Sarah Boden

Reporter

Sarah Boden is a Des Moines-based reporter for Iowa Public Radio. Before coming to Iowa, she was a freelance reporter and radio producer in the Twin Cities. In addition to IPR, Sarah's work has appeared on NPR, WBUR's "Here and Now" and Harvest Public Media.

Sarah's favorite public radio program is On The Media. 

Ways to Connect

WIKICOMMONS / BrokenSphere

The recidivism rate for ex-offenders is significantly lower when they find employment after they leave prison. But getting hired can be difficult for people with criminal records.

This week, Iowa employers can attend free seminars to learn more about the benefits of hiring people with criminal records. The federally-sponsored program is titled “Iowa’s Untapped Workforce, a Roadmap for Second Chance Hiring.”

Flickr / Jimmy Emerson, DVM

The Iowa College Student Aid Commission says more than $700,000 in grants will be awarded to 16 healthcare professionals who work in rural Iowa. The grants will be matched by the communities where the recipients are employed.

Danielle Weber is a physical therapist who lives and works in Jefferson, the seat of Greene County. With more than $80,000 in debt she says the grant is like winning the lottery.

She explains that while her tuition at Des Moines University was “not cheap,” salaries in rural communities tend to skew lower.

Flickr / photolibrarian

Gov. Terry Branstad has issued a disaster proclamation for Benton, Humboldt and Wright counties.

The three counties requested the aid after recent severe weather, saying the demands of the disaster response exceeded local resources.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

A new billboard with the message “Meat Kills, Go Vegan” will appear on Highway 17 in Wright County. The roadside message, which also lists health risks correlated with meat consumption, comes from an animal rights organization that aims to prevent the construction of a pork processing plant.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, wants to stop Prestage Farms from constructing a proposed plant, which the company says will create 900 fulltime jobs. The meat processor is considering Wright County, after a failed attempt to build a facility in Mason City. 

Flickr / Jason Mrachina

U.S. Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack will be at the National Governors Association's summer meeting in Des Moines Saturday to discuss the value of local foods to rural economies.

Vilsack says in order to repopulate rural communities, smaller farming operations need consumers that don't put a premium on size and speed. One strategy to carve out markets for these smaller producers is through food hubs.

John Pemble/IPR file

Judges and justices often make unpopular decisions, and these decisions may come back to haunt them come election season.

For Supreme Court justices in Iowa, that’s every eight years. And this November, Chief Justice Mark Cady, along with Justices Daryl Hecht and Brent Appel will be on the ballot.

Voters will not be asked to choose between the current justices and a challenger; rather with a retention election, voters are simply asked if each justice should keep his or her job.

But, many dislike Iowa’s judicial retention system.

Flickr / michellewithoneell

The ninth annual 80/35 musical festival starts today in Des Moines. The two-day event in Western Gateway Park features nearly 40 local and national acts.

80/35 project manager Amedeo Rossi of the Des Moines Music Coalition handles much of the booking. 

Rossi says he likes bringing interesting musicians to Des Moines, who have yet to tour in central Iowa.

IOLTA / Office of Professional Regulation, Iowa Judicial Branch

Nearly $240,000 in grants will be given to 14 Iowa legal non-profits that assist low-income people. This funding comes from the state's Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account program, which has suffered extreme decreases over the past decade.

So while this year's grants total $28,000 more than what was distributed in 2015-16, the funding is still less than what some legal service organizations say they need. 

AUSTIN KIRK/FLICKR

The three-month prison sentences for two egg-industry executives has been upheld by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Last year, Jack DeCoster and his son Peter both pleaded guilty to negligence in relation to insanitary conditions at Quality Egg's Iowa-based  facilities. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as a result of these conditions, a salmonella outbreak sickened perhaps as many as 56,000 people.

WIKICOMMONS / Lanfear's Bane

Sen. Chuck Grassley has sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urging the agency to keep a policy in place that requires private Medicare insurers to cover all antidepressant medications and all immuno-suppressant drugs used for transplant patients.

CMS is considering changing this rule. In a report last month, the agency reasons that medications in these categories include a number of generic options. 

But Grassley doesn’t agree.

Jon Pemble/IPR file

Iowa’s senior U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says his senate colleague Joni Ernst would bring a lot to the GOP ticket as Donald Trump’s running mate.

Ernst met with Trump in New Jersey on Monday, and afterwards said she and Trump had, "a good conversation."

Ernst is reportedly being considered for the number two spot on the GOP ticket.

Grassley says Ernst’s military and legislative experience, and her expertise as someone from a rural, agricultural state would be assets to the New York real estate mogul. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Twenty-eight immigrants will become naturalized U.S. citizens at the July 4th Iowa Cubs game in Des Moines. 

Iowa's newest U.S. citizens will line up along Principal Park's third-base line and take the Oath of Allegiance

They'll promise to support and defend the constitution, and also renounce loyalty to any foreign government. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

This story updates a report from earlier this morning.

Iowans with felony convictions will continue to be permanently banned from the voting booth, after today’s 4-3 ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court.

As a result, Iowa maintains its status as one of three states with lifetime voting bans for felons.

Flickr / Jeff Gitchel

The much anticipated ruling on felon voting from the Iowa Supreme Court will be released Thursday morning.

Iowa has one of the most restrictive felon voting policies in the nation.

It is one of three states that permanently disenfranchises someone if they commit a felony. 

That’s because Iowa’s constitution states anyone convicted of an infamous crime forever loses the right to vote. So what’s an infamous crime? The Iowa Supreme Court will likely tell us.  

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says Vermont's GMO-labeling law will almost certainly go into effect before the senate can vote on a nationwide bill. 

Starting Friday, all products sold in Vermont must have labels disclosing which ingredients are genetically modified. 

Because many products are sold nationwide, this state law is becoming the de facto national standard. 

The food and agriculture industries want a national law overriding Vermont’s legislation. But Grassley, an opponent of the Vermont law, says it’s unlikely the senate will vote on a bill until this fall.

Brian Gibbs

A young black bear was struck by a glass-delivery truck and killed on Friday evening in far northeast Iowa.

The incident occurred on Highway 76, near the Yellow River Forest in Allamakee County.

"It's a heavily-wooded area," says Kevin Baskins of the Iowa DOT. "You obviously have the Mississippi River bordering it on the east side, and so there's a lot of pretty decent habitat for bears if they do wander into that neck of the woods."

Michael Leland/IPR

A group of canoes and kayaks will travel down the Des Moines River on Saturday in protest of the Bakken Pipeline. 

Organizer Angie Carter expects at least 40 people to show up for the flotilla.

She describes the aquatic protest as a family-friendly way to encourage the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the pipeline permission to begin construction and issue an environmental impact statement.

The Iowa Supreme Court was unable to decide Friday when someone is entitled to counsel, though a drunk driver's conviction stands. A three-three-one ruling from the high court leaves the door open for future constitutional challenges. 

In September 2014, 29-year-old John A. Senn was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Des Moines on Court Avenue. Senn was taken to the Des Moines police station where he refused to take a breathalyzer test until he spoke with his attorney.

A New Jersey man and his companies have agreed to pay $45,000 to the state of Iowa in the settlement of an alleged psychic mail scam.

Timothy Clements owns both TCA Mailing Inc. and T. Clements & Associates Inc. The state of Iowa suspects these companies marketed to and billed at least one Iowan in a psychic services scam.

Jon Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa's senior U.S. senator says his proposed gun-control amendment failed to reach the 60-vote mark Monday because of disagreements over the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

"Don't forget (the Second Amendment) is just as important as the fundamental rights of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment," says Sen. Chuck Grassley. "You can't compromise people's constitutional rights." 

Iowa’s public safety commissioner is urging Iowans to contact law enforcement if they see something suspicious in light of the recent mass shooting in Orlando.

"When people are committing serious offense, they don't usually do it on the spur of the moment," says Commissioner Roxann Ryan. "They usually are making preparatory plans, they are conducting surveillance, they are collecting weaponry, they are practicing, doing trial runs, they are identifying victims or vulnerabilities."  

John Pemple/IPR file photo

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he doesn’t see any reason to increase gun control measures, following this weekend’s mass shooting in Florida.

Deceased shooter Omar Mateen used guns to kill 49 people and wound 53 others at an Orlando nightclub.

Grassley says that’s no reason to increase firearm regulations. Rather he thinks the focus should center on what he calls “radical Islamists.”

FLICKR / TOBIAS LEEGER

A new statewide council wants to find ways to prevent Iowa kids from missing too much school.

The Chronic Absenteeism Advisory Council is made up of 30 members from the Branstad Administration, the legislature, Iowa schools, and non-profits.

Jean Kresse of United Ways of Iowa will sit on the council. She says this is an issue for many children, especially from low-income families.

Rob Dillard/IPR

Former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge is the Democrats’ choice to take on U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley in the general election in November. It was one of several primaries that will help decide who will represent Iowa in Washington next year.

At her campaign headquarters in Des Moines last night, Judge made it clear to supporters what her campaign strategy would be. Iowans can expect to see plenty of campaign signs between now and November that are a play on Patty Judge’s last name.

An Iowa father testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning  in favor of curbing synthetic drug use. 

Mike Rozga of Indianola says his son David died by suicide after a suffering severe hallucinations in reaction to synthetic marijuana.

He says law enforcement and prosecutors don’t have the tools they need for combating synthetic drugs, which are often sold commercially.

Dakota Access can soon begin construction on a crude oil pipeline that will cut through 18 Iowa counties.

In a two-to-one vote, Iowa Utilities Board gave the OK to start construction.

That's despite the fact Dakota Access is waiting for project approval from the Army Corps of Engineers on 65 sites along the Iowa route.

Flickr / frankieleon

Iowans should not be concerned about local transmission of the Zika virus.

Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Ann Garvey said Monday morning there is no indication that the types of mosquitoes spreading Zika are established in Iowa.

"Again, the real risk of Zika virus to Iowans is when they travel to those areas of when there is ongoing transmission," says Garvey. "Again, those areas are the Caribbean, Mexico, South and Central American. To date there's been no locally transmitted Zika virus anywhere in the continental U.S."

Flickr / JohnPaulRichards

Gov. Terry Branstad says a proclamation he signed that encourages Iowans to participate in a Bible reading marathon and to read the Bible on a daily basis, “Until the Lord comes,” is not an affront to religious liberty.

The ACLU of Iowa says it’s concerned that the proclamation endorses a particular religion.  The organization says it never announces an intention to file a lawsuit, but it is reviewing options in this case.

But Branstad says he’s "astounded" people are upset since he’s not forcing anyone to read the Bible or pray.

Flickr / leah

Iowans voting absentee in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries have the option of hand-delivering their ballots on Saturday.  Sec. of State Paul Pate says the auditor’s offices in all 99 counties will be open for eight hours.

"Absentee ballots seem to be a trend where people are using it at high and higher volumes," says Pate. "And when you start mailing it on a Saturday or Sunday, there's a good chance we may not receive it in time, so we want to make sure we get their vote counted." 

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

A person in Iowa can’t be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if they lose their job because they’re in jail. That's according to a four-to-three decision from the state's supreme court.

In late 2013 medical assistant Sondra Irving of North Liberty spent nearly four weeks in jail, unable to post a bail of $17,500.

The charges were later dropped, but because Irving had been incarcerated for so long, she’d lost her job at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

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