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Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

A federal jury in Kansas City, Kansas, awarded nearly $218 million to Kansas corn farmers after finding seed giant Syngenta AG was negligent when it introduced strains of genetically engineered corn seed into the marketplace that were not approved for import by the Chinese government.  

The eight-member jury returned its $217,700,000 verdict after an 18-day-long trial, the first of eight certified class actions lawsuits against Syngenta brought in state court.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says she is studying the controversial health care bill unveiled in the Senate yesterday.    

But the freshman Republican is not ready to say whether she’ll vote for the measure that reduces health care benefits for Americans currently on Obamacare, and cuts federal dollars for low-income and disabled Americans.   

“It was just released yesterday,” Ernst said at a statehouse news conference, “so we have 142 pages to go through. I want to make sure that I've had time to go through it, talk to my staff, talk to folks around Iowa.”    

Rick Fredericksen, IPR

Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture is leading a delegation to Kosovo. The group includes representatives from business, education and sports.

Bill Northey is being joined by a number of representatives from higher education, including the presidents of Des Moines Area Community College and Iowa Central Community College. Northey says their work is of interest to educators in Kosovo.

Bravo Greater Des Moines

As the annual Des Moines Arts Festival gets underway, an arts support council is releasing an economic impact study. The results are meant to show the arts contribute to more than just the quality of life.

The study for the organization Bravo Greater Des Moines was conducted by the national group Americans for the Arts. It shows the arts are a $185 million industry in Central Iowa and employ nearly 5,700 full-time workers. The executive director of Bravo, Sally Dix, says the arts play a serious economic role.

Tim Mueller has raised corn and soybeans on 530 acres near the city of Columbus, Nebraska, for decades, but today he is planning to take a big gamble.

AARP Iowa

On the day Senate Republicans unveiled their plan to revamp the nation’s healthcare system, AARP Iowa is releasing a survey of older Iowans’ attitudes on health policy. The organization is opposed to any plan that would weaken government programs already in place.

trump
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

President Donald Trump held a campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids Wednesday night. Around 6,000 people were there to see his first visit to Iowa as president.

President Trump celebrated recent Republican wins in special congressional elections, touted his accomplishments as president, and criticized Democrats and the media.

"While we are here tonight to celebrate the amazing progress that we’ve already made—and we have made amazing progress—we’re also here to lay out the next steps in our incredible movement to make America great again," Trump said.

Grand Design Recreational Vehicles

Winnebago Industries’ purchase of an Indiana company last fall is continuing to pay off for the Forest City-based manufacturer of recreational vehicles. Third quarter earnings are way up from a year ago.

Dean Born / IPR

Cedar Rapids mayor, Ron Corbett, says Iowa has “come to the close of the Branstad era.” He’s asking Republicans to nominate him for Governor.

In announcing his candidacy, Corbett is officially opposing Governor Kim Reynolds who is a protege' of the Branstad administration. Terry Branstad resigned a month ago to become U.S. Ambassador to China

Corbett acknowledged the transition during a Tuesday evening picnic in downtown Cedar Rapids, saying, “It’s time to elect new leaders, with new ideas, that have a new game plan for the State of Iowa.”

John Pemble/IPR file photo

President Donald Trump will be in Cedar Rapids tomorrow. He will tour Kirkwood Community College with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The visit will give them a look at advanced agriculture technologies offered in the country’s largest two-year agriculture program, and may offer an opportunity to speak on farm policy.

Jennifer Morrow / flickr

The health insurance company Medica has decided to sell individual plans on Iowa’s Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018. The announcement came Monday in a news release.

It’s likely Medica will be the only company selling individual ACA-compliant health insurance statewide in Iowa. It’s proposing to increase rates by an average of 43.5 percent.

Iowa Insurance Division

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is urging people to read and comment on a proposal he hopes will keep insurance carriers selling individual policies in the state in 2018.  Two carriers have already said they won’t sell such policies in Iowa next year, and a third is expected to decide soon.  Commissioner Doug Ommen says he hopes to get the federal government’s permission by the end of this month to implement his plan but stresses the government needs to agree on a longer-term heal

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Two giants of American agriculture and industry are closer to becoming one.

 

Dow and DuPont, both leaders in agricultural chemicals and seeds, among other products, received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to move ahead with a merger, provided they divest several products.

 

Office of Sen. Joni Ernst

Iowa’s junior U.S. Senator is describing the mood at the Capitol as somber following the shootings at a Republican Congressional baseball practice. But Joni Ernst is hesitant to call for security to accompany each member of Congress.

Capitol police were at the ball field in Alexandria, Virginia, because of the presence of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was shot. They have been praised for their quick action to prevent more casualties. Republican Senator Ernst says members of Congress need to be vigilant, but she’s uncertain if they need armed protection.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says she plans to run for a full term in 2018.  Reynolds became governor when Terry Branstad resigned last month to become the U-S ambassador to China.  Branstad’s term runs through January, 2019.  Reynolds says current acting Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg will be her running mate.  They’ve established a new campaign committee and plan to make a final decision and a formal announcement within the next few months.

After coming to an agreement with U.S. trade officials to bring American beef to China after a 14-year hiatus, the most populous country in the world is set to once again import U.S.-raised beef. To take advantage of the massive new market, however, the U.S. cattle industry is going to have to make some changes.

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. 

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

Drake University is officially opening a renovated building to house its occupational therapy doctorate program. It will be a place where students learn and patients are helped to recover.

A former bookstore has been converted into the home of Drake’s year-old doctorate program in occupational therapy. In addition to classrooms, it features a four-room apartment and a streetscape, complete with an automobile. A member of the first class of students in the program, Maddy Nave, says the caregivers of people with ALS recently came to the building for training.

marijuana
Tomas de Aquino/flickr

Iowa passed emergency rules Tuesday to expand the list of medical conditions that allow a patient to use medical marijuana. It's the first phase of implementing the new medical marijuana law signed last month.  

Iowans diagnosed with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, AIDS and other severe or terminal illnesses can start applying for a registration card June 19.

When cards are issued in August, those patients still won't be able to legally obtain medical marijuana in the state.

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. 

Reid Chandlet, Trilix Group

Ten months after the announcement of its creation, the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator has a permanent executive director. The incubator for start-up companies involved in agriculture also is bringing in its first class of five.

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.

NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute

The space probe Cassini has been exploring Saturn since 2004.  One of the instruments on the two story tall spacecraft is from the University of Iowa called the Radio Plasma and Wave Science (RPWS) instrument.  It picks up Saturn’s radio waves.

 

University of Iowa scientist Bill Kurth takes telemetry from the RPWS and converts it to audio files in the human hearing range.  It’s a mix of ascending tones.  Some have a squealing quality.

Iowa Insurance Division

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is asking the federal government to approve a plan that could keep the state’s individual health insurance market from collapsing. It’s possible the state could have no insurers selling individual plans on the Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018.

Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen says tweaking the ACA could stabilize the state’s individual market and make it more attractive to insurers.

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.

Coon Valley Cooperative Telephone Association

A rural telephone cooperative in western Iowa is receiving a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help upgrade its broadband capabilities. The money will enable it to replace copper wires with fiber.

The Coon Valley Cooperative Telephone Association in the Guthrie County town of Menlo is getting a $6.5 million loan from the USDA. It will use the money to lay more than 200 miles of fiber. Association general manager Jim Nelson says access to high-speed internet is increasingly important for the cooperative’s 700 members.

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.

Farmers and ranchers, with their livelihoods intimately tied to weather and the environment, may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump Administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

John Pemble / IPR

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie signed on with more than 200 mayors last week to uphold the Paris Agreement. That’s the global accord from which President Donald Trump withdrew the United States. Cownie says it’s a challenge for the city to move forward with clean energy goals without more buy-in from state leaders who regularly fall in line with the president.

“To ignore that factual piece and the science around it and all the data that’s out there is really unfortunate for the citizens of the state of Iowa and looking at our future and how we preserve our resources,” Cownie says.

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

The Domestic Violence Intervention Program is closing offices in Burlington and Keokuk this summer to prepare for cuts to victim services funding. 

The closures come as Iowa programs that help victims of domestic and sexual violence are trying to figure out how to deal with a combined $5.7 million cut in state and federal funding.

DVIP Executive Director Kristie Fortmann-Doser  says a lack of private places for victims to drop in and talk to advocates could impact their immediate safety.

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