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Joyce Russell/IPR

More than 200 people died from opioid use last year, and in some parts of the state, by the end of this year the total number of overdoses will double. 

A statehouse committee heard two days of testimony on the growing number of deaths from prescription painkillers and heroin in Iowa.  Health care providers urged legislators to expand treatment to those addicted to opioids.

Mike Polich heads the UCS Healthcare drug treatment center in Des Moines.  

He showed lawmakers a photo of patients standing in line to get methadone, a drug that helps addicts get off heroin.

There will be new restrictions on the weed killer dicamba for the 2018 growing season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.

The broadly defined restrictions, similar to what the state of Missouri imposed over the summer, were announced Friday in a news release. The EPA says it reached an agreement with agriculture giants Monsanto, BASF and DuPont on ways to tamp down on dicamba drift, which has been blamed for destroying or damaging millions of acres of crops in the United States.

WIKICOMMONS / Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Farmers use fertilizer because it helps crops grow. But according to a new study from Iowa State University, for some native plant species in Iowa a chemical found in fertilizer does the opposite, harming the biodiversity in Iowa’s tallgrass prairies.

Nitrogen is found in fertilizer and is hard to contain as it flows from farm fields to water and gets into the air, reaching other plants.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

A former Iowa DCI agent, who was fired after reporting speeding by then-Governor Branstad’s security detail, would not be getting his day in court soon under a motion filed this week in Polk County District Court.  

The motion filed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says former agent Larry Hedlund’s case should be put on hold until Branstad completes his assignment as U.S. Ambassador to China.  

MadMaxMarchHere / Wikimedia Commons

Four finalists to be the next president of Iowa State University were on the Ames campus this week for interviews and meetings with faculty, staff and community members. Now, the search committee will review the feedback from the public forums and meet with the Board of Regents. A final decision is expected on October 23rd. The next president will replace Steven Leath who is now president of at Auburn University in Alabama. 

iowa city
Kris / flickr

The Trump administration announced Thursday it is leaving UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organization, but Iowa City still expects to keep its designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon says he is "profoundly disappointed" by the decision, but he does not believe this will change Iowa City’s designation.

"Our relationship is directly with UNESCO as a city," Kenyon says. "The designation was conferred upon Iowa City by UNESCO directly, so I don’t see a way that this would have an impact on that."

Nodaway Valley Historical Museum

This weekend citizens from a southwest Iowa community’s past will come back to life for the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum seventh annual cemetery walk.

Reenactors will revive 11 people buried in the Clarinda Cemetery. This isn’t a spooky event, but rather one that allows people from in and around Page County to learn about local history. 

Nodaway Valley Historical Museum curator Trish Okamoto says researching each of the departed takes about a year.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds' appointee to head the Iowa Department of Human Services today painted a bleak picture of morale among Iowa's child protection workers, citing high caseloads and recent high-profile child abuse deaths.   

Director Jerry Foxhoven told the Iowa Council on Human Services that he's been visiting with social workers individually and in groups to assess the needs on the front lines.   

He says some workers have not met personally with the top DHS official since the days of the Tom Vilsack administration.

As soybean and cotton farmers across the Midwest and South continue to see their crops ravaged from the weed killer dicamba, new complaints have pointed to the herbicide as a factor in widespread damage to oak trees.

Monsanto and BASF, two of agriculture’s largest seed and pesticide providers, released versions of the dicamba this growing season. The new versions came several months after Monsanto released its latest cotton and soybean seeds genetically engineered to resist dicamba in 2016. Since then, farmers across the Midwest and South have blamed drift from dicamba for ruining millions of acres of soybeans and cotton produced by older versions of seeds.

Now, complaints have emerged that the misuse of dicamba may be responsible for damage to oak trees in Iowa, Illinois and Tennessee.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Officials with NAACP of Iowa are planning to try again next year to win protections for African-Americans who face barriers to employment after serving time in prison.    

The initiative known as Ban the Box would eliminate a common question on job applications about an applicant’s criminal history, while preserving the employer’s right to get that information later in the hiring process.  

Backers say ex-convicts who have paid their debt to society are too often turned away in the first round of screening regardless of their fitness for the job.  

Sarah Boden/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds says she hasn’t received any indication from the White House that it opposes Iowa’s attempt to lower premium rates for health insurance policies on the Obamacare exchange.

One Iowa

The state’s largest advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning residents is staging a first-time event in Des Moines. The full-day summit is aimed at workplace culture.

One Iowa says the first annual gathering to be held at Principal Financial Group is designed to show employers how to improve their policies toward LGBTQ workers. The executive director of the organization, Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, says it makes sense to focus on the office because that’s where people spend much of their time.

Jean Poland Photography / Mason City Chamber of Commerce

A forum is scheduled for Saturday morning at Mason City High School to discuss two measures on its November ballot that total up to $32 million in bonds that would support several development projects.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa is one of 38 states that radically changed the way it runs Medicaid over the past few years. The state moved about 600,000 people on the government-run health program into care that is managed by for-profit insurance companies.

The idea is that the private companies would save the state money, but it has been a rocky transition in Iowa, especially for people like Neal Siegel.

Amy Mayer/IPR

Galen Fick milks 50 Brown Swiss cows every day on his farm in Boyden, Iowa, where his family has been in the dairy business for generations. Life as a dairy farmer has gotten harder and harder, he says, especially in the past two years.

“Our inputs have gone up so much, not the feed part of it but everything else,” he says, pointing to veterinary care and, especially, labor. “For us to make that profit, [it] makes it very tough.”

refugees
Steve Evans/Wikimedia Commons

The Trump administration is planning to admit 45,000 refugees this fiscal year—the lowest cap in the history of the nation's refugee program that started in 1980. Iowa’s refugee resettlement agencies are expecting fewer arrivals and facing more uncertainty than in past years. 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa’s secretary of agriculture is one step closer to a new post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bill Northey appeared before the senate agriculture committee Thursday. He answered questions about a variety of farm-support and conservation programs he would oversee as undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services. One of those is the conservation reserve program, which pays farmers to take certain lands out of production and maintain them for environmental goals. Northey hedged on whether he would support expanding the amount of acres allowed in the program.

WIKICOMMONS / Nevit Dilmen

Iowa has enough money through March to continue providing health care to children from moderate and low income families, while Congress figures out how to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The program provides healthcare to nearly 9 million children nationwide, including 60,000 in Iowa. States structure CHIP programs differently, which means funding will run out in different places at different intervals.

Iowa DOT

Transgender Iowans who want their sex designation changed on their driver’s licenses will now have clearer guidelines, under proposed rules at the Iowa Department of Transportation.    

Currently, a person born in Iowa who undergoes a sex change can present medical records to the Department of Public Health, get their birth certificate updated, and then present that to the DOT.      

But some states don’t update birth certificates for transgender people.          

naloxone
Tom Wolf / flickr

Iowa’s attorney general has struck a new deal with a drugmaker to make an opioid overdose reversal drug more affordable.

Public agencies in Iowa, including law enforcement and public hospitals, will pay less for naloxone through a rebate agreement with Amphastar.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says first responders in the state have been using naloxone to save lives.

IPR/Pat Blank

A collaboration of food producers in North Iowa has resulted in the opening of one of the area’s first farm to table restaurants. That means as much of the menu as possible is locally grown.  

Joshua Frederick is so passionate about his new venture that his steel blue eyes fill with tears as he talks about it.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Roughly 2800 immigrants living in Iowa who were brought to the U.S. as children are now participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.  

Under the program, they are freed from the threat of deportation, and granted work permits and other privileges.     

Now DACA is threatened by an order from President Trump. 

Two Iowa sisters wonder how their lives might be changed.

Five years ago, Monica Reyes, 22, and her sister Nilvea, 21,  were living with their mother in New Hampton.

A suburban Des Moines school district says it will resume tomorrow after it canceled classes today due to threatening text messages that were anonymously sent to a number of students and parents.

The texts were received last night from a number with a 818 area code, which is used in Los Angeles County, CA.

Des Moines Area Community College

Des Moines Area Community College and the University of Iowa are entering into an agreement to help nurses earn bachelor’s degrees. It’s another joint effort to attract more nurses to the field.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds today lamented the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history that occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday, leaving at least 59 people dead and more than 500 injured.   

“Nobody wants to wake up at five in the morning and read the news we all got up to this morning,”  Reynolds said, beginning her weekly news conference.  “I was sickened by the horrific act.”

Reynolds was asked if she would be proposing new gun control initiatives in light of the shooting.

pills in a bottle
nosheep / Pixabay

A new report from the University of Iowa makes policy recommendations for reducing prescription opioid abuse and overdose deaths.

Carri Casteel, UI associate professor and lead author of the report, says Iowa's prescription opioid overdose death rate is lower than in many other states, but it has quadrupled in the past 20 years. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A controversial settlement in a sexual harassment complaint against Republicans in the Iowa Senate was officially approved today, putting an end to a lawsuit alleging a sexually-charged atmosphere in the GOP caucus.   

The State Appeals Board agreed that Iowa taxpayers will cover the $1.75 million settlement, with the money going to former GOP staffer Kirsten Anderson and her attorneys. 

A district court had awarded Anderson $2.2 million.   

Solicitor General Jeff Thompson said continuing to fight that verdict could be costly.

COURTESY OF CHRISTOPHER GANNON/IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY

A new study says small patches of native prairie plants provide a range of conservation benefits to Iowa’s landscape and could reduce water pollution from farm fields.

So-called “prairie strips” are patches of land strategically planted to native, perennial mixes of grasses and flowers on the edges of crop fields.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Over the weekend, three Democratic U.S. representatives were in Iowa at a party fundraiser talking about how to appeal to the middle class again. Recently, Democrats have been losing elections in this state, known for its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. The event was meant to breathe life back into an old annual event and introduce some new faces in the party.

For years, the Harkin Steak Fry, a fundraiser for former Iowa Democratic U-S Senator Tom Harkin, was an annual staple for politicians in his party across the country.

Creighton University

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index is pointing to solid economic gains ahead. Inflation is also soaring.

The monthly report from Creighton University is at a healthy 58.2, above the growth neutral mark of 50 for the tenth straight month. The man who compiles the survey of supply managers in nine states, economist Ernie Goss, says he’s keeping an eye on job numbers released later this week to see what they say about wage increases.

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