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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WIKICOMMONS / Klaus with K

Iowa’s NAACP chapter is asking state lawmakers to pass a number of significant criminal justice reforms this year. The organization says these reforms will improve the lives of African-Americans in Iowa who are arrested and incarcerated at disproportionately high rates.

Flickr / Pat Hawks

If you are one of many who dislike driving on Interstate-80, the Iowa Department of Transportation wants to know what you’d do to make it better through an online survey. The department is gearing up for some major updates to I-80 and is collecting opinion data on the interstate's traffic volume, safety, convenience, and quality.

One of the main options being considered is additional lanes.

FLICKR / GEOF WILSON

The Iowa Utilities Board is holding afternoon meetings this week on whether to grant a permit that allows the construction of a crude oil pipeline through Iowa. The proposed 1,134-mile Dakota Access pipeline would begin in North Dakota, travel through South Dakota and Iowa, and terminate in south-central Illinois.

Dakota Access’s parent company, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, needs permission from the Iowa Utilities Board so it can use eminent domain to gain access to land along the pipeline’s proposed route.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

A former staffer from Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign is asking he be tried separately from his codefendant on charges related to concealing information from the Federal Election Commission. Paul's campaign manager John Tate says testimony proving his innocence will not be heard if he’s tried with deputy campaign manager Dimitri Kesari.

A Webster City Hot Lotto winner says he was shortchanged $10 million in his cash prize, and is now suing for that sum plus interest. The lawsuit stems from the rigging of the Hot Lotto game back in December 2010, when Multi-State Lottery Association information security employee Eddie Tipton fraudulently programmed the game to spit out a specific set of numbers and then purchased a ticket with those numbers.

Hot Lotto is a “progressive jackpot" game. If there's no winner, the money is put in the next pot with at least an additional $50,000. 

Clay Masters/IPR

The Iowa Republican Party set a record for GOP caucus turnout last night, with nearly 186,000 participants. The party hopes this means good things for November since many of these caucus goers are new voters.

"We're looking at this data and we're saying, 'Wow, we have enthusiastic voters.' And if you can capture them and work with them, you know we have a really great shoot at turning Iowa red for the presidential election," says Charlie Szold of the Iowa GOP. 

Flickr / Katie Haugland

There’s either a blizzard, winter, or ice storm warning for most of Iowa making travel extremely hazardous. Parts of the state will get 6 to 12 twelve inches of snow.

"We have a big area of low pressure that moving threw the plains and the Midwest," says meteorologist Kelsey Engle at the National Weather Service’s Des Moines Office. "With temperatures cold enough, as well as well enough moisture, that is producing snow across Iowa."

Joyce Russell, Sarah Boden, Amy Mayer/IPR

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses for the Republican presidential nomination, while the Democratic race between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was considered neck-and-neck early this morning.

In a speech at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Cruz thanked Iowa Republicans while also referencing scripture, Reagan Democrats, and what he calls “courageous conservatives”.

Healthcare companies WellCare and Meridian are continuing their fights to manage a piece of Iowa’s $4.2 billion Medicaid system.

WellCare was one of four companies selected to privatize Medicaid. But its contract was terminated after Administrative Law Judge Christie Scase determined it had violated rules of the bid process. 

Wikipedia / Citizensharp

In addition to the 1,681 caucus precincts, some Iowa Democrats also have the option to attend either a "satellite caucus" or "tele-caucus" on Monday night. 

Andy McGuire, head of the Iowa Democratic Party, describes these new caucus options as "baby steps" towards a more inclusive process. 

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Many Iowa Republicans are still considering which candidate they'll caucus for on Monday. A Quinnipiac poll of likely GOP caucus participants from earlier this week has 39 percent saying they may change their minds.

Some of the undecided gathered in front of two large projectors on the second floor of the downtown Des Moines Marriott last night to watch the last GOP debate before the caucuses. Moderated by Fox News, the debate was held a half-mile away at the Iowa Events Center. 

FLICKR / WILLIAM PATRICK BUTLER

As Iowa gears up for transitioning its Medicaid system into private management by three for-profit companies, lawmakers are grappling with how many ombudsmen are needed to give recipients assistance and objective information.

A new poll suggests Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are in a statistical dead heat, with five days remaining before the Iowa Caucuses. 

Wednesday's Quinnipiac poll has the Vermont Senator favored by 49 percent of likely Democratic caucus participants surveyed, and the former Secretary of State favored by 45 percent. This four-point spread is within the margin of error. 

With less than a week before the Iowa Caucuses, it seems to be a two-man race in the GOP field. The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows a statical dead heat between real-estate mogul Donald Trump with 31-percent of likely Republican caucus-goers, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 29-percent. 

Flickr / Jennifer Morrow

With six weeks to go before Iowa’s Medicaid program is tentatively scheduled to become privately managed, Medicaid Director Mikki Stier says she's "very confident" Iowa will be ready. The federal government delayed the state's plans to privatize Medicaid on New Year's Day, despite Gov. Terry Branstad and Iowa's Department of Human Services insisting the state was ready to make the switch.  

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says though many of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders's ideas sound good in theory, "In theory isn't enough.  A president has to deal in reality."

While speaking to a crowd of roughly 600 people at Simpson College in Indianola on Thursday, Clinton said she wants to build on President Obama’s work with the Affordable Care Act to get more Americans healthcare coverage. In contrast, Clinton says Sanders' approach would create gridlock since he wants, "...to start over from scratch with a whole new system." 

Iowa Public Radio / Amy Mayer

Iowa’s Agriculture Secretary says his department needs more money to prevent future outbreaks of avian influenza and other livestock diseases. A request for an additional $500,000 in funding was not in the governor’s budget that was released last week, so Sec. Bill Northey reiterated his request to the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. 

The funding would go towards training and equipment. Also, the department says it wants to hire a veterinarian and program coordinator to monitor animal diseases in the state. 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Republican presidential candidates Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump voiced their support for ethanol at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona on Tuesday.

The candidates took aim the EPA for lowering the mandated amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply below targets set by congress in 2007. Iowa is the nation's leading producer of the renewable fuel, which in the U.S. is primarily made with corn. 

WIKICOMMONS / Bobak Ha'Eri

Sioux City municipal employees are at work Monday, but next year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day will be a paid holiday. A new contract negotiated by AFSCME for 400 city staff takes effect in 2017, and one provision included the civil rights leader's birthday. 

Sioux City's NAACP chapter says its been raising the issue of the federal holiday not being a city holiday for decades. 

Dick DeMarsico / Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Two Iowa museums are offering special programming on Martin Luther King Day today, that examines the country's complicated history with race.

The African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids is giving a presentation on Martin Luther King’s life and legacy. It's also screening a documentary on the Children’s March, a protest which was part of the 1963 Birmingham Civil Rights campaign. 

FLICKR / WILLIAM PATRICK BUTLER

About 20 lawyers representing six healthcare companies and the state of Iowa crowded into a small Polk County courtroom Thursday.

All want Judge Robert Blink to issue or reject various stays, or orders, relating to the upcoming privatization of Iowa's $4.2 billion Medicaid system. All also argued a ruling in their favor prioritizes the healthcare of Iowa's 560,000 Medicaid recipients. 

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

Iowa’s Chief Justice Mark Cady is calling on the state to pay closer attention to who serves on juries as a way of reducing racial disparities in the criminal justice system. During his annual Condition of the Judiciary address on Wednesday, Cady told lawmakers one of the ways Iowa can work to combat inequality is to track and maintain data on the racial composition of juries.

"The internal data will help us determine if [the] jury selection process we use could be improved," says Cady.

John Pemble/IPR

Gov. Terry Branstad told lawmakers, “It’s time for a fresh look at our criminal justice system," during his annual Condition of the State Address.

Branstad proposes sealing the criminal records of juveniles, working to make juries more racially diverse, and making sure a defendant’s race does not play a role in how they are charged, tried, or sentenced.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Trustees from the U.S. Conference of Mayors were in Des Moines Monday afternoon, ahead of the Brown and Black Presidential Forum at Drake University. The annual forum is geared towards African-American and Latino voters, and the mayors were discussing salient issues in urban and minority communities. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Gov. Terry Branstad says the budget he’ll present tomorrow along with the annual Condition of the State Address is “very tight," but he adds lawmakers shouldn’t be caught off-guard by want he’s proposing this legislative session. 

"There's no surprise," says Branstad. "I think I've done a pretty good job of visiting with legislators about the tough decisions we have to make." 

Flickr / Paul Weaver

Requests for permits-to-carry for firearms are flooding county sheriff’s offices across Iowa. Some places are seeing increases of 300 to 400 percent. 

These law enforcement officials say the deluge is largely due to the fact the legislature extended Iowa’s permit-to-carry from a one to a five-year expiration back in January 2011. Now this first group is up for renewal and by law, once an application is submitted a permit must be issued within 30 days.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson says he plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with what he calls, “health empowerment accounts.” 

During a town hall meeting in Panora on Wednesday, the retired neurosurgeon described health empowerment accounts as health-savings accounts, "but with no bureaucrats.” Everyone with a Social Security number would get an account, and families would be able to shift money among themselves to pay for medical care.

Flickr / IowaPolitics.com

Iowa's Senate Majority Leader says there will be legislation that provides oversight of the transition of Iowa’s Medicaid program into management by private companies. 

"The rollout of this managed care has been messy and we're going to standup for the patients and for providers out there that need to understand the rules of the game," says Democrat Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, who has been a vocal critic of Medicaid privatization. "We don't think there are enough protections right now in that process, so we're going to keep working on that."

Iowa Public Radio / Clay Masters

Iowa's governor wants to kill two birds with one stone.

Gov. Terry Branstad says by extending a sales tax increase enacted in 2008* to 2049, schools will get an additional $10 million annually for things like technology and infrastructure projects. He projects that the state will also raise nearly $4.7 billion in this period to address soil and water conservation issues related to agriculture.

Flickr / Phil Roeder

Registering to vote in Iowa just got a whole lot easier, provided you have a driver’s license or state-issued ID. A new portal allows the Iowa Department of Transportation to share a voter’s information with Iowa’s Secretary of State.

Secretary of State Paul Pate says the portal is a more accurate and efficient way to maintain voter information, and will make Iowa voting a quicker process. 

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