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John Pemble/IPR file photo

This story updates a report from earlier this morning.

Iowans with felony convictions will continue to be permanently banned from the voting booth, after today’s 4-3 ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court. As a result, Iowa maintains its status as one of three states with lifetime voting bans for felons.

Amy Mayer/IPR

When I walked onto the floor of the JBS Marshalltown Pork Plant, I expected the sensory assault to hit my nose first. But turns out it was my ears that first felt the most severe impact. The processing line is noisy. It's also chilly, to protect the meat. That also prevents the sort of noxious smell I had anticipated. Instead of an animal stench, my nose mostly registered cleaning products and a raw meat smell as if I just opened a package of pork chops in my own kitchen.

Drake University

Some of the African continent’s most promising young professionals are in Iowa for the next several weeks picking up tips on how to run businesses. They are part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program run by the U.S. State Department.

The founder of Kemin Industries, R.W. Nelson, recently greeted the 25 young people from 19 countries at his corporate headquarters in southeast Des Moines.

Flickr / Jeff Gitchel

The much anticipated ruling on felon voting from the Iowa Supreme Court will be released Thursday morning.

Iowa has one of the most restrictive felon voting policies in the nation.

It is one of three states that permanently disenfranchises someone if they commit a felony. 

That’s because Iowa’s constitution states anyone convicted of an infamous crime forever loses the right to vote. So what’s an infamous crime? The Iowa Supreme Court will likely tell us.  

Amy Mayer/IPR

 

Peggy Fogle and her dog, Abe, walk among rows of aronia berry bushes on the family property outside Carlisle. Plants on the ends of rows are smaller from years of being nibbled by deer and rabbits. But on nearly nine acres, filling four separate fields, the bushes are reaching maturity, eight years after Fogle and her husband decided to put in their first ones.

PeteLinforth/Pixabay.com

A new study by the United Way says 31-percent of Iowa households are struggling to afford their basic needs.

The finding is part of a United Way-sponsored ALICE report. It stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.

The report says 12-percent of Iowans live in poverty and 19-percent cannot afford the basic cost of living in their areas, forcing them to make concessions in areas like food and health care.

Deann Cook of the United Ways of Iowa says many of those struggling are in service sector jobs.

Linn County’s Board of Supervisors wants more information before deciding whether to raise the minimum wage in Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities.

That’s after the supervisors study committee recommended $8.25-an-hour, a dollar more than state law requires, but a dollar less than neighboring Johnson County.

Cedar Rapids mayor, Republican Ron Corbett, says the committee’s $8.25 recommendation is palatable, but warned that delays invited power struggles. But supervisors chairman, Democrat Ben Rogers, says ‘not so fast’.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The YMCA of Greater Des Moines has landed a new high-profile administrator, naming former Democratic Governor Chet Culver as its new president.    

Culver will oversee fundraising as the Y strives to complete delayed capital projects, including an Olympic-size swimming pool at the downtown branch.    

Culver says he’s long been interested in athletics and wellness.  

Officials at the Y say his contacts in the community will be invaluable.  

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says Vermont's GMO-labeling law will almost certainly go into effect before the senate can vote on a nationwide bill. 

Starting Friday, all products sold in Vermont must have labels disclosing which ingredients are genetically modified. 

Because many products are sold nationwide, this state law is becoming the de facto national standard. 

The food and agriculture industries want a national law overriding Vermont’s legislation. But Grassley, an opponent of the Vermont law, says it’s unlikely the senate will vote on a bill until this fall.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

You can't miss Dan Hartzer in his red fox hunting jacket, black top hat, and over-the-knee boots. After 65 years of playing trumpet, he is Iowa's only racetrack bugler, helping to preserve a racing tradition as iconic as the winner's circle or a photo finish.

"I have a microphone on the end of my horn but I play the bugle call, Call to Post," he says. "That tells everyone that the horses are coming onto the track, the horses are out there to be viewed and place their bets on them."

Joyce Russell/IPR

Republican State Auditor Mary Mosiman warns that an $800 million state budget surplus has now fallen to about $80 million because of big property tax cuts and a new teacher leadership program.   

She warns against new multi-year commitments, now that state tax receipts have dwindled. 

Mosiman says when lawmakers passed the big programs, the state could afford them.

“It’s taxpayer money and we need to do something with it,” Mosiman says.  “So they put it to use with the multiyear commitments being education and property tax reform.” 

Southern Iowa Gets Drier

Jun 27, 2016
U.S. Drought Monitor

Farm fields in central and southeast Iowa remain abnormally dry. Despite weekend rainfalls totaling two-to-three inches in eastern Iowa near Cedar Rapids, some of the state’s driest areas got only about a half-inch. 

Iowa State University Regional Agronomist Megan Anderson’s monitors a 10-county region from Independence to Washington.  That part of Iowa includes counties the National Drought Monitor has listed as abnormally dry or in moderate drought.  She says things are “precarious”.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad is unhappy with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Texas abortion law.    

The case dealt with the same issues the Iowa Supreme Court considered when it upheld Iowa’s telemed abortion program.   

The Texas law required abortion clinics to be near hospitals, so doctors performing abortions can admit patients if there are complications.

It also required abortion clinics to meet certain building, equipment and staffing regulations.

Branstad says states should be able to protect the wellbeing of their citizens.

Brian Gibbs

A young black bear was struck by a glass-delivery truck and killed on Friday evening in far northeast Iowa.

The incident occurred on Highway 76, near the Yellow River Forest in Allamakee County.

"It's a heavily-wooded area," says Kevin Baskins of the Iowa DOT. "You obviously have the Mississippi River bordering it on the east side, and so there's a lot of pretty decent habitat for bears if they do wander into that neck of the woods."

Michael Leland/IPR

A group of canoes and kayaks will travel down the Des Moines River on Saturday in protest of the Bakken Pipeline. 

Organizer Angie Carter expects at least 40 people to show up for the flotilla.

She describes the aquatic protest as a family-friendly way to encourage the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the pipeline permission to begin construction and issue an environmental impact statement.

The Iowa Supreme Court was unable to decide Friday when someone is entitled to counsel, though a drunk driver's conviction stands. A three-three-one ruling from the high court leaves the door open for future constitutional challenges. 

In September 2014, 29-year-old John A. Senn was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Des Moines on Court Avenue. Senn was taken to the Des Moines police station where he refused to take a breathalyzer test until he spoke with his attorney.

Just a week before a Vermont law kicks-in requiring labels on food containing genetically modified ingredients, U.S. Senate agriculture leaders announced a deal Thursday that takes the power out of states' hands and sets a mandatory national system for GM disclosures on food products.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, unveiled the plan that had been negotiated for weeks with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.

U.S. Coast Guard

Operation Dry Water is set to begin Friday as state, federal, and local law enforcement continue to focus on the state’s boating while intoxicated laws and draw public attention to the hazards of boating under the influence.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Boating Law Administrator Susan Stocker says the campaign of focused enforcement will take place June 24-26 and consists of increased patrols, check points, and administration of breath tests. 

A New Jersey man and his companies have agreed to pay $45,000 to the state of Iowa in the settlement of an alleged psychic mail scam.

Timothy Clements owns both TCA Mailing Inc. and T. Clements & Associates Inc. The state of Iowa suspects these companies marketed to and billed at least one Iowan in a psychic services scam.

There’s rarely seen public animosity within Iowa’s congressional delegation.

2nd District Congressman David Loebsack, the only Democrat in the delegation, is calling 4th District Republican Congressman Steve King an “embarrassment to Iowa”.

It concerns King’s statements after introducing an amendment that would block plans for replacing former President Andrew Jackson’s image on the $20 bill with one of African American civil rights activist Harriet Tubman.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

Supporters of the arts and city leaders in Des Moines are unveiling plans for a walking tour of public installations in the downtown area. 

The Art Route will pass by 87 pieces of art and stretch 6.6 miles from the west end of downtown to the State Capitol.

The chief communications officer for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Tiffany Tauscheck, calls the Art Route one-of-a-kind in the nation.

Jon Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa's senior U.S. senator says his proposed gun-control amendment failed to reach the 60-vote mark Monday because of disagreements over the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

"Don't forget (the Second Amendment) is just as important as the fundamental rights of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment," says Sen. Chuck Grassley. "You can't compromise people's constitutional rights." 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

The proposed takeover of a major seed company by a Chinese government business is getting some scrutiny on Capitol Hill. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) chairs the Senate Judiciary committee and says he's looking at state-owned ChemChina's plans to buy the Swiss company Syngenta.

A Linn County study commission is recommending increasing the county’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour by January 1st.

The county board of supervisors convened the study commission. Linn Supervisors chairman Ben Rogers says he’ll take the commission’s recommendation to the supervisors’ meeting tomorrow.

The study commission supports Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett’s motion for increasing Linn County’s minimum wage. Corbett says it’s needed to help workers and to prod Iowa legislators.

U.S. Drought Monitor

While northwest and north Iowa farm fields are struggling with too much rain, a good share of southeast Iowa is too dry.   The USDA’s weekly update Monday afternoon lists more than 50-percent of south-central and southeast Iowa short to very short of top-soil moisture.

Pat Blank/IPR

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa is one of ten nationwide chosen by the Justice Department to form an Elder Justice Task Force.

All levels of government officials are part of the group, including both advocacy agencies and law enforcement officials.

FBI Agent Gabriel Poling says the goal is to identify and prosecute crimes such as financial exploitation as well as physical or emotional abuse.

Iowa’s public safety commissioner is urging Iowans to contact law enforcement if they see something suspicious in light of the recent mass shooting in Orlando.

"When people are committing serious offense, they don't usually do it on the spur of the moment," says Commissioner Roxann Ryan. "They usually are making preparatory plans, they are conducting surveillance, they are collecting weaponry, they are practicing, doing trial runs, they are identifying victims or vulnerabilities."  

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Midwest farmers may be facing some of the toughest financial times they have experienced in three decades, largely thanks to low prices for some of the region's biggest crops.

The average net farm income for farmers in Kansas, for instance, plummeted in 2015 to just $4,568, according to a report released this week by the Kansas Farm Management Association (KFMA). The figure is less than 5 percent of the previous year's average of $128,731.

John Pemple/IPR file photo

One of Iowa’s most influential faith leaders will be among a group of religious and social conservatives meeting tomorrow with Donald Trump in New York.  Bob Vander Plaats, who heads the group The Family Leader, says they want to know more about what kind of leader Trump would be, and who he’d choose for his administration.

University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment/Flickr

Scientists have discovered a third instance of a bacteria resistant to one of the strongest antibiotics available, raising concerns about the spread of so-called "superbugs."

Researchers found E. coli bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin in a pig at an Illinois slaughterhouse, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson said earlier this week. Colistin is often used against bacteria that fail to respond to more common antibiotics.

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