News

WIKICOMMONS / Farragutful

Five counties in eastern Iowa are trying out a less formal approach to family court in hopes of resolving cases faster and preserving court resources.  

Judge Nancy Tabor of Scott County says currently her docket is full of people representing themselves. Most people aren’t familiar with the court system, which means these cases take a lot of time.

So Tabor is trying out a more straightforward approach.

johnson county building
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Johnson County supervisor said he is disappointed in the Legislature’s decision to pass a bill prohibiting local governments from setting their own minimum wages.  

Johnson County has the highest minimum wage in the state at $10.10. It would be set back to $7.25 if Gov. Terry Branstad signs the preemption bill into law.

Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan said he thinks it is a mistake for the state to “usurp local control.”

Lynn Smith is an audio visual archivist for the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, and a few years ago, she made a discovery.

“I was looking at films that were supposed to be in black and white and on the side, I saw ‘kodacolor.’ So, I started doing some research,” says Smith. "Kodacolor film appears to be in black and white until it's run through a special projector." 

The color film she uncovered contains the earliest known color images of the White House and was shot by former First Lady Lou Henry Hoover.

Michael Leland

Large migratory birds, including turkey vultures, sandhill cranes, great blue herons, and bald eagles, are on the move in Iowa this spring. One eagle in particular is trying to hatch out of its shell in a nest just north of Decorah.

[See live feeds of eagles - both the "Decorah Eagles" and the "Decorah North Nest"]

Joyce Russell/IPR

Legislation to address Iowa’s deadly opioid epidemic passed the Iowa House today by a wide margin, but lawmakers turned down a Democratic amendment to make it harder to fraudulently acquire prescription painkillers.   

The bill will require all doctors to register with the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.  

John Pemble /IPR file photo

President Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awaiting a vote in the Senate agriculture committee, which could come this week. Committee member Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, is confident Perdue will ultimately be confirmed by the full Senate.

“Agriculture will have a big advocate in the Trump administration once Gov. Perdue is in place,” Grassley says.

Ben Kieffer

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Des Moines singer-songwriter Ryne Doughty joins host Ben Kieffer for an hour of authentic Midwest folk music played by some of Iowa's best musicians. 

Download the podcast below to hear Doughty— joined by Iowa blues legend Pat Hazell on harmonica and Des Moines percussionist Will Locker— play a set full of catchy, feel good tunes that won't leave your head for days. 

John Pemble/IPR

A controversial bill to limit benefits for injured Iowa workers won final legislative approval last night, passing the Iowa Senate on a partisan vote of 29 to 21.   

Backers say the current system has become biased against employers.  

Critics say the bill will reduce employers’ liability to provide benefits to workers injured on the job.  

Officials estimate that 20,000 Iowa workers are injured each year.

This week’s Symphony of Iowa features Orchestra Iowa’s “American Mystics” concert on Sunday, April 2 at 4 p.m. and Monday, April 3 at 7 p.m.

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. 

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