Iowa Constitution

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Iowa Constitution
Flag of Iowa.png
The Iowa Constitution is the basic governing document of the state of Iowa.


The Iowa Constitution includes a preamble and twelve articles.[1]

It also has a democratic procedure in place to amend or revise the constitution. Article X of the constitution sets up an automatic ballot initiative to ask voters every 10 years whether or not they would like to hold a constitutional convention. Iowa voters have rejected holding a constitutional convention every time they have been asked:[2]

  • In 1970, the vote was 204,517 to 214,663 (48.79% to 61.29%).
  • In 1980, the vote was 404,249 to 640,130 (38.71% to 61.29%).
  • In 1990, the vote was 179,762 to 491,179 (26.79% to 73.21%).
  • In 2000, the vote was 300,468 to 626,251 (34.42% to 67.58%).
  • In 2010, the vote was 649,316 to 317,577 (67.16% to 32.84%).

The Iowa Constitution has been amended 28 times, most recently in 2010 when Iowa voters approved Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund Amendment, Measure 1.[1]


Main article: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the Iowa Constitution states:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF IOWA, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuance of those blessings, do ordain and establish a free and independent government, by the name of the STATE OF IOWA, the boundaries whereof shall be as follows:[1]

Article I

Article I of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "Bill of Rights." It has 25 sections and describes the rights of the citizens of Iowa in great detail.

Article II

Article II of the Iowa Constitution is entitled "Rights of Suffrage." It has seven sections and details the rights of suffrage and the election process.

Article III

Article III of the Iowa Constitution is labeled Of the "Distribution of Powers." It only has a single section and divides the government into the legislative, executive and judicial branches.

The Legislative

The "Legislative Department" of the Iowa Constitution appears to be a separate article; however, it has no article number or title. It has 40 sections and establishes the legislative department and details its responsibilities.

Article IV

Article IV of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "Executive Department." It has 22 sections and establishes the executive department and outlines the powers of the governor.

Article V

Article V of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "Judicial Department." It has 19 sections and establishes the court system of the judicial department.

Article VI

Article VI of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "Militia." It has three sections and concerns the state militia.

Article VII

Article VII of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "State Debts." It has nine sections and deals with state debts.

Article VIII

Article VIII of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "Corporations." It has twelve sections and concerns the formation of corporations, as well as their privileges and limitations.

Article IX

Article IX of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "Education and School Lands." It has two parts: The first part, Education, has included up to fifteen sections, and the second part, School Funds and School Lands, has had up to seven sections. Essentially, this article establishes the public school system of Iowa.

Article X

Article X of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "Amendments to the Constitution." It governs the ways in which the state's constitution can be changed over time and describes how constitutional amendments are made.

Article XI

Article XI of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "Miscellaneous." It has eight sections and contains miscellaneous governmental provisions.

Article XII

Article XII of the Iowa Constitution is labeled "Schedule." It includes the text of material that used to be in the constitution, which is designed to ease the transition from territory to state, and has sixteen sections.

Amending the constitution

Main article: Amending state constitutions

Article X governs the ways in which the state's constitution can be changed over time.

Article X allows:

  • Two successive general assemblies must vote to put the proposed amendment on a statewide ballot, by majority votes.
  • Amendments can be proposed in either chamber.
  • Once an amendment is on the ballot, in order to become part of the constitution, it must be approved by "a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the general assembly, voting thereon."


Iowa's first constitution was approved when Iowa first became a state in 1846. Though an earlier constitution had been drafted and accepted by the United States Senate, residents of the territory of Iowa rejected it twice. The state's current constitution was drafted only 11 years after the first was adopted. It was adopted in August of 1857 by a small margin, 40,311 to 38,681.[2]

See also

StateConstitutions Ballotpedia.jpg

External links

Suggest a link

Additional reading