News

Jo Naylor

Governor Branstad had harsh words today for Iowa’s public schools who want a penny sales tax extended to benefit school infrastructure projects.

The one-cent sales tax is set to expire in 2029.   Schools use the money to back up bonding for everything from building repairs to technology upgrades.  

The governor wants to extend the tax, but he wants some of the revenue diverted to water quality.

At his weekly news conference, Branstad lashed out against schools for opposing his plan.  

Courtesy of DMMO

Iowa Public Radio’s Arias in April program is back with a month of exciting Iowa-produced operas. Our series features the Des Moines Metro Opera’s 43rd festival season and productions by Simpson College Opera and the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Low electric rates in Iowa are being touted by none other than billionaire Warren Buffett, whose company owns MidAmerican Energy. Rick Fredericksen has the story.

Pete Zarria / Flickr

Last weekend in Cedar Rapids, two people died of gunshot wounds in separate incidents. Community leaders gathered for a press conference Monday to discuss possible solutions. Among them was Dedric Doolin, Cedar Rapids Branch President of the NAACP and Director of the Area Substance Abuse Council. He says the problem of gun violence isn’t new and neither are attempts to solve it—from law enforcement, individuals, religious organizations, and non-profits.

The Iowa Supreme Court says a man found guilty of attempted murder and robbery won’t get a new trial, even though inaccurate reporting on a local news website was possibly seen by members of the jury. The case required justices to consider how its harder for jurors to avoid information that may prejudice them during a trial in the age of social media. 

Theodore Gathercole was found guilty in 2014. At the trial, jurors were frequently told to ignore print and broadcast accounts of the case. 

Corvus moneduloides / Wikimedia Commons

There's nothing quite like the taste of a ripe, red raspberry, but cultivating a berry patch can be thorny and a little confusing. If you want berries in the fall, now's the time to prune them. 

Lee Wright / Flickr

In January, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced a plan to renovate and modernize the state historical building of Iowa. That comes after the department scaled back hours and made staffing changes at the historical building in Iowa City. The new plan has some Iowa historians very worried.

Iowa Gunowners

There’s division in the ranks of gun rights groups in Iowa over pro-gun bills which have gained final passage in the Iowa legislature.

A group that calls itself Iowa’s Only No Compromise Gun Lobby is criticizing the compromise bills, and blaming the NRA and the Iowa Firearms Coalition for their role in the negotiations.  

Payton Chung, Flickr / Wikimedia Commons

When filmmaker Ronit Bezalel first arrived in Chicago as a film student in 1994, all she knew about Cabrini Green was its reputation. "I could see Cabrini from the windows of the 'L,' and people told me to avoid it at all costs. I wanted to know why I couldn't go there."

Pipeline developer Dakota Access, the subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer partners has been granted eminent domain powers by the Iowa Utilities Board in order to build the Bakken pipeline, an interstate crude oil pipeline that would cut diagonally across the state for 343 miles. It’s the first interstate pipeline that could be built in the state in 15 years.

Utility crews say they're making great progress restoring power to thousands of customers who had lost it during last night and this morning's snowstorm. Parts of northwest Iowa were hit the heaviest, with up to 12" or more falling in Plymouth, Ida, Cherokee, and Woodbury Counties, and as much as 17" reported around Sioux City.

The three healthcare companies taking over Iowa’s Medicaid system next week each say they are ready and that their network contains the vast majority of providers who have been serving Iowa’s Medicaid recipients.

"We have a very comprehensive network across the state and across all types of services," says Cheryl Harding of AmeriHealth Caritas.

Network adequacy was one reason the federal government delayed Iowa's implementation of privatized Medicaid. There were concerns that not enough providers had agreed to continue serving Medicaid recipients. 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa officials say a new pork processing plant coming to North Iowa will boost the state’s hog industry. Officials announcing a pork processing plant soon to be built near Interstate 35 in the Mason City-Clear Lake area were celebrating the anticipated two-thousand jobs this week.

But Iowa’s Pork Producers Association sees extra capacity.  It says the state’s existing 16-pork processing plants will be straining later this year to accommodate expected large marketings.

Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey also welcomes more capacity.

Peter Checchia

April is blessed with an amazing array of Iowa arts and music events! This month’s Iowa Arts Showcase features:

·         Marlboro violist, Samuel Rhodes, and Administrator, Frank Solomon, sharing details about the 50th Anniversary Season of the Musicians from Marlboro and their stop in Ames as part of the Ames Town and Gown Series

·         World-renowned pianist Jeremy Denk outlining his jazz and ragtime infused Civic Music program at Sheslow Auditorium taking place on April 15

Carl Wycoff

Water quality is certainly an important topic in Iowa, but can it also be sexy and funny?

Jennifer Wilson thinks so, and she set out to prove it in her first novel, Water. The book takes on water quality and politics in Iowa, and it takes place against the familiar backdrop of Des Moines and Northeast Iowa.

On this Talk of Iowa interview, Charity Nebbe talks with Wilson about the book and its unconventional path to publication with t-shirt company RAYGUN. RAYGUN owner Mike Draper also joins the conversation to talk about the collaboration.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The organization that represents some 63,000 Iowans with Alzheimer’s disease had its annual lobby day at the capitol today. 

Officials with the Alzheimer's Association say they want more accountability for health care workers providing dementia care.    

Currently, health care workers in nursing homes and other facilities must have a certain number of hours of dementia training.  

Carol Sipfle, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association Iowa Chapter, wants workers to show their competence as well.

FLICKR / JEFF KUBINA

Workers at an Iowa slaughterhouse scored a victory for hourly employees at the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday morning.

Workers from the Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Storm Lake were awarded $2.9 million in a 2011 class action lawsuit, in which they alleged Tyson underpaid them for the time it takes to put on and take off protective clothing required to do their jobs.

Bryan McDonald/flickr

More than a year later than required by state law, negotiators in the Iowa House and Senate have agreed to a two-point-two-five percent increase in basic state aid for K-12 schools next year.  

Democrats say that’s the “best they can do” with a divided legislature.  The compromise is about 80 million dollars less than the 4 percent increase Democrats approved, but Republicans say schools will receive 87 percent of all new state revenue next year.   

Tom Narak with the School Administrators of Iowa calls the compromise obviously inadequate.

Del Ramey / Flickr

Lots of animals nest, and spring is the height of nesting season.

"It is a natural behavior that crosses all continents around the world, and something that really, everybody does in some way, including humans," says wildlife biologist Jim Pease. 

Brave Lux Photography

The women behind the new podcast “Quilt Your Heart Out” describe the show as Car Talk for quilters. On this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks quilting and podcasting with Marianne and Mary Fons, best known as the hosts of the PBS television show "Love of Quilting."  

VanHouten Photography

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast features the Des Moines Symphony’s “Gerard Schwarz conducts Brahms” concert. It features music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Johannes Brahms.

Photo Courtesy of Rita Dvorak

In 2015, Iowa had a record number of beach closures due to blue green algae blooms. That, in addition to a lawsuit filed against three northwestern Iowa counties, is bringing increased attention to water quality in the state.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

About 50 people rallied outside the Federal Building in Des Moines Monday afternoon, calling on U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to hold hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. 

The event was part of a nationwide call for senators to move ahead with hearings for President Obama's nominee to the high court.

It was organized by some three dozen groups, such as MoveOn.org, and included representatives from Iowa’s environmental and faith communities.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

North Carolina-based Prestage Farms has announced plans to build a 10,000 head-capacity hog processing plant in Mason City. The company's estimated investment would be $240 million.

Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa poultry producers are on the alert for a possible reoccurrence of the deadly avian flu which decimated flocks last year.  

The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is taking steps to more efficiently euthanize birds if the disease strikes again.    

The agency helped coordinate the statewide response last year.   That included hauling water to affected areas to create the foam to kill birds, and coordinating hazardous materials teams for cleanup. 

Flickr / Elaine Vigneault

Two mental health workers from Ankeny have been in Louisiana since Thursday, helping people affected by severe flooding in the region. Carolyn Newkirk and her husband Richard are among the hundreds of American Red Cross volunteers who have been deployed to the southern U.S..

The flooding has forced thousands to evacuate. Newkirk says some people won’t be able to return home. 

John Pemble / IPR

 

There are more deadlines this week that will force bills forward or fall flat. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talked with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell and has these takeaways.

Julie Englander/IPR

If you find an injured raptor in eastern Iowa, there’s a place to take it. Two people have established a new raptor rehabilitation center because they felt there was a lack of medical resources for injured birds in the area.

Flickr / PROWindRanch

Monday marks the start of Severe Weather Awareness Week. And on Wednesday the National Weather Service will hold a statewide tornado drill between 10 and 11 am, provided there is no actual severe weather taking place.

John Pemble / IPR

If Republicans don't hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Democrats believe the issue could help them win the Senate this November.

One test case for this proposition is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees Supreme Court nominations.

At 82 years old, Grassley has coasted safely to re-election for decades and is seeking his seventh Senate term this fall.

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