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Civil Rights Commission to review past decisions, set goals for the future today
Months before the next Iowa legislative session begins, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is gearing up to set its priorities for 2009.
Commissioners will begin discussing past and future priorities and the commission’s 2008 annual report during a meeting at 1 p.m. today at the Grimes State Office Building.
“We always have to factor in the new election,” said Alicia Claypool, commission chairwoman.
Commissioners and volunteers also have a booth at the Iowa State Fair this week. Fairgoers can win prizes for taking a quiz about civil rights. Youth can complete a survey. The booth is located along the south wall of the Varied Industries Building.
“It gives us a chance to talk to people from all over Iowa so that’s a good thing,” Claypool said.
Claypool said the commission has experienced many successes during the past two years, including being able this year to extend the deadline for Iowans to file discrimination complaints from 180 to 300 days.
At today’s meeting, the commission will review its policy decisions since 2001, some of which include:
- Des Moines School Board member Jonathan Narcisse discussed the state of African-Americans in Iowa. The commission supported his work to create a report about the problems.
- The commission supported the Ames City Council, which invited a former commissioner to speak about making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a city holiday.
- The commission signed a statement for El Forro, a Latino and Latina advocacy group, warning against discrimination of people of Middle Eastern descent.
- In 2002, the commission supported efforts to end the use of Native American mascots, particularly for schools. The commission lauded Iowa schools that chose new mascots.
- The commission sent a letter in 2002 to the Iowa Utilities Board to allow expansion of the program to people who have physical and cognitive disabilities, which the board declined.
- In 2004, the commission wrote a letter praising WHO-TV for removing ads deemed as “anti-immigration.”
- The commission voted unanimously in 2004 to support the right of felons to vote.
- The commission, along with Des Moines Area religious leaders, denounced the distribution of Neo-Nazi fliers in 2005.
- The commission sent a message to Iowa State University in support of an anti-hate rally in response to homophobic graffiti.
- The commission supported an educational center in Des Moines for immigrants.
- The commission opposed making English the official state language.
- The commission supported the Iowa Department of Education in creating a nondiscrimination policy and anti-bulling policies, which included sexual orientation.
- The commission opposed requiring all citizens to obtain voter ID cards.
- The commission worked against predatory lending practices.
- The commission supported legislative proposals that would allow immigrants to qualify for state residency to pursue college regardless of immigration status.
- The commission opposed a state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
- The commission worked to improve housing accessibility on behalf of people who have disabilities.
- The commission has worked for immigration reform, calling for system overhauls, more visas and family reunification, among other fixes.