Final grade: A-

Exclusion Grade


Relevance Grade


Due Process Grade



  • Strong protections for due process. 
  • Bans agencies from using arrest records as well as vague standards like “moral turpitude” and “good character” to disqualify applicants.

Areas of Improvement

  • Ban boards from considering old convictions and expunged records.

Updated July 2020 

In June 2020, Iowa enacted sweeping reforms that raised its final grade from an F to an A-. The Hawkeye State is now one of only a handful of states that earn a perfect score in the Due Process category. Unlike the state’s previous patchwork of laws, the 2020 reforms are overarching and apply across the board, aside from the state board of educational examiners. 

Under the new law, boards must create a list of specific crimes that “directly relate” to the license sought. If an applicant’s offense is not on that list, they cannot be denied a license based on their criminal record. But even if an applicant’s crime directly relates to the license, a board must grant an exception if, after conducting an individualized consideration of the applicant, the board determines that the ex-offender has been rehabilitated. 

If an Iowan has been out of prison for at least five years without reoffending, the new law creates a “rebuttable presumption that an applicant is rehabilitated.” However, that presumption of rehabilitation does not apply to Iowans who were convicted of forcible felonies, sex crimes, or domestic abuse assault.

Statute: Iowa Code § 147.3, §272C.15, §§ 17A.12, 17A.16, Iowa Admin. Code r. 645.11.32 (2020)

Overarching ban on blanket bans Yes
Ban on considering arrest records Yes
Ban on considering post-conviction relief records No
Time limit No limit
Ban on vague, discretionary character standards Yes
Relationship between the crime and the license sought "Only if an unreasonable risk to public safety exists because the offense directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of the profession"
Required factors for consideration
Rehabilitation Yes
Time elapsed since crime was committed Yes
Age when crime was committed Yes
Employment History No
Testimonials Yes
Due Process
Petition Process Yes
Burden of Proof State bears burden of proof and requires clear and convincing evidence to deny
Right to appeal Yes
Written notice requirement Yes