elected legislative sessions before going for a public vote.

Among groups favoring the bill were the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Leader Foundation.

The Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance wants to add the requirement of repayment of restitution before a felon gets voting rights restored, a sentiment also expressed by some senators.

Some supporters of the measure say that could delay restoration of voting rights for the poorest of felons by years.

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