Joyce Russell/IPR

There was emotional testimony today before a legislative committee over a new tax break for Iowa manufacturers which Democrats say the legislature should have signed off on.   

The Branstad administration proposes a sales tax exemption on more of the supplies manufacturers purchase, from drill bits to lubricants and coolants, and from saw blades to air filters and hydraulic fluids. 

Gretchen Dehner

Walter and Wagner Caldas grew up in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Their parents introduced them to classical music, urging them to stay away from drugs and violence. That push was the start of a remarkable journey.

"We started by ourselves," says Walter Caldas. "People would make fun of us. But then, this guy in Brazil started teaching music for the kids in the community, so they don't go through the same pattern of drug dealing and stuff. So that made it a little easier for us; we are not alone."

Readthisandlearn, Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa General Assembly has taken steps over the last few years to make the procedures for arresting a drunken boater closer to those for arresting a drunken driver. Iowa’s Supreme Court will be the next authority to make a decision on the matter.

Last month, the court heard oral arguments in the case of the State vs. Pettijohn.

“There are two issues in this case. One has to do with the stop of the boat and one has to do with the breath test back at the station,” explains University of Iowa law professor Todd Pettys.

Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan

Whether a person loves squirrels for their acrobatics or wishes they would leave the bird feeders alone, squirrels are here to stay.  Over the years, wildlife biologist Jim Pease has collected more than twenty names Iowans have given ground squirrels, ranging from "squinneys" to "liners." 

During this Talk of Iowa program, he talks with host Charity Nebbe about diets,  habitats, ground squirrels and tree squirrels.

John Pemble / IPR

This is the Q and A between Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter and Texas Senator Ted Cruz at the Iowa Ag Summit March 7, 2015 in Des Moines.

R: Well, Senator, welcome. It's a little bit warmer than it was two weeks ago when you were here. Thanks for bringing the warm weather with you.
C: Well, I try to bring that up from Texas.
R: Why don't we get started?
C: Great.

John Pemble

This is the Q and A between Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at the Ag Summit March 7, 2015 in Des Moines.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed change to the Clean Water Act, known as the Waters of the United States rule, is now on hold nationwide. But an Iowa senator says Congress may resolve the matter.

courtesy of the World Food Prize

In the early 1970s in Bangladesh, three significant events happened in sequence. A cyclone killed 300,00 people. A war for independence from Pakistan broke out. And a young man left his job at Shell Oil. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate, had been working for the oil company when he took a short break  to do relief work in the region devastated by the tropical cyclone.

Steven Starnes

All his life, Steven Starnes, who lives in northern Iowa, was told to stay away from his father’s collection of old audio tapes. After being boxed up for two generations, the recordings have been brought back to life unlocking a love affair that goes back to the Vietnam War.

Dani Ausen

While across the country first-time home buying is still down since the recession, it appears millennials are starting to move out of apartments or their parents basements. One place millennials are currently buying a majority of the houses is Des Moines.

Jim Poynter

A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR (Barney Sherman): Hebrew was in ancient times a living language. Then, like Latin, it “died” – it ceased to be a native tongue for everyday speech, and was instead used only in liturgy, scholarship, and literature. But in the 20th century it was brought back to life as a daily language. The revival of spoken Hebrew had no precedent and has been challenging to duplicate. Would a similar revival be just as unlikely, then, in music?

On Friday, October 16th at 2 pm in the Java House in downtown Iowa City, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a performance of "Java Blend" with Dickie, the new duo formed by Dick Prall and Kristina Priceman. 

Ben will chat with the pair about the combination of their extraordinary talents, and Dickie will perform a 50-minute set for the Java House. This program is free and open to the public! 

Fewer students than usual attended classes at West High School in Iowa City today because of an alleged threat. West High principal Gregg Shoultz says they received a report Friday of a post on Snapchat that included a picture of a gun and text about the high school.  He says officials met with the student who allegedly made made the threat, but the student never confirmed it. Shoultz says although there is no threat, many students opted to stay home today.

Flickr / Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig,

"If you have to spend money to get money," says Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, "it's clearly a scam."

Yet many don't know this telltale sign, particularly Iowa seniors who are often the targets of fraud and embezzlement.

Jim Wagner likes to work on old cars; that’s how it all started.

Wagner is a veteran and co-founder of the Veteran’s Freedom Center in Dubuque, a non-profit organization devoted to helping veterans who have fallen through the cracks of more traditional outreach programs. Al Rowell, also a co-founder of the center, says last year they saw more than 6,000 vets circle through their doors. The oldest was 95-years-old, and the youngest was in his early 20s. 

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

A top Iowa Republican has harsh words for his party’s representatives in the U.S. House, where the GOP has so far been unable to agree on a new House Speaker to replace the outgoing John Boehner.

Opposition from a cadre of conservatives known as the Freedom Caucus helped lead Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to withdraw from the race for the top post.

Former Iowa Republican party chair Matt Strawn says it looks like Republicans don’t know how to govern.

Courtesy of DMMO

The final opera in the Des Moines Metro Opera’s 43rd Festival Season, Janáček’s Jenůfa, airs as part of Iowa Public Radio’s Opera in October broadcast series. IPR will broadcast Jenůfa on Saturday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 18 at 4:00 p.m.

Flickr / Jimmy Smith

Communities wanting to develop housing for a growing workforce can apply to the Iowa Finance Authority for low-interest loans. The state agency announced a new program Friday that provides $5 million in low-interest loans to create multifamily dwellings for low-to-moderate income renters.

Fall Colored Perennials

Oct 9, 2015
Swallowtail Garden Seeds / Flickr

Watching the trees change color is one of the chief pleasures of fall, but few people consider what hardy perennials can add to scenery. An added benefit is that they are pretty easy to tuck in, where a tree may not fit.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Denny Shrock, Master Gardener Coordinator at Iowa State University, discusses some of his favorite suggestions and he provides an extensive list of beautiful October bloomers as well as perennials with outstanding fall foliage colors.

The battle over who will become the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is "probably the most important thing happening in politics today." That's according to Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University.

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Clay Masters interviewed former Florida Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush at his West Des Moines headquarters Wednesday. The full transcript is below.

CM: Governor Bush, you’re doing your longest swing through Iowa this week. Why haven’t you been focusing more time here in Iowa?

Flickr / Coen Dijkman

If you've ever wanted your own horse, you can adoption one Saturday in Decorah for $125. About 40 animals will be available for adoption.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management says there are approximately 58,150 horses and burros roaming the western U.S. But to maintain a healthy wild population and a healthy habitat, the agency says those numbers need to drop by more than half. 

Pat Blank/IPR

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump filled an iconic Waterloo ballroom with more than 12 hundred supporters. The crowd at the Electric Park Ballroom repeatedly chanted "USA" and "Trump, Trump, Trump".  The GOP front runner got some of the loudest applause when he talked about repealing the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare".

Courtesy of the Des Moines Register

Iowa has shuttered more than 4300 school districts since 1950 as a result of demographic changes in rural Iowa. What that means for residents and students in rural Iowa is highlighted in a new documentary “Lost Schools.”


Mars has been receiving a lot of attention recently. In the new Ridley Scott movie, The Martian, a NASA botanist is stranded on Mars and has to rely on his own ingenuity to survive. In real life, scientists have discovered evidence of present day water on the red planet.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer sits down with astrophysicists, Steve Kawaler of Iowa State University and Jasper Halekas of the University of Iowa, along with retired NASA astronaut, Clayton Anderson, to discuss the accuracy and impact of films like The Martian.

Clay Masters/IPR file photo

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is vowing to move aggressively in controlling gun violence.  And, in a campaign stop in Davenport today, she took a swipe at a comment Republican Jeb Bush made last week after the shootings at a community college in Oregon.

“We can’t tolerate that,” she said, “this doesn’t just happen, this isn’t stuff that happens.  We let it happen and we have to act against those people who should not have guns in the first place.”

Daniel Hartwig / Flickr

In Iowa, state-specific history is taught in fourth grade. For most Iowans, that's the last they'll learn about their state's past. Tom Morain, Director of Government Relations at Graceland University and former head of State Historical Society of Iowa, is working to change that. He's developed a curriculum, an online course he's dubbed Iowa 101, that anyone, anywhere in or out of state, can access and participate in.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

Many farmers are going to lose money on this year's huge harvest because prices are lower than they have been.

Farm bill subsidy programs, which kick in when the average national price of a commodity drops below a certain price, will almost certainly be triggered this year for corn and soybeans. But it is not yet clear the extent to which those programs will help.

"It's going to help, but it's still not going to get the help above the cost of production," says Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. 

On this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer catches up with legendary Iowa City songwriter Dave Moore. 

Listen in below to hear what Moore's been up to lately. 

Photo by Frank Morris for Harvest Public Media

China's rapid industrialization and economic expansion over the past few decades has been a boon for U.S. farmers — especially soybean farmers. But China's economy is slowing down, leaving American farmers exposed to the downside of being tied to the world's second largest economy.

With tall stands of corn and green soybean fields stretching for miles, the river bottom land around Langdon, Mo., seems a long, long way from Beijing. In an economic sense, though, it's practically right next door.