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Ted Cruz officially announced his presidential bid Monday.

"Over and over again when we faced impossible odds, the American people rose to the challenge. You know compared to that, repealing Obamacare and abolishing the IRS ain't all that tough," Cruz said.

Frederick W. Kent / Iowa Digital Library

Some Other Town is a debut novel from native Iowan Elizabeth Collison, and the nameless Midwestern town in the book bears striking similarity to Iowa City.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Collison about her life and her work.

Collison grew up in Marshalltown and received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Amy Mayer/Iowa Public Radio file photo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed changes on Tuesday to the rules that govern which farmers can receive government subsidies.

The goal is to cut off payments to people who claim they’re involved in the management of a farm, but aren’t doing much managing.

Farmers who own land, run cattle, or spend their spring planting corn can relax – the proposed rule change doesn’t impact their ability to collect up to a $125,000 a year in government subsidies.

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Katie Roche is no stranger to the stage. She's in both the all-female folk band The Awful Purdies and the swing band The Dandelion Stompers.

But one of her recent efforts is with a special band member--her six-year-old daughter Stella Roux. Roche and Roux have a song featured on "For Kids & By Kids: Songs from Iowa Rock City Volume One." 

John Pemble / IPR

Five Republicans and five Democrats met again at the statehouse Tuesday without resolving an ongoing conflict over how much state money K-12 schools should get next year.  While districts around the state await word, the House and Senate remain 100 million dollars apart. Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen couldn’t say what the resolution will be.

”We didn't have it today obviously,” Paulsen says.  “Educators are looking for us to get this resolved and my hope is that we can get that done.” 

Okki via Wikimedia Commons

Over his writing career spanning more than 30 years, W.P. Kinsella has become one of the finest storytellers in baseball’s history. He is also an acclaimed satirical author.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Kinsella about his writing and his new book, "The Essential W.P. Kinsella",  a collection of some of his best short stories over the years.

Tim Lucas / flickr

"We gain so much more when we focus on people’s positives," says lawyer, speaker, and freelance disability consultant, Matan Koch.

Koch will speak at Coe College the evening of March 24. Ahead of his appearance, Ben Kieffer talks with Koch about how to encourage the talent, purchasing power, and experience of the disability community.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A Republican-dominated panel in the Iowa House Tuesday signed off on a Senate bill to revise sentences  for underage offenders who commit homicide. Backers say the bill would bring Iowa into compliance with court rulings that Iowa’s current law is unconstitutional. 

Both the U.S. and the Iowa Supreme Courts threw out Iowa’s law mandating life in prison without parole for teen killers. The Senate bill gives courts other options. Courts could allow parole immediately. But they could also still hand down the life without parole sentence.   

Flickr / Tobias Leeger

The Iowa House passed a bill on the contentious issue of school start dates for Iowa K-12 students today. The legislation allows middle and elementary schools that follow year-round calendars to set an early school start date; however, all other schools could start only as early as August 23.

State Rep. Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, voted against the bill. She says the one-size-fits-all start date for high schools is a bad approach.

Amy Mayer/Iowa Public Radio

The U.S. Senate agriculture committee heard testimony today on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

Nearly a year ago, the EPA proposed a change to the Clean Water Act that it says would clarify its authority over certain wetlands and streams. But Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who serves on the agriculture committee, says the proposal has met strong opposition in farm country.

Grant Gerlock/Harveset Public Media

More than a dozen federal agencies form a patchwork system that aims to keep food from making Americans sick. But critics say the old system has worn thin. And some think we would all be safer if food safety at the federal level was brought under one roof.

Walking through Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb. shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Inside the warehouse pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour and the smell of fresh baked apple-cinnamon muffins is in the air.

Iowa Public Radio

Republicans would dominate on the Iowa Board of Regents if three new nominees are confirmed, and one Senate Democrat says Governor Branstad is not following the intent of the law with the appointments.  

The governor nominated Vermeer executive Mary Andringa, Des Moines community volunteer Patty Cownie, and UNI student Rachel Johnson.  

Coralville Democrat Bob Dvorsky says with the appointments the nine-member board will include five Republicans, two Democrats, and two Independents.    

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa Senate is unlikely to take up the issue of collective bargaining, so why did the House debate it until 10 PM last Tuesday?

State Rep. Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, felt that the bill was a distraction from the bigger issue of school funding.

"They are waiting to know what their funds will be for this upcoming school year and we felt like this entire bill was a distraction and that's why we totally opposed it," Steckman says.

But State Rep. Greg Forristall, a Republican from Macedonia, says that these processes sometimes take years. 

Mama Jan Smith / flickr

Fifty years ago The Sound of Music hit the big screen, and people all over the world fell in love with the von Trapp family.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Sofia and Amanda von Trapp. Along with their brother and sister, they are carrying on the family legacy, but not quite in the way you might expect. 

Photo by John Pemble

Lawmakers in the Iowa Republican House last week passed legislation that would weaken bargaining rights for teachers unions. It’s unlikely to even be taken up in the Democratic-controlled Senate. It’s just another part of the fights over education at the Iowa statehouse. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the week ahead at the capitol. 

Photo by John Pemble

March 21st, 2015 was the 330th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s birth, a prominent composer of classical music. On Saturday across the world, his life was celebrated through performances in unexpected public places, including one on the steps of Iowa’s former Capitol in Iowa City.

Second full-length album from indie "supergroup"

Sunday Baroque

 Suzanne Bona, flutist and host of Sunday Baroque, knows her Bach. In honor of his birthday, this Sunday from 8am to noon she's devoting her entire program to his music. Suzanne appreciates many different styles of Bach playing and has a keen ear for performances that turn out special. Which works and recordings will she choose? Tune in and find out!

Afterwards, Barney will host four hours of music that's NOT by Bach - although some of it will be by Bach's family members, predecessors and devotees. Stay tuned to hear that (and also, Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony).

Tamer Koseli / flickr

When The Gazette filed an open records request with the Cedar Rapids Community School District, the district quoted the cost of the information at $260,000.

That’s a pretty high starting point," says Erin Jordan, reporter for The Gazette and KCRG. "A lot of people seeing that would think, 'Well that number is designed to make the requester go away.'"

With negotiations, the paper ended up paying the district only $740 for most of the documents originally requested.

BostonTx / flickr

As Iowans consume more local craft beer, there's demand for more convenient access. So, what if 64-ounce glass to-go containers, known as growlers, were available at local grocery stores and gas stations?

A bill being considered by the Iowa Senate would do just that.

Iowa Senator Jeff Danielson (D) proposed the legislation, which he says complies with both Class C liquor licenses and open container laws. He chairs the senate committee in charge of alcohol and gaming. He says the committee takes its time considering all the potential ramifications of any new liquor law.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

Does the Iowa Constitution protect the right to a so-called telemed abortion? That’s a question currently before the Iowa Supreme Court.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Todd Pettys, Associate Dean for Faculty and H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation at the University of Iowa College of Law, and Ryan Koopmans, attorney at Nyemaster Goode law firm in Des Moines.

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Steveson

 The UNI Panthers are moving to the next round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

They easily handled Wyoming Friday afternoon 71-54 for their 31st win of the season..

They'll take on the winner of the Louisville-UC Irvine game Sunday.

Iowa State lost yesterday against UAB 60-59. The University of Iowa Hawkeyes play tonight at 6:20 on TNT. 

Wikimedia Commons

Now that the snow is gone, it’s easy to see where the dead spots are in your lawn. If that’s making you eager to seed your yard, Iowa State University Horticulture Professor Nick Christians tells host Charity Nebbe he recommends waiting a month or two.

  “A common mistake that people make is that they buy seed, and they put it out but nothing happens because the soil is too cool. It will be well into April before rye grasses will germinate and well into May before blue grasses will germinate.”

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

 

A battle is brewing in the organic food industry.

The largest trade association for organic farmers, marketers and processors wants growers to help pay for promotional campaigns, using a decades-old funding model that paid for iconic ads like “Got Milk?” and “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner.” But deciding how to spread the organic message is dividing the sector into factions.

Jess Calhoun

Members of a gun safety group that formed after the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut were at the Iowa statehouse today. They’re lobbying against a bill awaiting debate in the Iowa Senate that critics say will expand access to firearms. 

Jess Calhoun of Ames is with the Iowa affiliate of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

“We want to work to see more common sense solutions to gun violence in our country,” Calhoun says.

Brock Builders / Flickr

If you’re looking for ways to use less energy in your home, getting your house deep energy retrofitted may an option.

Home improvement expert Bill McAnally describes the process as a remodel from the outside. It involves an energy audit and remediation that can reduce energy consumption by 30 percent in some cases, as well as improve the value of a home. He cautions that it can be a costly process.

Whatsername? / flickr

Iowa ranks as one of the highest binge drinking states in the country.

And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the yearly cost from excessive alcohol consumption in Iowa is about $2 billion.

Photo Courtesy of Catie Parrish

Iowa State has become the first upset victim at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The third-seeded Cyclones were stunned by 14th seeded University of Alabama at Birmingham this afternoon 60-59.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

 

Approval for supplemental funding for Iowa's schools has been stalemated in the Iowa Legislature so far this session. Democrats are proposing a 4 percent increase and Republicans are holding strong at a 1.25 percent increase. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

After a roughly nine hour debate, Republicans in the Iowa House today voted strictly along party lines to scale back Iowa’s collective bargaining law for public employees, but only for teachers and other school employees. Dozens of education groups lobbied hard against the bill, which could make it more likely that teachers would get smaller raises when the school and teachers union disagree. Mason City Democrat Sharon Steckman calls the bill an attack on public schools.

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