News

Sarah Boden/IPR

Republicans in the Iowa House say one of their top priorities in the next legislative session is supplemental state aid for Iowa school districts. That’s according to Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, who met with reporters after her caucus discussed legislative priorities on Thursday.

Upmeyer says ideally, the amount of money Iowa schools will receive from the state will be set within the first 30 days of the 2017 legislative session.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa's beef producers have agreed to spend an extra 50 cents a head for a state checkoff.

Checkoff programs fund marketing and education for a variety of agricultural products. The state conducted a referendum on Nov. 30 to see whether cattle producers wanted to re-establish a state checkoff.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has accepted President-elect Donald Trump's invitation to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China. Jonathan Hassid, an assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University, says that gives Branstad a chance to capitalize on years of relationship building. Branstad has had a relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping since Branstad's first term in office. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A number of health organizations are joining the push to fund the dormant Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. They contend it will lead Iowans to more active lifestyles.

Iowa voters approved the fund by 63 percent in 2010. It has never held any money. Supporters are calling on the Legislature to approve a three-eighths cent sales tax increase to fill its coffers. A campaign coordinator with the American Heart Association, Seth Johnson, says his group is joining Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy coalition to draw support for hiking trails and other outdoor activities.

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

Just a day after Governor Branstad met with President-Elect Donald Trump the news is now official.   Branstad has accepted an invitation to become U.S. Ambassador to China.  

Officials from both parties are weighing in.     Now the speculation begins on the political ramifications of Branstad leaving office.  

A spokesman for the Trump transition team  said it’s Branstad’s experience in public policy, trade, and agriculture that won him  the job.

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

A Washington, D.C.-based think tank is out with a report looking at the degree to which high-tech innovation contributes to the economy in each of the nation’s 435 Congressional districts. Iowa’s four districts are showing large numbers for the exports of high-tech manufactured goods and intellectual property.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is being recognized for encouraging young people to choose careers that will help farmers combat climate change and feed more people.

Since 2011, USDA has partnered with the Des Moines-based World Food Prize to offer fellowships in Washington, D.C. for agriculture students.

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Cedar Rapids police officer who shot a black man during a traffic stop last month, leaving him paralyzed, will not be charged with a crime. Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden says a grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to indict Officer Lucas Jones in the shooting of Jerime Mitchell.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Gov. Terry Branstad to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, pending Senate confirmation.  The word from the Trump transition team comes a day after the two men met at Trump Tower in New York City.

If Branstad becomes ambassador, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds would become the first woman to serve as Iowa governor.

Harmonious Wail

Harmonious Wail paid a visit to The Folk Tree on Sunday, December 4th. This Madison, Wisconsin-based trio has traveled the world sharing their gypsy/jazz/acoustic/swing sounds. Graced by the exquisite vocals of Maggie Delaney-Pothoff and the sparkling mandolin of Sims Delaney-Pothoff, and anchored by the virtuoso bass playing of Jeff Weiss, their music brightened the winter afternoon for us. Learn more about them at wail.com.

Iowa Board of Regents

The Iowa Board of Regents has selected Mark Nook to be the 11th president of the University of Northern Iowa.  Nook is a native of Holstein, and received his undergraduate degree from Iowa State.  Since 2014, he has been the chancellor of Montana State University-Billings, which has a student body about one-third the size of UNI’s 12,000 student population. 

Practicing Gratitude

Dec 6, 2016
Courtesy of Brad Anderson

Whether you’re grateful for the warm cup of coffee in your hands or for another day of life, the act of being grateful can be powerful. Many question whether the act of being grateful can have physical benefits as well.

Iowa Department of Education

A report issued Tuesday gives an early glimpse at how well the state’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation Program is working. The study indicates improved classroom instruction, which is yet to show up in the form of improved student achievement.

Principal Financial Group

The Des Moines-based financial services company Principal Financial Group is projecting steady growth during 2017. The expectations follow a pattern of revenue increases the company has seen over the past several years.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Update Dec. 7 at 8:09 am:  Several news reports quote unnamed sources saying President-elect Trump has offered the ambassadorship to Branstad and that he has accepted.  Gov. Branstad's spokesman, Ben Hammes, tells IPR the report is "premature and not confirmed."  We will update this story as we learn more.

Tuesday's story:

Governor Branstad had what he calls a cordial conversation today with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City.    

But the governor remains mum about a possible appointment in the new administration.   

Mike Mozart / Flickr

This show originally aired May 12, 2016

With the lawsuits between North Carolina and the Department of Justice and widespread boycotts of establishments like Target for their inclusive bathroom policies, transgender rights have been dominating the news cycle. In the middle of the politics and punditry, it's easy to lose sight of what being transgender actually means. Jay Irwin, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, says language is a good place to start.

Orchestra Iowa

This Performance Iowa broadcast features Orchestra Iowa’s 2015 “Holiday Spectacular” concert. The festive program includes holiday favorites and works by Bach, Corelli, Vaughan Williams, and more!

Paul Stein / Wikimedia Commons

Coloring books published for grown ups have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Mark Muller, an Iowa city based artist who just published his first coloring book through University of Iowa Press, jokes that when he first heard about the trend, he misunderstood what was going on. 

"When I first heard of the adult coloring trend, I thought it was pornographic," he laughs. "Then I realized it meant coloring books for adults. I think it's a really cool thing." 

John Pemble/IPR

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann says he will seek another term after leading his party to major victories in the 2016 election.

Iowa's top Republicans, including Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Governor Branstad, and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, wrote Kaufmann a letter Friday, asking him to stay on as the party's chairman.

No one else has emerged to challenge Kaufmann, so it's likely he'll be re-elected January 28th when the Iowa GOP's state central committee meets.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Protesters gathered at the offices of the Iowa Utilities Board on Monday to celebrate the Army Corps of Engineers stopping pipeline construction in North Dakota. Iowa’s Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition also delivered a letter to the state utilities board, urging it to revoke the pipeline’s Iowa permit. 

The Army Corps’s decision to not allow the pipeline to cross a reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is not a fatal blow to Dakota Access. The pipeline could be rerouted, and the Corps’s decision may be appealed.

Jimmy Centers / Office of Governor Terry Branstad

Governor Branstad will meet later this week in New York City with president-elect Donald Trump amid speculation the governor will be asked to become U.S. Ambassador to China. 

Branstad is rumored to be among Trump’s top choices for the job.   This past weekend, a Bloomberg Politics report said Branstad is the frontrunner for the post.

Branstad leaves for a previously-scheduled economic development trip to New York City Tuesday and is scheduled to meet at some point with Trump before he leaves New York.    

Jessica Reznicek

An Iowa woman says she ended her two-week fast in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline last night. Jessica Reznicek had a bowl of chicken soup after the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement that puts completion of pipeline construction at an impasse.

The Army Corps has denied permission of pipeline construction for a section of the route in North Dakota. But it said the pipeline may be rerouted, so Reznicek is continuing her efforts to oppose Dakota Access, including a Wednesday sit-in at the utilities board.

Joyce Russell/IPR

From 2001 to 2014, there was a 6-fold increase in the total number of deaths due to heroin.  Iowa has seen a similar spike in opioid-related deaths.

Officials say emergency room visits in Iowa related to opioid overdose have increased more than 200 percent over the last 10 years. Drug overdose deaths in Iowa more than tripled during that time. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A top Republican in the Iowa legislature is calling for a comprehensive review of state tax policy, including cutting taxes, now that his party is in full control at the statehouse.   

House GOP leader Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights)  answered questions at a meeting of the Iowa Taxpayers Association today.  

“I think we need a completely fresh look at tax policy in this state top to bottom and we're going to go through that,”  Hagenow said.  “Fundamentally, it’s 'are we going to find a way to reduce the tax burden  of Iowa taxpayers?'”  

Christmas Trees And Poinsettias: What To Look For And How To Keep Them Alive

Dec 2, 2016
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Alby Headrick / Flickr

With the holidays upon us many of us will bring new plant life into our homes.  Choosing the right poinsettia or Christmas tree can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. 

MadMaxMarchHere / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Northern Iowa is in the process of hiring a new President after former President William Ruud resigned to take another position with Marietta College in Ohio. The City of Des Moines is considering hiring a bicycle liaison to ensure that pedestrian and cyclist safety are addressed in city planning, and an entirely re-imagined version of the Nutcracker is debuting in Iowa this week. 

Every fall, Iowa Public Radio celebrates Iowa week with a series of programs devoted to exploring culture in our state and what it means to be Iowan. The theme for 2016 was “Artistic Iowa,” and as a part of that series, we asked listeners to send us their line drawings depicting what Iowa means to them. We received more than 300 submissions from across the state from artists ranging in age from 8 to 68.

Amy Mayer / Iowa Public Radio

As he prepares to leave Washington, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warns the next administration about the impact of global markets on U. S. farmers. 

Vilsack is quick to point out he’s not privy to any information from the Republican president-elect, but he’s worried about how Donald Trump will approach immigration and trade.  Vilsack says bad decisions could spur retaliation from China and Mexico—two of the top three trading partners for the U.S.

Iowa Reading Research Center

The Iowa Reading Research Center is out with the results of a study into the effectiveness of summer reading programs. The report comes as every school district in the state approaches a deadline to enact some form of summer reading program.

Flickr / thenicole

All 902 plow trucks owned by the Iowa Department of Transportation now equipped with a new GPS system. It allows vehicles to gather all sorts of data, which the DOT will use for clearing Iowa’s roadways of snow and ice more efficiently. 

Craig Bargfrede heads DOT winter operations. This new system costs about $850,000, but Bargfrede says the upgrade will pay for itself in time and money savings. 

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