News

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad and the top Democrat in the Iowa Senate exchanged harsh words Monday over the legislature's failure to approve a plan for water quality improvements before adjourning last week.    

Governor Branstad's proposal to tap school infrastructure dollars to raise billions of dollars for water quality fell flat.  

On a bipartisan vote, the House passed a bill to divert money from other state programs but the bill was not debated in the Senate.  

Branstad says Majority Leader Mike Gronstal wasn't serious about doing something about water quality this year.

USDA/Flickr

The federal Food and Drug Administration calls a report of a new low in poultry salmonella rates "encouraging."

The study is part of a larger government effort to reduce the persistently high rates of the food-borne illness in chicken and turkey, especially illnesses caused by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.  

FLICKR / 401(K) 2012

If you still haven’t completed your 2015 state income taxes, today is the filing deadline. If you're late filing, be prepared to pay a penalty of an extra ten-percent on top of whatever you owe.

"I will say that typically there is a very slight grace period," says Victoria Daniels of the Iowa Department of Revenue, "but I encourage people strongly to get their returns in and file them electronically and make their payments no later than 11:59 pm."

John Pemble/IPR

State lawmakers brought their 2016 legislative session to a close last evening before darkness fell,   wrapping things up a week and a half past their scheduled shutdown.    

The roughly seven-point-three billion dollar state budget is now on its way to the governor, and lawmakers go home to campaign for re-election.  

One of the most highlighted ambitions for the 2016 session did not come to pass, and that’s a long-term plan to clean up Iowa’s rivers and streams.

Janette Beckman (copyright Trio Settecento)

Violin superstar Rachel Barton Pine is in the headlines because a pilot refused to let her carry on her Guarneri -but that precious instrument is only the most famous of her fiddles. Rachel is also a master of its Baroque and Renaissance predecessors, and she brought one to Ames for a concert of Italian Baroque music with her Trio Settecento.  You can hear the result on this week's University Concert.

Joyce Russell/IPR

After months of negotiations, statehouse Democrats and Republicans have reached agreement on how to keep an eye on the new privatized Medicaid system. Since April 1, health care for more than half a million Iowans has been managed by for-profit companies. 

Rep. Linda Miller (R-Bettendorf) says under the compromise more consumers will be added to a key Medicaid advisory council.

“We’ve told the governor he has to get the consumers on there,” Miller said, “at least ten consumers on there, I think, by July 1st.”

Prestage Farms

Prestage Farms of North Carolina, doing business as Prestage Foods of Iowa promises to create hundreds of new jobs in North Central Iowa if their proposed 240 million dollar pork processing plant near Mason City wins local government approval.

Neighbors say the need for thousands of hogs will mean more factory farms. They fear the farms will produce odor and foul the air and water. Tom Willett of rural Mason City and others are asking the city council  to delay approval of the project for 90 days.

IPR/Tony Dehner

The final Wednesday of the month isn't our normal night for our live broadcast from the Des Moines Social Club, but we'll happily make an extra trip when the music is this good! Iowa native Julie Christensen and her band Stone Cupid were in the area for a string of performances, and managed to squeeze us in for a couple of great live sets. Check out their performance right here!

Richard Jauron

Arbor Day is a wonderful day to think about planting trees, but it’s also a good time to walk amongst beautiful trees and learn a little bit about the species that surround us.
 

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

    

When Donald Trump made the comment that Hillary Clinton's only card was "the woman card," Clinton took up the mantle.

"If fighting for women's healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in."

Two Iowan siblings took it a bit more literally. Zach and Zebby Wahls are creating a deck of playing cards celebrating prominent women in American history. They launched a Kickstarter yesterday afternoon in the hopes of gaining $5,000 in 30 days.

It took three and a half hours.

Courtesy of UI Special Collections

The historic Brinton collection almost got lost to the sands of time, or, less poetically, the dirt of the landfill.

“Some of it was in boxes labeled ‘Brinton C-R-A-P.’ It seemed that the future was in doubt,” says Michael Zahs, the man who saved the collection.

Matt Dempsey / Flickr

When ESPN first launched in 1979, it was unclear how the public would respond to an all-sports cable channel. Three years later, a woman actually named ESPN in her divorce suit, claiming the network ruined her married by offering too much coverage. Travis Vogan says ESPN has fomented fanaticism not just for the teams it depicts, but for the network itself. One example of this? People naming their babies Espn (pronounced ‘es-pin’).

Austin Kirk/Flickr

You're about to start paying less for eggs at the grocery store because egg farms are recovering from last year's bird flu outbreak a bit faster than expected.

 

Clay Masters (Clinton, Cruz, Trump); John Pemble (Sanders); Alex Hanson (Kasich)

While presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is asked about hair, clothes, and makeup more than her male counterparts, she isn't the only candidate spending time thinking about her appearance.

“Most people don’t realize quite how much goes into any politician or candidate's face or clothing,” says beauty consultant Rachel Weingarten

Joyce Russell/IPR

An expansion of Iowa’s medical cannabis law was defeated this week in the Iowa House, leading to an emotional reaction from affected families.

"I'm disappointed," says Sally Gaer. "I feel misled by the members of the House. We've been working on this for months, and what they did [Monday] night shows they have no conscience - pure and simple. They decided not to help Iowans most vulnerable because they, quite frankly, don't care."

John Pemble/IPR

 

The lobbying groups who treat state lawmakers to thousands of dollars worth of free food every year could face some new requirements under last-minute legislation at the capitol.   

It’s part of an 11th hour budget bill under consideration as the legislature marches toward adjournment.  

Interest groups routinely serve breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks to elected representatives as they work to influence legislation.

There’s no limit on what they can spend during the session as long as all lawmakers are invited.  

Gage Skidmore

Ron Paul testified today in the federal trial of three former staffers from his 2012 presidential campaign. The trio is accused of using a third party to disguise payments made to former Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement of Paul.   

Though at times he had trouble hearing, the former Texas congressman appeared at ease on the stand, making several quips which got smiles and occasional laughs from the jury. A joke about former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was  particularly well received.

John Pemble, IPR news

The annual Workers Memorial Day is remembering Iowa lives lost while on the job in 2015. 

Thirty-nine Iowans were killed at work last year.

The list includes Andrea Farrington, who was murdered at Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville last summer.

There were also people who died in explosions, falls, trench collapses, and vehicle accidents.

Iowa’s Commissioner of Labor Michael Mauro says on average, 12 people are killed on the job every day in the U.S.

Nancy Hagen / Iowa Public Radio

Chefs from Eastern Iowa will try and out-cook each other at Iowa Public Radio’s fourth Battle of the Chefs in Cedar Rapids at New Bo City Market on Wednesday, May 5.

During this Talk of Iowa interview,  host Charity Nebbe talks with this year’s new faces: Jim Vido of the Ladora Bank Bistro; Drew Weis of Flatted Fifth Blues and BBQ (Potter’s Mill); and Daniel Dennis, a chef with Lion Bridge Brewing.

Photo by Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

The population of Northern Colorado is booming. People are flocking to the area and population numbers are on the rise.

The same thing is happening with dairy cows.

Weld and Larimer counties already sport high numbers of beef and dairy cattle, buttressed by the region's feeding operations. But an expansion of a cheese factory owned by dairy giant Leprino Foods will require even more cows to churn out the milk needed to produce bricks of mozzarella cheese and whey protein powder.

John Pemble/IPR

A state senator who oversees spending on public buildings, including the capitol complex, has harsh words for Governor Branstad as state lawmakers move toward adjournment.  

The governor has rejected borrowing for infrastructure repairs, including more than $600 million in deferred maintenance.

As a result, repairs will be left undone at the Wallace State Office Building, the State Historical Building, and the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.

Des Moines Democrat Matt McCoy charges that Branstad will not leave public buildings in better shape than he found them.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

The conspiracy trial of three senior staffers from Ron Paul's 2012 Presidential Campaign had its first full day of testimony on Wednesday.  Campaign Chair Jesse Benton, Campaign Manager John Tate, and Deputy Campaign Manager Demitiri Kesari are accused of using a third party to disguise payments made to former Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement of Ron Paul.

hancher.uiowa.edu

May is flowering with an abundant array of arts events around the state. This month’s Iowa Arts Showcase features:

·         Charles Swanson, Executive Director of Hancher, detailing the launch of their new season and their historic opening gala following the flood of 2008

·         The Des Moines Metro Opera’s General and Artistic Director, Michael Egel, diving into the DMMO’s new summer season operas and the stars that will grace the Blank Performing Arts Center stage in Indianola

Amy May / Iowa Public Radio

Hillary Clinton took four of five states that held primaries last night in the Northeast, bringing her closer to having a lock on the democratic nomination for president. Kedron Bardwell, Associate Professor of Political Science at Simpson College says he thinks challenger Bernie Sanders' supporters will support Clinton in the general election. 

"The Sanders supporters for the most part will stick with Hillary," he says. "The issues that Sanders cares about - it's not as if the Democratic Party has changed their positions that these issues are important."

Emily Woodbury

Andrew Duarte was only 31 years old when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. One of the biggest questions he had was, “What can I expect?”

“And there’s not really a good answer for that,” he says.

Today on Talk of Iowa - living with Parkinson’s disease. Host Charity Nebbe sits down with two Parkinson's patients and a clinical researcher to talk about recent developments in Parkinson’s research and find out what it’s like to live with the disease.

Board of Regents photo

A member of the Iowa Board of Regents is resigning after just one year on the board.  Mary Andringa says she underestimated the time required to fully serve in the role given her other commitments and responsibilities.  Andringa is the Chair of the Board for the Vermeer Corporation in Pella, and a former CEO of that company.  She also serves on a number of other boards.

Andringa has been on the Board of Regents since last May.  Her resignation is effective Saturday. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

It’s being called the Dam Debate. Planners in the Des Moines metropolitan area are pulling in ideas from the public on what can be done to make the city’s two major rivers more open to boating, fishing and other recreational opportunities. 

More than a hundred residents skipped their lunch hours Tuesday to weigh in on a water trails plan for the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers downtown.

They used smart phones to answer survey questions to help determine what should be included in the plan.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Activists held a news conference at the statehouse today, visibly shaken by Monday night’s defeat in the House of a medical marijuana bill.  

Backers of medical marijuana say they are still hoping lawmakers will approve a bill legalizing its production and distribution in Iowa so patients don’t have to travel to other states. 

Parents of epileptic children including, Sally Gaer of West Des Moines, say the legislative session is not over yet.

”There is a way to fix this and I implore the house to continue to fight,” Gaer said. 

Des Moines Water Works Blog

The Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against three northwest Iowa counties over nitrates in the water sparked debate in the Iowa House today.   

A rural lawmaker wants to expand representation on the Water Works Board of Trustees.

He says that’s in part because of the lawsuit alleging drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun, and Buena Vista counties are responsible for high nitrate levels in the Raccoon River.

Rep. Jared Klein (R-Keota) wants urban and rural areas surrounding Des Moines to have a seat at the table if the Water Works raises its rates. 

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

As farmers put their 2016 crops in the ground, they face another year of corn and soybean prices that will make turning a profit on the land challenging. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says already he's seeing early signs of strain in the farm economy.

"We're hearing a little bit from bankers," he said. "We're hearing isolated instances of farmers [hurting]. We're hearing that the 800 number where farmers that are in trouble can call in and ask for help or get advice that they're getting a few more calls now."

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