Legislative Efforts


The legislative efforts of the Iowa Newspaper Association shall be directed to advance, preserve and protect the interests of newspapers and publications serving the communities of Iowa. And these efforts shall be directed to nourish citizens’ First Amendment freedoms and responsibilities. We will work to enhance openness in government and advance the capabilities of a free press, understanding these are essential to the good health and vibrancy of democracy. These efforts include the following six areas of interest:

  • 1. Freedom to gather the news.

    We work to remove any obstacle that interferes with our ability to photograph and speak to people about newsworthy events, to inspect and copy documents in any form (electronic, printed, photographic, etc.) generated by public or quasi-public governmental bodies, to be present to witness meetings and activities of such entities, to follow the use of public funds to entities receiving those public funds, and contact any other source of newsworthy information.

  • 2. Freedom to publish news, information, and advertising.

    We assert the right to control the content of our newspapers, including the right to publish or not publish information and advertising whether brought to us, purchased or sold by our employees and authorized agents, or gathered by our news staffs or agents. We also seek to keep private as our own work product, the information we gather but do not publish.

  • 3. Freedom from restrictions on distribution of the news and the free flow of information.

    We assert the right to distribute our newspapers and publications, in print or electronically, without interference from governmental agencies, corporations or private individuals.

  • 4. Publication of notices to the public.

    We believe that a central responsibility of public governmental bodies in our free society is to inform the public, not merely those directly involved, of its activities and legal actions affecting citizens. Iowa’s newspapers share and play an essential role in fulfilling that responsibility. Publication of notices in legally-qualified local newspapers, paid for by the public governmental bodies involved, ensures public notification to those interested and to the community as a whole, as it has since the founding of our nation.

  • 5. Responsibly to minimize the burden of government in the commerce of publishing.

    We recognize the legitimate burden of social responsibility and financial support of local, state and federal governments. We seek to minimize the regulations and restrictions on any facet of our operations, and taxes imposed on our industry.

  • 6. Duty to underscore the fact that newspapers are important institutions in the communities they serve.

    We believe that newspapers are important employers in more than 300 Iowa cities and towns. Newspapers play an important role in communities, keeping local citizens informed, stimulating local retail business and fostering economic development. If a community loses its local newspaper, what institution will next be lost . . . the school, the bank, the hospital? Newspapers and the free flow of information are essential for a progressive Iowa.


If you trace the origins of almost any state trade association, you’ll find it was created to help its members deal with bills in the state legislature. The same is true today. Our membership surveys show that legislative representation is one of the most important services provided by the INA.

Over the years, the INA has developed an effective grassroots lobbying network to enable members to support or oppose legislation affecting newspapers. An effective network can be compared to a three-legged table. So long as each of three legs is sturdy and dependable, the table will serve its purpose well. But if one leg falls, the entire table falls.


    In our network, the first leg is our paid lobbyists. For over 30 years, we have used several contract lobbyists from the Nyemaster Law Firm, Iowa’s largest firm. Their integrity and effectiveness are known quantities both at the INA and among lawmakers. They have lived with our issues long enough to know them well. Their job is to identify any bill or amendment that relates to newspapers and to quickly notify the INA Executive Director. They also write legislation at the INA’s request, make persuasive arguments to legislators on the INA’s behalf and advise the INA on legislative strategy.

  • 2. STAFF

    The second leg is our staff. Prior to each session of the legislature, the staff surveys the membership to learn which INA members know which legislators. This information, along with members’ and legislators’ e-mail addresses, is entered into the INA’s computer system. The staff also works with the Government Relations Committee to identify legislative priorities and to prepare position papers relating to key issues affecting newspapers.

    Once the INA Executive Director is notified by the lobbyists of a bill affecting newspapers, the general membership is informed by reports in the INA Bulletin. The staff also sends e-mails and letters to selected INA members who know specific lawmakers assigned to review the bill in committee or subcommittee.

  • 3. MEMBERS

    Which brings us to the third and most critical leg of the network…the INA member. While lawmakers respect the INA’s lobbyists and staff, that credibility pales in contrast to the credibility of publishers in a lawmaker’s district. Many members have close personal relationships with their legislators. Even if that’s not the case, legislators want to know what their publishers are thinking. History has shown that, more often than not, they will try to respond to the wishes of the publishers.

    If all three legs of our network are strong… If the lobbyists do a good job of identifying bills promptly… If the staff does a good job of notifying selected members about bills being considered by legislators from their district… and if the members contact their legislators urging support of the INA’s position, we will continue to have a high degree of success protecting the newspapers of Iowa in the legislature.


Iowa lawmakers continue to consider a host of issues including bills that will affect your newspaper. History has shown that the INA can most effectively protect newspapers in the legislature when you and your fellow publishers have the tools to enable you to articulate the INA’s position with your area lawmakers and with your readers.

Here you will find items to help you in this regard. These items include:

  • Position papers on FOI, public notice and newspaper taxation issues. Please use these as sources for news stories, editorials and columns.
  • Guest editorials and columns that you are encouraged to publish.
  • Public service ads that you are encouraged to publish.
  • A brochure on the value of public notice advertising in newspapers. This will also be sent to legislators prior to the start of the session. We encourage you to share it with your legislators as well.

The INA sends legislative alerts to publishers and editors whenever a priority bill has reached a critical stage in the legislative process. When that happens, we ask that newspapers publish these kit materials and mention these bills in your next conversation with lawmakers. Your role in educating legislators on how newspapers feel about a bill even before it is debated in committee or subcommittee is very important.

Thanks in advance for playing a critical role in the INA’s grassroots lobbying network. The more you get involved, the better the chances that the newspapers of Iowa will prevail on issues affecting our membership.

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