Sarah Boden

Sarah Boden served as a Des Moines-based reporter for Iowa Public Radio. Before coming to Iowa, she was a freelance reporter and producer in Minnesota.

In addition to IPR, Sarah's work has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend All Things Considered and WBUR's Here and Now.

Her reporting has won multiple awards, including a regional Edward R. Murrow for her story on a legal challenge to Iowa's felon voting ban.

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Flickr / Mark Goebel

Sioux City may cut back the number of days people can set off fireworks within the city limits. Iowa legalized the use of fireworks this past legislative session, but some city leaders say people have taken it too far.

The current ordinance allows fireworks in Sioux City on private property from 1:00-10:00 p.m. from June 25 through July 3. On July 4, people can set off fireworks until 11 pm.

Flickr / William Patrick Butler

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he probably won’t support an amendment by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill.  Cruz proposes allowing insurance companies to sell two types of healthcare policies, one that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act and one that is not.

Grassley says he’s concerned how Cruz's amendment might affect people with pre-existing conditions. 

Flickr / Raymond Clack

A cut in state funding may cause a nonprofit to end its program of training lay people on how to screen children's vision.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is eliminating $96,000 in annual funding to Prevent Blindness Iowa. In a letter to the organization, IDPH's Bureau Chief of Family Health Marcus Johnson-Miller writes this move is the result of a budget shortfall and is "in no way an indication of poor performance or lack of contract compliance."

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Four of Iowa’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics are ending operations today. This is a result of state Republican lawmakers successfully blocking federal funding to medical providers that perform abortions.

No public dollars are used to pay for abortions in Iowa. The funding went to health care services like IUD insertions and cancer screenings. But anti-abortion legislators say any public funding to Planned Parenthood indirectly supports abortion.

LOUIS / FLICKR

The American Red Cross has dispatched volunteers and resources to areas that were damaged by severe storms, including the Linn County town of Prairieburg which was struck by a tornado.

Leslie Schaffer is the CEO of the American Red Cross of Central Iowa chapter.  She says right now her organization is making sure that the people affected by the storm have their immediate needs met.

FLICKR / LEONIEKE AALDERS

Due to a statewide hiring freeze Iowa’s Judicial Branch has the fewest employees since the state court system unified in 1987, with more than 150 vacant positions. 

A press release states the Iowa Legislature appropriated to the Judicial Branch an operating budget of $175.7 million for fiscal year 2018. This is the same amount as 2017, after a mid-year deappropriation, but "more than $3 million short of the legislature's FY 16 appropriation," the release concluded.

Des Moines Catholic Worker

Four people have been arrested near the Des Moines airport. They were blocking a road in protest of the Iowa Air National Guard’s program in which drones are piloted remotely from the airport's military air base.

Jesse Horne, Spencer Kaaz, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya are each charged with two misdemeanors: interference with official acts and disorderly conduct.

Activist Alex Cohen, who attended the protest, says this action is part of an ongoing campaign to oppose the drone program.

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Sen. Chuck Grassley isn’t putting too much stock in the Congressional Budget Office's report on the Senate’s bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. 

The CBO says the legislation would result in 22 million more Americans uninsured by 2026. It would also decrease the number of Medicaid enrollees by 15 million. 

Grassley points out CBO scores have been incorrect in the past, such as when it underestimated the number of people who would be insured through Obamacare exchanges.  

WIKICOMMONS / Eric Roset

The current president of the African Development Bank has been named the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate. Akinwumi Adesina of Nigeria is the 46th person to receive the award, which has been called the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture. 

World Food Prize President Kenneth Quinn says Adesina’s work in African agriculture has expanded food production, thwarted corruption and increased the availability of credit to farmers.

Drake Law School

Longtime child protection and family law expert Jerry Foxhoven will become the new head of Iowa’s Department of Human Services.

In the past year, two high profile deaths of adopted Iowa teenaged girls have raised questions about DHS’s leadership and policies. Both girls, who were not related and adopted by different families, were extremely malnourished when they died. 

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Like many members of the U.S. Senate, Chuck Grassley hasn’t seen a draft of the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. 

A group of Republican senators has been working on the legislation in closed meetings, and details of the bill are secret. This clandestineness has been criticized as it does not allow stakeholders or even other Senators, like Grassley, to comment on and possibly shape the legislation. 

Flickr / jess2284

Iowa ranks fifth nationally in overall child wellbeing in this year’s Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book. But there's still room for improvement.

As a senior associate and fiscal director for the Des Moines-based Child and Family Policy Center, Mike Crawford works with the Casey Foundation on its annual report. He says that while Iowa compares very well to other states, when Iowa is compared to itself the picture is less optimistic.

Flickr / John Mitchell

Over the long summer break, students can lose weeks of learning from the previous school year. But there are ways to keep kids engaged with reading and writing. 

Iowa State University's Emily Hayden, an assistant professor of literacy education, says the key is to make these activities not feel like school. Instead, parents should think outside the box and capitalize on a child’s interests. 

For example, if your kid likes being outside, get them a "science" notebook.

Flickr / David Wilson

A Muscatine mother of four who was born in Mexico will not be deported for breaking a state law. Prosecuting Martha Martinez for identity theft would have jeopardized her legal residency through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Martinez came to Iowa from Mexico when she was 11 years old.  As a young adult she used a false identity to gain employment.

Flickr / Superb Colours

This is the first year fireworks can be sold in Iowa. So far there are 12 licensed retailers, though that number may grow to nearly 1,000. 

Retailers hypothetically were able to start selling bottle rockets, ground spinners and roman candles on June 1st. But since the bill was signed into law only last month, State Fire Marshal Jeff Quigle says it’s taken his office a bit of time to figure out the licensing process, which usually could take more than six months to create.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Vice President Mike Pence arrived by motorcycle to the third annual Roast and Ride in Iowa. Sen. Joni Ernst’s yearly fundraiser is a 49-mile motorcycle ride, followed by a barbecue meal and political speeches. 

While speaking to a friendly crowd, Pence didn't address any of the recent controversies surrounding the investigation into Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election. Instead, he boasted of the administration’s accomplishments. 

grassley
Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Sen. Chuck Grassley held his second town hall this week at the Adair County Courthouse in Greenfield. Many attendees were unhappy when Iowa's senior senator wouldn't take a definitive position on issues surrounding Republican lawmakers' goal of repealing Obamacare.

Attendees asked Grassley if he would vote against a bill that would adversely affect people with pre-existing conditions, end essential health benefits, or increase the number of uninsured Americans. Grassley was also asked if he believed access to healthcare was a right.

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

In the basement of the State Historical Museum of Iowa there’s a box of hairless, 18-inch porcelain dolls. They each bear a passing likeness to Mrs. Billie Ray, the wife of Robert Ray, Iowa’s 38th governor.

“It looks like we have Billie Rays at least to last for another, just counting, so we got six, seven Billie Ray figures still that can be dressed as first ladies,” explains Leo Landis, Iowa’s state historian. 

Angel Jepsen

Due to declining enrollment, Wednesday is the final day of classes in the 56-year history of the Charter Oak-Ute High School. In September, most COU 9th through 12th graders will be attending classes in the neighboring district of Maple Valley-Anthon Oto. 

The change is not a consolidation, but rather a sharing agreement between the two far western Iowa districts.

USDA

In her address after being sworn in Wednesday, Governor Kim Reynolds highlighted the importance of high-speed internet being available in all parts of the state, regardless of a community's size and location. 

"A connected community means better jobs, safer communities, better education and a better quality of life," said the governor. "And it really is the expectation of our young people." 

A significant amount of money is likely needed to make this goal a reality in rural parts of the state.

Jon Pemble/IPR file

In a unanimous ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court says sentencing a juvenile to lifetime parole is not a cruel and unusual punishment.

When he was a 17-year-old, Bradley Graham committed statutory rape by having sex with a 13-year-old. In addition to incarceration, Graham was given a lifetime sentence of parole.

Graham says the lifetime aspect of his punishment is cruel and unusual, because he was a juvenile when he committed the crime.

Flickr / Carl Wycoff

The city of Des Moines is hoping a new, nearly $50,000 pot of money will convince reluctant witnesses to help police with unsolved homicides. 

In the past two years a dozen of homicides remain unsolved, and this year the city is seeing a sharp increase in these crimes. Des Moines has recorded 15 homicides this year, and  is on track to surpass 1978’s record of 27. 

The cash comes from local businesses like Prairie Meadows Casino and Hotel, as well as the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Polk County Board of Supervisors.

Flickr / Steve

A new study from Iowa State University finds that people who are the victims of workplace bullying often receive unhelpful advice about how to deal with the harassment.

ISU communication studies researcher Stacy Tye-Williams found the most frequent piece of advice victims receive from family and friends is to quit their jobs, which is financially impractical. People were also often counseled to ignore or to stand up to the bully. 

Iowa’s Planned Parenthood affiliate is closing four clinics. It says this move is the result of a new state law that prevents organizations that provide abortions from receiving family planning money from Medicaid.

The Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City clinics will close on June 30. The Quad Cities facility in Bettendorf will remain open until the building is sold, though only telemed abortion services will be provided. All other types of appointments will cease at the end of June.

Flickr / wabisabi2015

Every school day at 7:30 am, fifth-grader Ava Perrett catches the first of two bright yellow buses that drive her to the Greene County Intermediate School in Grand Junction.

Due to a 2014 consolidation, the Greene County Community School District is the state’s eighth largest in geographic size. It spans 388 square miles. So it’s a good thing Ava says she usually doesn’t mind riding the bus.

“But sometimes it takes a while,” she says. “When we’re switching buses it gets really cold out when we’re waiting for the buses.”

Former FBI Director James Comey's offical FBI portrait.
Federal Bureau of Investigation

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says he hasn’t decided if he’ll invite former FBI Director James Comey to testify before the senate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley heads.

News reports say the former FBI director is interested in testifying before Congress, where questions about his sudden and controversial firing will likely be asked.

Flickr / bloomsberries

A 49-year-old woman from northwest Iowa has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for a fraud in which she sold non-existent tickets and accommodations to the Super Bowl and other sports events.

Ranae Van Roekel of Hull plead guilty last summer to one count of mail fraud and another count of filing a false tax return in relation to the scheme.

According to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Sioux City, while Van Roekel was awaiting sentencing she engaged in another scheme to sell non-existent gift bags.

Flickr / Ted Eytan

A record 136 Iowans were diagnosed with HIV in 2016. The Iowa Department of Public Health says this is probably not due to an increased rate in transmissions, but rather likely an outcome of additional funding and social media efforts to encourage Iowans to get tested.

The department admits it doesn’t know how many Iowans were tested for HIV last year. But data shows a larger percentage of people diagnosed were in an early stage of the disease, meaning more HIV-positive individuals aren’t waiting until they became sick to find out if they’ve contracted the virus.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

The Iowa Supreme Court has extended a temporary injunction that suspends part of a new law that mandates a three-day waiting period before an abortion.  

When Planned Parenthood and the ACLU first asked for the injunction last week, they argued that the Iowa Department of Public Health had not yet developed certain materials which the new law mandates women be provided before having an abortion. The information includes content on adoption and risk factors associated with abortion.

JOHN PEMBLE/IPR FILE

The Iowa Supreme Court has issued a temporary injunction that immediately blocks a provision of a newly signed law that mandates a three-day waiting period between two appointments before having an abortion.

After a lower court denied a request for an injunction on Thursday afternoon, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the ACLU of Iowa successfully appealed to the state's high court. The injunction was granted Friday morning, a couple hours after Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill into law.

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