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Kuviin / Wikimedia Commons

Regular exercise is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of many serious health conditions, but many of us still struggle with making it a part of our lives. Would you be more likely to exercise if your doctor prescribed it?

Dr. Britt Marcussen says that if you’re trying to start a new habit, stick with it.

“We are all creatures of habit. It takes a long time if you’re not an exerciser to become an exerciser and have it be second nature to you. If takes several months of working a program before it becomes a habit,” he says.

John Pemble

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad unveiled a major initiative this week – a plan to increase funding for water quality. 

The governor teamed up with former Democratic governor and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to support a proposal that would extend the one-cent sales tax currently spent on school infrastructure. While the plan would extend the sales tax, most of the inflationary growth would be diverted to finance water quality projects. Critics say that money should go only to education infrastructure.

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

The Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre is invading Iowa Public Radio! Join us at noon on Tuesday, January 12th for several sneak peek selections from the CROT’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata. The CROT’s principal cast features Danielle Talamantes as Violetta, Jason Slayden as Alfredo, and Stephen Gaertner as Germont. Other members include Eric Ferring as Gastone, Erin Bryan as Annina, and Loralee Songer as Flora. The principals and the ensemble will treat us to a few musical gems from their upcoming Paramount Theatre performances of Verdi’s La Traviata.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says he plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with what he calls, “health empowerment accounts.” 

During a town hall meeting in Panora on Wednesday, the retired neurosurgeon described health empowerment accounts as health-savings accounts, "but with no bureaucrats.” Everyone with a Social Security number would get an account, and families would be able to shift money among themselves to pay for medical care.

Stanford University’s marching band generated quite a load of controversy at the Rose Bowl last week when they played the FarmersOnly.com jingle, and brought a giant cow onto the field  then proceeded to tip it. But the band is known for trolling its opponents and has upset scores of fans at three out of the last four Rose Bowls.

During this hour on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band Director Kevin Kastens about Iowa’s performance at the Rose Bowl and about marching band styles and culture across the country.

Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

The Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre is invading Iowa Public Radio! Join us at noon on Tuesday, January 12th for several sneak peek selections from the CROT’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata. The CROT’s principal cast features Danielle Talamantes as Violetta, Jason Slayden as Alfredo, and Stephen Gaertner as Germont. Other members include Eric Ferring as Gastone, Erin Bryan as Annina, and Loralee Songer as Flora. The principals and the ensemble will treat us to a few musical gems from their upcoming Paramount Theatre performances of Verdi’s La Traviata.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is on a six-day, 28-county tour of the state, hoping to solidify his lead in the polls a month ahead of the February 1st caucuses. 

Hundreds of voters are turning out at venues in small towns.       

At a Christian bookstore in Boone, volunteer Benjamin Dorin hands out signup sheets for the Ted Cruz campaign.

"We’re just trying to get phone numbers and e-mail addresses," Dorrin said, before asking some people in the crowd to make room to allow everyone in from the cold.  

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says changes to the complex federal tax code could be coming this year. Grassley is a member and former chair of the Senate finance committee. He's long-advocated for a tax system with fewer rates.

"If we were going to have a simple reform, we would have one tax rate, with an exemption for low and middle income people," he says. One figure for that cut-off, which he says is often used, is $36,000, after which workers would be subject to a flat tax.

Dean Borg/IPR

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio spoke at an early morning rally at a Cedar Rapids hotel today, telling those in attendance that President Barack Obama views the U-S Constitution as an annoyance.

Rubio was referring to President Obama’s executive action on Tuesday, tightening firearm sales restrictions. After the rally, Rubio elaborated for reporters.

Flickr / IowaPolitics.com

Iowa's Senate Majority Leader says there will be legislation that provides oversight of the transition of Iowa’s Medicaid program into management by private companies. 

"The rollout of this managed care has been messy and we're going to standup for the patients and for providers out there that need to understand the rules of the game," says Democrat Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, who has been a vocal critic of Medicaid privatization. "We don't think there are enough protections right now in that process, so we're going to keep working on that."

Iowa Public Radio / Clay Masters

Iowa's governor wants to kill two birds with one stone.

Gov. Terry Branstad says by extending a sales tax increase enacted in 2008* to 2049, schools will get an additional $10 million annually for things like technology and infrastructure projects. He projects that the state will also raise nearly $4.7 billion in this period to address soil and water conservation issues related to agriculture.

Tom McLaughlin / Flickr

From televangelists to raptor specialists, we said goodbye to several notable Iowans who significantly contributed to politics, art, education, sports, law, and other fields during 2015. This hour on River to River, we pay tribute to a few of those Iowans. Host Ben Kieffer talks with a variety of guests in memory. 

Joshua and Lori Kagavi

Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Stadium and Drake University’s Johnny Bright Field are memorials to two African American football players whose college careers ended tragically and prematurely due to violence on the field. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe revisits the stories of these players and the lesser known story of Ozzie Simmons, who played for the University of Iowa in the 1930s.

Pat Blank/IPR

The Meskwaki Tribe near Tama has been awarded a one-point-six million dollar grant from the U.S Department of Human Services.

The money will be used over the course of five years to expand the tribe’s forty acre produce farm known as Red Earth Gardens.

Economic Development Director Larry Lasley says part of the project’s mission is to revitalize the Meskwaki customs of seasonal growing and gathering.

He says the purpose is, “to continue those traditions and help promote and teach younger family members to carry on that heritage."

Frankieleon / Flickr

While Lucy and Ricky Ricardo were filmed sleeping in separate twin beds back in the 1950s, not sharing a mattress is seen as a sign of a troubled marriage.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with sleep doctor, Dr. Eric Dyken of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorders Center, fielding several questions about the benefits and drawbacks to sharing a room with a sleeping partner.

Jim Viner

IPR's Studio One team is returning to the Basement Venue of the Des Moines Social Club on Thursday, January 7th, for our first live broadcast of 2016. This time, host Mark Simmet and the Studio One team welcome Jim Viner!

Lake Superior State University in Michigan has been issuing its "Banished Words List" since 1975.  The wordsmiths there now have over 800 entries on their list of overused, tired and shopworn words and phrases. 

Flickr / Phil Roeder

Registering to vote in Iowa just got a whole lot easier, provided you have a driver’s license or state-issued ID. A new portal allows the Iowa Department of Transportation to share a voter’s information with Iowa’s Secretary of State.

Secretary of State Paul Pate says the portal is a more accurate and efficient way to maintain voter information, and will make Iowa voting a quicker process. 

Photo by John Pemble

State education officials say they’ll spend the next 18 months figuring out what a new federal education law requires.  

President Obama signed the law replacing the controversial No Child Left Behind statute.  

The new law is dubbed the Every Student Succeeds Act.

It gives more power back to the states for accountability, teacher evaluations, and how to push poorly performing schools to improve. 

Speaking to the state board of Education, Department of Education Director Ryan Wise says there’s a lot in the bill to digest.

Harvest Public Media / Peggy Lowe

Iowa isn’t requiring new bio security standards at its poultry facilities in the wake of last spring’s catastrophic outbreak of avian flu, but many farms are creating heightened bio-security barriers. Though there is no concrete proof of how bird flu spread so far and so rapidly, it’s widely believed humans played a large role in spreading the disease across the Midwest. 

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

During the final year of the Obama administration, Congress will likely address several agricultural concerns. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who sits on the Senate agriculture committee, expects the federal government could tackle free trade, childhood nutrition and ongoing implementation of the farm bill.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stumped at Northstar Elementary  School in Knoxville on New Year's Eve morning.

The Vermont senator, who is running as a Democrat, says Wall Street's "recklessness" destroyed the economy with the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007. For this reason he says big financial institutions should help pay for free college education in the U.S. through a tax on speculation, or high-risk trading.

Photo Courtesy Daniel Moon

Twenty years ago in Iowa, the influx of latino workers and their families was a large topic of conversation. Today, refugee programs are working with more than 180 different languages and are helping migrants from all over the world navigate culture in Iowa, and starting to include ideas of sexual identity and socio-economic status in the conversation.

During this hour of River to River, we hear from Henny Ohr, Executive Director of the Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center, about the influx of refugees from Burma who have been relocating to Iowa.

Metal Chris / Flickr, Licensed under Creative Commons

Many decry the coarsening of our political discourse. History demonstrates that politics has always been a "contact sport." But over the years Iowa's social capital has allowed Iowans to disagree without being disagreeable.

Katherine Perkins / IPR

There was a time when Iowans knew their neighbors. They relied on each other to help with labor on the farm, or to keep an eye on children. And if you didn't see your neighbors during the week, you saw them on Sunday at church. But as church attendance declines and farms are fewer and farther between, Iowans are finding new ways to form community.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Pittman

Thousands of Iowans are attending the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California tomorrow as part of Rose Bowl festivities. Three of this year’s floats are designed by Iowan Dave Pittman. He’s employed year round as a float designer and says companies sponsoring floats are spending up to half a million dollars on the event. 

Kids on Hawk-I, Iowa’s Medicaid program for low income children, are receiving new insurance cards in the mail. But they might not put them to much use, since Iowa’s Medicaid program is scheduled to go into privatized management on March 1.

Initially the transition to privatization was scheduled for New Year’s Day. In anticipation of this date, insurer Wellmark scaled back its Hawk-I resources; but now the transition is scheduled for March so Wellmark’s Hawk-I contracts need a new home.

Mark Kortum / Flickr

Parenting in Iowa has changed a lot over the decades.

“We have the luxury of giving lots and lots of time and energy to kids that our great-grandparents didn’t,” says Pamela Riney-Kehrberg of Iowa State University.

The head of the governor’s office of drug control policy will ask state lawmakers to make it easier for doctors and pharmacies to use the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.    The program is designed to prevent the overprescribing of painkillers and other addictive drugs.   

Clay Masters/IPR file photo

Des Moines residents can expect their water bills to go up 10 percent in April. It comes as the state’s largest water utility is in the middle of a lawsuit with three northern Iowa counties.

Des Moines Water Works CEO Bill Stowe says the utility has removed more nitrates from the city’s water supply of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers in the last year than any other.

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