News

Johnathon Choate / UI College of Public Health

After a spike in gun violence in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines over the last few years, the state of Iowa is moving towards approaching violence as a public health issue, following the example of cities like Baltimore.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dr. Leana Wen, health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, who has been approaching Baltimore's issues with poverty, gun violence, and addiction as public health issues, rather than criminal justice problems. 

SARAH BODEN/IPR FILE

Tomorrow afternoon, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the ACLU of Iowa are asking a judge for an emergency injunction to stop a law that requires women wait 72-hour before receiving an abortion. The law is slated to go into effect Friday morning, unless the Polk County District Court intervenes.

The plaintiffs argue the law violates women's equal protection rights by trying to stop them from having abortions. They also argue the law is unconstitutional, as it singles out the procedure by objecting it onerous restrictions. 

abby finkenauer
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Democratic state representative says she intends to run for Congress in 2018 to represent northeast Iowa.

Abby Finkenauer of Dubuque is hoping to challenge Republican Rep. Rod Blum in the race for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.

Finkenauer says she wants to focus on policies that support working families and raise wages in Iowa.

EntreFest

An event billed as the largest gathering of entrepreneurs in Iowa returns this week after a year off. EntreFest is coming back to downtown Iowa City Thursday and Friday.

The conference for start-up business owners was launched in 2008 and managed for several years by the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation. But EntreFest went dark last year as operation of the event switched to Cedar Rapids-based New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative. Its events director, Jill Wilkins, says she’s glad to see Entrefest return.

Iowa's own master songwriter Chad Elliott will once again bring his talents to the Java Blend stage this Friday, May 5th. 

Stop by The Java House in downtown Iowa City at 2 P.M. to hear Elliott discuss his many creative projects, tell stories from his time on the road, and play tunes off his forthcoming record, "RINGGOLD." 

FLICKR / JENNIFER MORROW

People in 94 of Iowa’s 99 counties may have no options in 2018 for buying individual healthcare polices on the state's insurance exchange that was created under the Affordable Care Act. 

Currently nearly 48,000 people have insurance through Iowa's ACA exchange. But recently two of the three insurers providing individual plans announced they were leaving the Iowa market next year.

That left Minnesota-based Medica to be the exchange's likely sole participant. Now Medica is saying that it too may be leaving the state.

Screenshot: Iowa Public Television's "Greetings From Iowa"

Iowa Public Television has unveiled their new digital-first series "Greetings from Iowa."  In this Talk of Iowa conversation, host Charity Nebbe talks with IPTV Producer/Director Tyler Brinegar who developed the series and IPTV's Digital Content Manager Taylor Shore.  

F_A seelensturm / Flickr

Spraying herbicide to achieve what many consider to be the ideal lawn became a common practice in the mid-20th century. Many people stopped that practice after studies showing the health impact of human contact with common pesticides and weed killers.

Chris Wahlberg, courtesy San Francisco Symphony

When the San Francisco Symphony appointed the American conductor, composer, and pianist Michael Tilson Thomas as its music director, the chemistry was perfect from the start. The orchestra and "MTT" inspired each other creatively, and conveyed the artistic excitement to listeners. That was in 1995, and since then the orchestra has gained even more international renown than it already had, winning the most prestigious international prizes, including the Gramophone Award, France's Grand Prix du Disque, Japan's Record Academy, and no fewer than 11 Grammy Awards.

John Pemble / IPR

If Governor Terry Branstad is confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to China, that will make Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds the next governor. Attorney General Tom Miller issued an opinion this week concluding Reynolds should not appoint a new lieutenant governor when she assumes the state’s highest job. Reynolds is disappointed with the attorney general contradicting his informal opinion he made last year. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters sat down with Lt.

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

Cedar Rapids is appealing a judge’s ruling that the Iowa Department of Transportation can order the city to remove some highway speed cameras.

The city has stopped issuing speeding tickets from cameras on I-380 but is requesting a stay of the order to remove those cameras.

Cedar Rapids spokeswoman Maria Johnson says city attorneys felt the need to act immediately.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Since 2013, gonorrhea infections have risen 75% in Iowa. To explore why that is the case, in this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with George Walton, STD Program Manager for the Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis for the Iowa Department of Public Health and Emily Wentzell, who is an anthropology professor at the University of Iowa. 

Walton says the reason for the increase include increased testing and encouragement of providers to test patients for infection at multiple places on the body. 

The Federal Communications Commission last week revealed a plan that would roll back net Obama era neutrality rules. These are the rules that make it illegal for internet service providers to slow down or speed up your access to a certain website. During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai about net neutrality and the role of the FCC in a changing media landscape. 

Pai says the rule change is necessary to encourage internet service providers to expand access to rural areas. 

Dwight Sipler

If a farmer grows lettuce and a local school district wants to use it in the cafeteria, who chops it? It proves to be a more challenging question to answer than it might seem.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores the middle structure of the local food system by talking with Brandi Janssen about her new book, Making Local Food Work: The Challenges and Opportunities of Today's Small Farmers.

DOC SEARLS

Iowa is making improvements on alcohol use, but still has a ways to go when it comes to bullying. That’s according to the director of the recent Iowa Youth Survey, which samples 6th, 8th and 11th graders every two years.  

In 2016 youth drinking in Iowa continued to decline, especially among 11th graders.

In 2012, more than 26.4 percent of high school juniors reported having a drink in the past 30 days. In 2016 this number dropped to 21.3 percent.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Governor Terry Branstad will go before a Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing this morning to become the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Back in 2010, he campaigned for the governorship again on a promise to add 200,000 jobs in Iowa.  We wanted to follow up on that campaign goal with Iowa State University Economist Dave Swenson, who says a governor really doesn’t have much control over gross job gains. 

groundwater sensor
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A helicopter towing a large sensor will fly low over Cedar Rapids this week as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s effort to map the city’s groundwater supply.

The City of Cedar Rapids can use that information to plan for changes in the Cedar River aquifer and make more informed decisions about water resource development.

Cedar Rapids Utilities Engineering Manager Bruce Jacobs says declining water levels in wells during the 2012 drought led to this effort to better understand the aquifer.

Doc Searls

What we want out of students attending school has changed over hundreds of years.  Are we preparing students for jobs, for life, for citizenship, for social mobility? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores the history of the debate with University of Iowa's Chris Ogren, associate professor of history of education in the department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies.

Director of the Iowa Department of Education Ryan Wise, and two retired teachers, Charles Blair-Broeker and Michael Peterson, also join the conversation. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

In a surprise formal opinion issued today, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller concluded that Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds should not appoint a new lieutenant governor when she assumes the state’s highest office.   

The opinion contradicts an informal opinion from Miller last year.   

Republicans are sharply critical of the new advice.

In December, Miller’s office said it had researched Iowa law and consulted with the governor’s office.

Barry Dale Gilfry / Flickr

The 2017 Iowa legislative session was historic in the sense that Republicans held a state government trifecta for the first time in 20 years, and the session carried some major themes including labor issues and family planning services.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with statehouse reporters across the Midwest to see what plans and proposals are being considered in their neck of the woods, as well as the political dynamics of their chambers after the 2016 election.

WIKICOMMONS / Holger.Ellgaard

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office says that for once, a caller claiming to be working on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service may not be a scammer, but instead a legitimate private debt contractor. 

Last month the IRS Private Debt Collection Program went into effect. Congress enacted the law in 2015, authorizing the federal agency to use private collections firms to call people who owe overdue taxes.

The debts targeted in this program are older, past-due balances the IRS is no longer actively seeking to collect.

Dean Borg/IPR

Iowa’s Board of Regents has elected Dr. Michael Richards as the new board president.  He’s a 1970 University of Iowa Medical School graduate now living in West Des Moines.

Richards is a physician and former Unity Point health care executive. He was appointed to the board a year ago this month.  Richards lists setting tuition and getting a new president at Iowa State as the most immediate issues. 

Wolf Trap Opera

The Des Moines Metro Opera concludes Iowa Public Radio’s 2017 Arias in April series with a performance from their 44th Festival Season. IPR’s first DMMO broadcast features Verdi’s Falstaff on Saturday, May 6th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 7th at 11:00 p.m.

kids share delmar books
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

As Iowa’s metropolitan areas continue to grow, many small towns across the state are losing people and businesses.

In eastern Iowa, a town of about 500 people is making a more creative attempt at reversing that trend by using an oral history project to stimulate development. Delmar has paired up its youngest and oldest residents to explore how the community’s past and shared values may help shape its future.

In downtown Delmar, the storefronts are empty, paint is peeling off the buildings, and a quiet park has replaced the train tracks that used to dominate the town.

The abortion-access advocacy organization NARAL Pro-Choice America is urging Gov. Terry Branstad to veto legislation it says threatens women's health and plays politics with women's lives.

Senate File 471 requires women to wait three days before receiving an abortion and have an ultrasound before the procedure. It also bans abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy. 

"There is still time for the governor to do the right thing," says NARAL's James Owens. "This bill introduced ideology into the doctor’s room and tries to shame women away from accessing basic healthcare." 

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

Cedar Rapids is considering whether to appeal a ruling by an Iowa judge in a lawsuit over highway speed cameras. It affirms the Iowa Department of Transportation’s right to order the removal of some cameras.

Mayor Ron Corbett says attorneys are taking a few days to review the judge's ruling. 

"The Cedar Rapids City Council will probably decide at their next council meeting whether we want to join Des Moines and Muscatine and appeal the case," Corbett says.

Cedar Rapids takes in more revenue from traffic cameras than any other city in the state. 

Planting Wildflowers in Iowa

Apr 28, 2017
Brett Whaley / Flickr

The end of April is a great time to explore nature and see wildflowers in bloom across Iowa. The beauty of these flowers is fleeting as they bloom and wilt all before the trees have fully expanded their leaves. Having adapted to their woodland environment, wildflowers maximize their photosynthesis time before the woods become a shady environment for the summer months. Iowa State University extension horticulturist, Cindy Haynes, says that woodland phlox, shooting star, and wild columbine are a few wildflower varieties that have still yet to bloom.

Gage Skidmore

On this special "Pints and Politics" edition of River to River, Iowa Public Radio's Ben Kieffer co-hosts a discussion with Gazette opinion page editor Jennifer Hemmingsen.

Thursday evening, they gathered at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids to talk politics with columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman, as well as political reporter James Lynch of The Gazette. They discussed President Donald Trump’s first one-hundred days, as well as the main takeaways of the 2017 Iowa legislative session.

iowa city
Kris / flickr

Iowa City has been selected to host a meeting of the world’s UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Delegates from all over the world will be in town for a three-day meeting in 2018. Past meetings have been held in Barcelona, Dublin and Heidelberg, Germany.

City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon says it’s an opportunity to show off Iowa City and highlight what makes it a City of Literature.

WIKICOMMONS / Kevin Schuchmann

Iowans are being encouraged to clean out their medicine cabinets this Saturday by taking unwanted and expired medications to more than 100 disposal sites.

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