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

John Pemble /IPR file photo

As many as 10,000 are expected to attend the Iowa Women’s March on Saturday. The Des Moines demonstration is one of dozens taking place across the country, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. 

"The whole point of this is to bring people together of all genders and backgrounds, so we can stand together in social justice and human rights issues that deeply impact all of us," says Sandy Mostaert, the state representative for the Iowa Chapter of the Women’s March. "Women’s rights are human rights."

Flickr / ~W~

Iowa lawmakers are considering tougher regulations to keep drivers from texting. Right now, a texting driver can only be ticketed if they’re stopped for another offense, but a bill that passed out of a Senate subcommittee this afternoon would allow law enforcement to pull someone over for texting.

Since it’s hard to prove whether someone is texting or using their phone for another purpose, lawmakers say they’ll also consider “hands-free” legislation which would make it illegal to even hold a phone while driving.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

A bill passed out of subcommittee late this afternoon allows a woman to sue her physician for the emotional distress that results from an abortion. Currently a only handful of states, including Nebraska and Wisconsin, have similar laws. 

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Republican-controlled Iowa statehouse aims to limit abortion access by cutting off public funding to Iowa’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a reported 26,000 patients.

Lawmakers say they’ll fund sexual and reproductive healthcare services provided by organizations other than Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. But the healthcare organization said in a conference call this morning this will create a vacuum for critical services.

John Pemble / IPR

As the first week of Iowa's 2017 legislative session comes to a close, River to River host Ben Kieffer checks in with Iowa Public Radio statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell to get an idea of what's on tap in the Iowa House and Senate.

Proposal to change confirmation process

JOHN PEMBLE/IPR

Iowa's chief justice is warning lawmakers that problems are already beginning to emerge due to a lack of funding to the state judicial branch. In his State of the Judiciary address this morning, Chief Justice Mark Cady told legislators to invest in critical judicial services, even in "a time of scarce financial resources."

John Pemble/IPR

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is signaling support for changes to the state’s collective bargaining laws, that some say would weaken them. In his Condition of the State address this morning, the governor took aim at public employee health plans.

“The cost of these benefits has grown dramatically because of our antiquated collective bargaining system that has led to over 500 healthcare plans,” says Branstad, "many of which are inefficient and way too costly for public employees and Iowa taxpayers."

Des Moines Public Schools

Iowa’s K-12 school year is only about half-way over, but many districts around the state have begun the process of hiring for the 2017-2018 academic year. Des Moines Public Schools, the state’s largest district, says it plans to hire more than 100 teachers based on anticipated retirements and resignations. 

More than 10 percent of the new hires will be special education teachers. These instructors are particularly difficult to find, due to the various certifications within this area of teaching.

FLICKR / PHIL ROEDER

Iowa’s secretary of state is proposing voter ID legislation that he says will ensure the integrity of the state's elections. The proposal requires a voter to show a passport, state-issued ID, driver’s license or military ID before casting a ballot. 

Though Sec. Paul Pate has yet to release a draft of the bill, he says any voters who do not have an ID will be issued a free voter identification card. Student IDs would not be accepted, but Pate says down the road that could change.

Flickr / Lindsey Broadhead

The USDA has allocated 115 thousand acres from the Conservation Reserve Program to Iowa, so farmers previously shut out of CRP can apply on a first-come first-served basis this month.

Contracts on some 2. 5 million acres nationwide are expiring this year, and the federal government is taking a more targeted approach to the program, which pays farmers to transfer environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production into conservation.

WIKICOMMONS / American007

Iowa City is considering whether to formally declare itself as a "sanctuary city." There’s no legal definition for the term, but it generally means a municipality has implemented policies limiting its cooperation with federal immigration authorities

The city council and staff will discuss adopting such policies, as well as the formal title, at 5:00 pm this afternoon during a work session.

Mayor Jim Throgmorton says he’s not in favor of Iowa City formally clearing itself a sanctuary city.

The entire uniformed division of the Des Moines Police Department will be equipped with body cameras next year. The more than 300 cameras are being purchased with the help of a grant from the Department of Justice, as well as community donations.

The DMPD says the cameras will aid with evidence gathering and help the community gain a better understanding of police work.

"The public will get a really raw inside look inside look at some of the things that we do and how we do things, and why we do things. Some of the things we have to put up with," says Sgt. Paul Parizek. 

Voters in parts of Scott County have until tomorrow to cast their ballot in the special election for state senate seat in District 45.  The seat in western Davenport and all of the city of Buffalo has been vacant since September, after the death of longtime Senator Joe Seng.

Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz acknowledges that while two days after Christmas isn't the most opportune time to head to the polls, she encourages people to still turn in a ballot.

"People have fought for us to have the right to vote," says Mortiz. "Don't become apathetic." 

FLICKR / WILLIAM PATRICK BUTLER

Opponents of the privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid system say recent revelations show the program should not be run by for-profit companies. A Des Moines Register report this week revealed the three companies in charge of Iowa Medicaid say they are facing dramatic losses.

When private companies took over Iowa’s Medicaid system in April, many wondered if they could make a profit. The companies claimed profits would come as a result of better management, but now they say underfunding is threatening the program’s stability and that state payments are insufficient.

Iowa Secretary of State's Office

Iowa’s longest-serving precinct election official has been honored for more than a half century of service. Mildred Davis was presented with the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award on Monday by Iowa Sec. of State Paul Pate for serving as a prescient election official for the past 56 years.

The 93-year-old from Sioux City says she’s worked national, state and local elections rarely missing an opportunity to serve.              

Five new industrial sites have been certified through the Iowa Certified Site Program, a program that its creators hope will bring economic growth to rural Iowa. These new sites, located in Forest City, Clinton, Grinnell, Waterloo and Osage, are now “project-ready” and claim to be "relatively risk-free” for new developments such as data centers or food manufacturers. 

"Economic development has become more and more competitive, and more and more sophisticated," says Gov. Terry Branstad. "Companies are not willing to wait, they want to be able to move quickly." 

JIMMY CENTERS / OFFICE OF GOVERNOR TERRY BRANSTAD

Some spending reductions are to be expected in the upcoming budget, according to Gov. Terry Branstad. Due to lower revenue estimates, Iowa will likely have to cut about $100 million.

Despite this challenge, Branstad says he won’t consider an across-the-board cut.

"Instead I’m going to work with the legislature and make recommendations," says Branstad at his weekly news conference today. "I want to protect K-12 school aid from reductions, and property tax credits, I don’t want to see those reduced."

FLICKR / JASON MRACHINA

The number of homicides in the City of Des Moines hit a two-decade high last year. But one year later, it appears 2015 is an anomaly and not the start of a trend.

Last year Des Moines saw 21 homicides and this year has had 13 so far, which Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department says it about average for a city the size of Des Moines. 

"When we look at numbers," says Parizek about 2015, "it seems to be just a weird situation."

Sarah Boden/IPR

A group of landowners whose property was seized through eminent domain for the purpose of the Dakota Access pipeline had their day in court on this morning. The landowners contend the Iowa Utilities Board focused too much on the economic benefits of a pipeline when it granted Dakota Access a construction permit and use of eminent domain.

Instead, they say, the focus should have been on the potential service a crude oil pipeline provides to Iowans, which they say is negligible. So the landowners posit the IUB lacked valid reasons grant the pipeline permit.

FLICKR / JENNIFER MORROW

All three of the for-profit healthcare companies that have been managing Iowa’s Medicaid system are falling short of a contract requirement intended to protect segments of the Medicaid population from having to travel out-of-county for services. 

FLICKR / JOE HALL

The Des Moines woman accused of voting twice for Donald Trump has entered a plea of not guilty."

In October, 55-year-old Terri Rote was charged with voting twice at separate early voting locations. She told Iowa Public Radio she voted twice because she was concerned her first vote for Trump would be changed to one for Hillary Clinton, and that “the polls are rigged.”

Court documents reveal little information behind Rote’s plea, besides that she requests a speedy trial, which is set for February 6.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

Wind turbines cover rural Iowa, offering corn and soybean farmers an additional source of income. But how do those giant spinning blades affect crops?

So far Agronomist Gene Takle of Iowa State University says his multiple studies haven’t found that turbines effect crop yield. But that doesn’t mean they don’t impact the conditions on a field.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Republicans in the Iowa House say one of their top priorities in the next legislative session is supplemental state aid for Iowa school districts. That’s according to Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, who met with reporters after her caucus discussed legislative priorities on Thursday.

Upmeyer says ideally, the amount of money Iowa schools will receive from the state will be set within the first 30 days of the 2017 legislative session.

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Cedar Rapids police officer who shot a black man during a traffic stop last month, leaving him paralyzed, will not be charged with a crime. Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden says a grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to indict Officer Lucas Jones in the shooting of Jerime Mitchell.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Protesters gathered at the offices of the Iowa Utilities Board on Monday to celebrate the Army Corps of Engineers stopping pipeline construction in North Dakota. Iowa’s Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition also delivered a letter to the state utilities board, urging it to revoke the pipeline’s Iowa permit. 

The Army Corps’s decision to not allow the pipeline to cross a reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is not a fatal blow to Dakota Access. The pipeline could be rerouted, and the Corps’s decision may be appealed.

Jessica Reznicek

An Iowa woman says she ended her two-week fast in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline last night. Jessica Reznicek had a bowl of chicken soup after the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement that puts completion of pipeline construction at an impasse.

The Army Corps has denied permission of pipeline construction for a section of the route in North Dakota. But it said the pipeline may be rerouted, so Reznicek is continuing her efforts to oppose Dakota Access, including a Wednesday sit-in at the utilities board.

Flickr / thenicole

All 902 plow trucks owned by the Iowa Department of Transportation now equipped with a new GPS system. It allows vehicles to gather all sorts of data, which the DOT will use for clearing Iowa’s roadways of snow and ice more efficiently. 

Craig Bargfrede heads DOT winter operations. This new system costs about $850,000, but Bargfrede says the upgrade will pay for itself in time and money savings. 

Emily Woodbury/IPR File

$34,113 a year. That's the average annual amount the I0wa Department of Corrections spends per inmate according to an audit of DOC institutions from 2011 to 2015. 

The audit also shows that the average annual cost per inmate rose by 15 percent since 2011, and during this same time period the total inmate population decreased by seven percent.

Steve Dick, financial manager for the DOC,  says when you have fewer prisoners the daily costs of running an institution are not as spread out. So expenses are divided by a smaller number of people. 

Flickr / Ryan J. Reilly

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, met with Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama this morning to discuss his nomination for U.S. Attorney General. Grassley’s committee will consider the appointment before the entire Senate votes.

In 1986, Sessions was rejected for a federal judgeship due to allegations of racially insensitive remarks, some of which he says were taken out of context, and others he denies. Grassley was on the Judiciary Committee at the time, and voted in favor of Sessions, though he says he couldn’t recall the hearing.

Today is the fifth annual Giving Tuesday. This day, which always follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, promotes charitable donations with a heavy emphasis on social media. 

Brianne Fitzgerald of Volunteer Iowa says nonprofits can leverage the impact of Giving Tuesday by encouraging people to post the reason they donated to the organization on social media.     

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