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. 

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Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

A female eastern black rhino in Des Moines is expecting her first calf. 

Six-year-old Ayana at the Blank Park Zoo will likely give birth in late October or early November. Black rhinos are usually grey in color and have a prehensile front lip which they use to grab twigs and leaves. 

Blank Park’s Ryan Bickel says the zoo is very excited, since black rhinos are critically endangered and hunted in the wild for their horns.

Gov. Terry Branstad says he was encouraged by the unity and commitment he observed last Thursday night at the Lincoln Day Dinner, an annual fundraiser for the Iowa GOP.

Many Republican voters, both statewide and nationally, are struggling with whether to support Donald Trump, the party’s de facto nominee.  Though Branstad doesn’t support everything Trump stands for, he is endorsing the New York real estate mogul, citing national security, health insurance costs and debt.

WIKICOMMONS / Iowahwyman

The Polk County community stands to lose millions in taxes, revenue sharing, and charitable donations now that IRS wants to pull the tax exempt status of a Des Moines-area casino. 

Between Polk County’s lease and revenue sharing agreements with Prairie Meadows, the hotel, casino, and racetrack contributes roughly $26 million annually the county.

New reforms to Iowa sentencing code in the areas of child endangerment, non-violent drug offense, and robbery were signed into law on Thursday. Gov. Terry Branstad calls the legislation "a balanced approach" aimed at making Iowa’s criminal justice system more equitable.

Child Endangerment

People convicted of child endangerment resulting in death in Iowa now must serve 30 to 70 percent of their sentence before they can be paroled. Though the crime has the sentence of 50 years, offenders have been immediately eligible for parole.

Flickr / Andrew Higgins

A new law signed Wednesday allows Iowa to finance a statewide communication system of high tech radios for first responders.

Commissioner Roxann Ryan of the Iowa Department of Public Safety says Iowa is currently one of only a handful of states without an interoperable communication system. First responders elsewhere in the country have found the high tech radios especially helpful during natural disasters, when cell phones towers are damaged or networks are overloaded.

Iowa Public Radio / Amy Mayer

Sen. Chuck Grassley says the Republican Party has time to unite behind real estate mogul Donald Trump, the apparent GOP presidential nominee, before the November Election. That's in spite of the fact that several prominent Republicans have withheld their endorsements.

CLAY MASTERS / IPR

Gov. Terry Branstad says he’ll support the nominee of his party in the presidential race this November. He adds that he'll be the very first to admit that he underestimated real-estate mogul Donald Trump, the apparent Republican nominee.

"This summer, when he came to the Iowa State Fair, flew his helicopter around and all of this stuff. I thought, 'This is not going to last,'" says Branstad. "Well I was wrong, as have been most of the pundits and political people."

Flickr / Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures

Iowa now has statewide regulations for ride-sourcing companies like Uber and Lyft.  Gov. Terry Branstad signed legislation into law on Monday, requiring ride-sourcing companies in Iowa to conduct driver background checks.

Drivers must also have a $1 million insurance policy and may only provide pre-arranged rides, meaning they are prohibited from being hailed like a traditional taxicab.

The new law stops cities from implementing tougher local regulations, and trumps ordinances created in Des Moines and Iowa City, where Uber currently operates. 

Flickr / Mike Lewis

Iowa tenants scored a victory at the state Supreme Court today. As a result, landlords have less power to withhold security deposits, or shift repair costs onto tenants.

The court ruled that landlords cannot charge automatic fees. And they must pay for all repairs, as long damages aren’t caused by tenants.

The case arose in 2011 after a University of Iowa student sued the Iowa City rental agency Apartments Downtown in small claims court.

The jury has returned across-the-board guilty verdicts in the federal conspiracy trial of three senior staffers from former Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Campaign Director John Tate, Campaign Chair Jesse Benton, and Campaign Deputy Director Dimitri Kesari all could serve decades in prison for charges related to disguising payments to an Iowa state senator in exchange for his endorsement of Ron Paul. Upon hearing the verdict, Benton's wife Valori, who is Paul's granddaughter, began to audibly cry.

The jury deliberations began Wednesday afternoon in the federal conspiracy trial of three senior staffers from Ron Paul's 2012 Presidential Campaign. 

Campaign Director John Tate, Campaign Chair Jesse Benton and Campaign Deputy Director Demitri Kesari are accused disguising payments to former state senator Kent Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement.  

IOWA PUBLIC RADIO / SARAH BODEN

The defense rested early Tuesday afternoon in the federal trial of three senior staffers from Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential Campaign. The jury will hear closing arguments beginning Wednesday morning.

Judge John Jarvey warned jurors that closing arguments would take a full day because this trial is as he put it, “more complicated than a typical” criminal case. The three former Ron Paul staffers are accused of conspiracy by allegedly using a third party to disguise payments to a former state senator in exchange for his endorsement.

WIKICOMMONS / GAGE SKIDMORE

Kent Sorenson completed his testimony on behalf of the prosecution Monday in the trial of three staffers from former Congressman Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. The staffers are accused of using a third party to disguise payments to Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement of Paul.

FLICKR / 401(K) 2012

If you still haven’t completed your 2015 state income taxes, today is the filing deadline. If you're late filing, be prepared to pay a penalty of an extra ten-percent on top of whatever you owe.

"I will say that typically there is a very slight grace period," says Victoria Daniels of the Iowa Department of Revenue, "but I encourage people strongly to get their returns in and file them electronically and make their payments no later than 11:59 pm."

Gage Skidmore

Ron Paul testified today in the federal trial of three former staffers from his 2012 presidential campaign. The trio is accused of using a third party to disguise payments made to former Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement of Paul.   

Though at times he had trouble hearing, the former Texas congressman appeared at ease on the stand, making several quips which got smiles and occasional laughs from the jury. A joke about former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was  particularly well received.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

The conspiracy trial of three senior staffers from Ron Paul's 2012 Presidential Campaign had its first full day of testimony on Wednesday.  Campaign Chair Jesse Benton, Campaign Manager John Tate, and Deputy Campaign Manager Demitiri Kesari are accused of using a third party to disguise payments made to former Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement of Ron Paul.

IOWA PUBLIC RADIO / SARAH BODEN

Three senior staffers from Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign will stand trial at the federal district court in Des Moines Tuesday. The charges stem from $73,000 in alleged under-the-table payments to former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson for his endorsement of Paul.

This is the second trial for the trio.

Flickr / David Morris55Laney69

Eight percent of Iowa children have had at least one parent incarcerated, according to a new study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. That statistic works out to roughly 58,000 kids. 

Mike Crawford analyzes child welfare data for Des Moines-based Child and Family Policy Center. He says research shows the impact of parental incarceration can be just as significant as abuse or domestic violence.

To mitigate negative effects, Crawford says communities should support family stability. 

Flickr / Michael Coghlan

In February, only 61 percent of those who took the Iowa State Bar Examination passed.  That's the lowest pass rate in more than a decade.

Taking the bar is required of all who wish to practice law in Iowa. February's 69 test takers came from more than two dozen law schools. 

Drake Law School Dean Ben Ullem says to better prepare its students for the bar exam, the school has altered the structure of courses.

Flickr / David Morris

New data from the Iowa DNR shows that drier than normal conditions so far this year have actually been ideal for the state.

Heavy rainfall during the autumn raised concerns that Iowa would experience flooding after the snow melted this spring. But the dryness has normalized hydrological conditions so now stream flow, soil moisture, and water supply are all in normal range. 

Iowa Department of Human Services officials say Iowa’s Medicaid system has transitioned into private management with no major systematic problems. But members of the Senate Human Resources Committee say they’re hearing about serious issues from their constituents.

Senate Democrat Bill Dotzler of Waterloo says these problems stem from a lack of consistency among the companies now managing Medicaid. 

"You're not hearing what we're hearing, it's not all roses," says Dotzler. "It is systemic and it's across our districts from senator to senator." 

An Iowa historian is running as an independent to unseat six-term incumbent U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley.

Michael Luick-Thrams of Mason City says both major political parties are too married to ideology and can’t do what’s best for the country. 

"We have to have real people with real problems within the halls of government. Be that farmers, or teachers, or labor unionists, or actors, or whoever it needs to be. But someone who’s not there to have a career in politics," says Luick-Thrams.

WIKICOMMONS / Ser Amantio di Nicolao

An Iowa woman who lost her daughter in a car crash allegedly caused by an undocumented Honduran immigrant testified before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Michelle Root says her daughter Sarah was killed on the day she graduated college by Edwin Mejia, who was drag racing while intoxicated.

Root says due to the Obama administration’s immigration policies, Mejia was able to post bail and then possibly fled the country after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency declined to detain him.

Flickr / 401(K) 2012

Though Monday is the deadline to file federal income tax returns, Iowans still have another two weeks before they must hand over their state income taxes. 

The Iowa Department of Revenue advises Iowans to file electronically, and depending on your income and veteran status there is software people can use for free.

"If you are going to get a refund, you will get it much quicker," says IDR spokeswoman Victoria Daniels. "A lot of the software programs, they actually do the calculations for you, and so you are less likely to have mistakes."

WIKICOMMONS / Uyvsdi

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska will likely vote later this summer on changes to its membership policy. The tribe has a reservation that straddles the Iowa-Nebraska border.

Currently to enroll, someone must be at least a quarter Native American, and have somewhere in their ancestry a Winnebago relative. The proposed change would require all new members be at least one-eighth Winnebago and one-eighth of any other tribe.

Photo by John Pemble

A piece of Iowa's past swallowed up a big portion of a front yard in Des Moines early Wednesday morning. A large sinkhole that’s estimated to be more than 30 feet deep, and roughly 20 feet across collapsed a yard on the city's south side. 

State officials say the sinkhole likely formed due to the abandoned coal mines under the city.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland had their much anticipated breakfast meeting Tuesday morning in the Senate Dining Room. The Iowa Republican describes the conversation as “very pleasant," though he still won’t hold confirmation hearings for Garland.

IMAGENS EVANGELICAS

Law enforcement and groups that fight human trafficking in Iowa can now better coordinate their efforts to combat the enslavement of people for the purposes of forced labor or sex work.  Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill Thursday to establish an anti-human trafficking office within the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Social Security Administration

Iowa now is one of seven states, plus the District of Columbia, where people can replace a lost Social Security card online.

Social Security Administration spokesman B. J. Jarrett says in order to serve the public, the SSA needs to take advantage of emerging technologies.

"We want to be able to provide services and provide benefits to folks the way they want to receive them," says Jarrett. "A lot of folks, and not just young people, but a lot of middle aged and older folks, are online now. So we want to meet them where they're at." 

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill Wednesday that allows families, friends and first responders in Iowa to administer an emergency medication that counteracts the effects of an opiod overdose.

People who die from opioid overdoses often do so because the drug causes them to stop breathing, or their hearts to stop pumping. But the medication Naloxone can prevent death by counteracting the depression of the central nervous and repertory systems by ejecting opioid from receptors in the brain.

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