News

Joyce Rrussell/IPR

A bill to bring the minimum wage down in counties that have raised it won final legislative approval in the Republican-controlled Iowa Senate last night.  

It will now be up to Governor Branstad to sign the bill rescinding the higher wages in effect in Polk, Linn, Johnson, and Wapello Counties, where the wage is now higher than the statewide minimum of $7.25 an hour.      

Republicans complained the current trend creates a hodge-podge of varying wages.   

“This bill creates certainty, predictability, and consistency,” said Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull).   

Marcelo Noah / flickr

During this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Fmr. U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins about his latest work and his writing style. He admits that despite common perceptions about poetry, his poems don’t contain much rhyming.

 

“I write with my ear. I want to make poems sound good and there are lots of ways to do that without having a formal rhyme. Charles Wright defined poetry as, ‘language that means more and sounds better, and I really think those are the two ingredients. Poetry just sounds better than non-poetry.”

 

John Pemble

In all but four Iowa counties, employers must pay a minimum wage of $7.25/hour - the same as the federal minimum wage.

Recently, Johnson, Linn, Polk and Wapello Counties struck out on their own and passed resolutions to raise their minimum wage above that level. Now, the Iowa legislature is in the process of reigning in those counties by passing a GOP-led measure that would ban individual counties from deciding their own minimum wages.

Iowa State University news service

Iowa’s Board of Regents has made it official. Former UNI President Benjamin Allen will serve as interim president of Iowa State after Steven Leath leaves Ames for Auburn University in May.  

Allen is a familiar figure at Iowa State. He’s been a professor, department chair, dean, vice president of academic affairs and provost at the school. He’ll become interim president May 9th, the day after Leath leaves office. Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says Allen will begin work three weeks before then.

John Pemble / IPR

Lawmakers begin another week at the Iowa statehouse this week.

Wolf Trap Opera

The Des Moines Metro Opera heralds in Iowa Public Radio’s 2017 Arias in April series with performances from their 44th Festival Season. IPR’s first DMMO broadcast features Verdi’s Falstaff on Saturday, April 1st at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 2nd at 11:00 p.m.

mother mosque circle
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A few hundred people gathered at North America’s longest-standing mosque in Cedar Rapids Sunday to show support for the Muslim community. 

Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Native American and atheist leaders spoke to a crowd at the Mother Mosque of America about equality, acceptance and love.

The interfaith rally was held to counteract recent hate crimes and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Mother Mosque Imam Taha Tawil thanked the participants for supporting tolerance and religious freedom.

Beth Jusino / Flickr

It’s not only drugs that can cause addiction. New research shows dependence on your smart phone may produce some of the same addictive brain responses. 

In this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Adam Alter, an associate professor of marketing at New York University and author of the new book IRRESISTIBLE: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.

According to Alter, the definition of the term “addiction” has expanded over the years to include not only substances, but behaviors as well.

Anna Williams / Iowa Public Radio

Just after 7:00 p.m. central time on Monday, a civil emergency alert went out to cell phone users in parts of Eastern and Central Iowa. That message went out by mistake. During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with John Benson, spokesperson for Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. 

John Pemble / IPR

Six weeks ago, legislation about changing Iowa's collective bargaining law featured a long and contentious debate in both chambers, and hundreds of demonstrators at the Capitol.  During this process lobbyist Drew Klein, state director for Americans for Prosperity, advocated for this bill.  Turns out he was not registered during this time as a lobbyist.  The House Ethics Committee took up a complaint about Klein this week and we'll hear part of the committee's process during their first action of this General Assembly.

Iowa State University

Iowa’s Board of Regents is selecting a former Iowa State University administrator to return as interim president.  The Regents are meeting Monday to name Ben Allen interim president.

Allen served four years as ISU’s provost before the Regents appointed him president of University of Northern Iowa in 2006.  He led that campus until retiring in 2013.

Establishing and Restoring Windbreaks

Mar 24, 2017
National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff / flickr

 

The state of Iowa is no stranger to its share of strong, gusty winds. A row of trees and shrubs can make an noticeable difference in erosion control or in reducing home heating costs. Iowa State University Extension forrester, Jesse Randall, shares ways to plan for and establish healthy windbreaks.

His tips on how to configure a successful windbreak:

Peter Adamik By Euyo editor - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46860288

Is there a classical piece you'd love to share on Iowa's airwaves? Now you can. IPR's monthly classical request feature will debut on Barney's show on Friday, March 31st, from 2-4 PM, and it's easy to participate. Here's how:

 1.) Send your request by email to classical-request@iowapublicradio.org by midnight, Wednesday, March 29th.

Joyce Russell/IPR

On a partisan vote of 26 to 21, the GOP-controlled Senate last night approved its version of an elections bill that will require voters to present identification at the polls. 

The bill also requires pollworkers to verify signatures of voters, adds some complexity to absentee voting, as well as limiting the window for early voting.

That has led Democrats to argue that the bill will make it harder for Iowans to be handed a ballot, and more complicated  to complete the voting process. 

Flickr / Skywayman

While Iowa’s metropolitan communities continued to make population gains in 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau says the state's small towns got smaller. In just the last year Iowa’s micropolitans, communities with 10,000-50,000 people, shrunk in population by a net total of 0.4 percent.

The Spencer and Fort Madison-Keokuk communities saw the greatest declines in 2016.  Both lost one percent of their populations. Though since 2010, Clinton’s population has contracted the most -- by 3.7 percent.

University of Iowa Press

Who would think that doing a key word search of a massive newspaper database would turn up a previously unknown short novel by the much beloved 19th century author Walt Whitman?   University of Houston graduate student Zachary Turpin was the detective who uncovered his second Whitman find in an 1852 issue of an obscure New York City newspaper. 

David Bruce / Flickr

 

Spring in Iowa brings all kinds of weather - warm sunshine, high winds, severe thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes. Severe weather can do a number on roofs, siding and windows.

So, let’s say a hail storm hits your house. How do you know when it’s time to call the insurance company?

Home improvement expert Bill McAnally says that the first thing you want to do is see what size the hail was. If it was 3/4 of an inch or an inch, esp an inch or above, you probably have some damage. 

usembassy_montevideo/Flickr

 

President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, testified in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture committee today, but remains far from the head job at USDA.

 

The committee did not indicate when it would vote on whether to advance Perdue’s nomination.

 

Chris Becker/flickr

Students from Iowa State University were at the Capitol Thursday lobbying for a bill they believe will save the lives of underage drinkers on college campuses.  

The bill is designed to get young people to seek help when someone is incapacitated from too much alcohol.       

ISU Student Body President Cole Staudt recalls returning home with a drunken friend who was borderline unresponsive.

“I thought to myself, probably he should see someone, but I'm 19 years old,” Staudt recalls.  “If I get in  trouble with the law my world is over.”

Public Domain

President Trump's nominee to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court has faced questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Judge Neil Gorsuch has been asked about his view of the Constitution, legal precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade, and whether the president would be violating the law if he authorized torture for terrorists.

The nominee has declined to give many answers, saying he might have to rule on such matters in future cases. That has many questioning the purpose of the committee hearings.

Joshua and Lori Kagavi

In this episode of Lit City, we take an irreverent stroll down Iowa City's famed Literary Walk before focusing in on some athletes and artists whose stories haven't yet been commemorated in bronze.

First we hear the tragic stories of some of Iowa's first African-American college football players from Jaime Schultz, Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Penn State and author of Moments of Impact: Injury, Racialized Memory, and Reconciliation in College Football. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Three nominees for the Iowa Board of Regents faced questioning from the Iowa Senate Education Committee, as Senators mull whether to confirm Governor Branstad’s choices for six-year terms on the board.

The nominees are former Republican State Senator Nancy Boettger of Harlan and former Democratic State Representative Nancy Dunkel of Dyersville.

Branstad reappointed Regent Sherry Bates, who has served only a partial term on the board.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Ethics Committee in the Iowa House Wednesday voted unanimously to reprimand Drew Klein with the Koch Brothers-funded group Americans for Prosperity for failing to register as a lobbyist on controversial legislation earlier this session.   

The bill dramatically scaled back collective bargaining rights for Iowa public employees.  

Iowa Federation of Labor president Ken Sagar filed the complaint alleging Klein lobbied aggressively for the collective bargaining bill without registering his support for the bill as required by House ethics rules.  

Report Shows Increase in Liver Cancer Among Iowans

Mar 22, 2017
University of Iowa College of Public Health

A new report from the State Health Registry of Iowa shows the rate of new liver cancer cases has tripled in the state since the 1970s.

According to the "Cancer in Iowa" report released Wednesday, new cases of liver cancer were detected in six of 100,000 Iowans in the period from 2010 to 2014. 

John Pemble/IPR

Republican lawmakers in the Iowa House have begun a second attempt to ban abortion in the state after the 20th week of pregnancy.     

The GOP caucus in the House is strongly anti-abortion, but there are divisions about how far an abortion restriction should go.   

Earlier the House Human Resources committee failed to pass the 20-week ban.   

Many members had wanted to go further and outlaw abortion altogether.   

Now a 20-week ban has come over from the Senate, with an exception for fetal anomalies.  

Congressman Steve King Facebook page

Republican U-S Congressman Steve King will cast the Iowa delegation’s only “yes” vote when the Republican health care bill comes to the House floor  Thursday.  King says he’ll vote in favor of the bill because he has a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remove a requirement that all insurance policies provide certain benefits.

The Iowa songwriting power duo of Society of Broken Souls— comprised of Lauryn Shapter and Dennis James— will grace IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" stage at The Java House in downtown Iowa City on Friday, March 24th. 

Swing by at 2 P.M. to listen to the group weave vivid stories with their lyrics while playing a wide range of sounds and instruments. Plus, hear the pair dive deep into their story-oriented approach to songwriting with Java Blend host Ben Kieffer. 

Flickr / Regina Hart

Though there have not been any U.S. cases of the strain of avian flu that has killed more than 140 people in China this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s head veterinarian says the agency is making preparations to combat the deadly virus in case it reaches North America. 

The USDA’s Dr. Jack Shere says it's impossible to predict how far a particular bird flu strain may travel or mutate. In the meantime, however, scientists are on alert. 

Studio One New Releases

Mar 22, 2017
IPR/Tony Dehner

We're constantly receiving new music in the Studio One library, and it can be tough to keep track of sometimes. Here's five new releases we're especially excited about sharing with you.

Conor Oberst, Salutations

A sequel of sorts to Conor Oberst's fall release Ruminations, 10 of the 17 songs here appeared on that album as solo acoustic versions. Oberst has brought a full band with him this time around.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad and First Lady Chris Branstad will not be leaving their entire family behind when they move to Beijing for Branstad to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China.    

Speaking in Des Moines Tuesday,  Branstad said his daughter Allison and her family will also be moving to Beijing.  

“My daughter has interviewed for a teaching job in China via Skype,” Branstad said.    “She got an offer from the Beijing International School.”

Costa accepted the offer to teach 3rd grade.

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