news

Iowa Business Council

The state’s largest employers are anticipating economic growth over the next six months. An ongoing shortage of quality workers may get in the way.

The quarterly Economic Outlook Survey from the Iowa Business Council shows 80 percent of its members expect higher sales through summer. To meet demand, half say they will increase capital spending and nearly half forecast hiring more workers. The problem, says the Council’s executive director Georgia Van Gundy, is attracting and retaining a quality workforce in Iowa.

flossyflotsam/flickr

College students at Iowa’s Regents universities should plan to spend a little more for supplies under a bill that advanced in the Iowa House today.  

The bill would eliminate the sales tax exemption students currently enjoy at university-owned campus bookstores. 

Private industry complains the tax break is unfair competition.  

The owner of Iowa Book, a private store near campus, wrote a letter to lawmakers urging them to change the law.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

After hours of debate, and on a mostly party-line vote, Republicans in the Iowa House Tuesday approved legislation they say will ensure that local governments in Iowa cooperate with federal immigration authorities.  

GOP lawmakers told stories of serious crimes committed in other states where they say immigrants in the country illegally are “caught and released.”      

Under the bill, no city or county in Iowa may adopt a policy that discourages enforcement of federal  immigration laws or keeps police from inquiring about the immigration status of someone in detention.   

Kate Payne

Iowa U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst says she’s worried about the fate of DACA recipients in Iowa. The Republican lawmaker is voicing her concerns after President Donald Trump tweeted the program is "dead."

ron corbett
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A Republican candidate’s appeal to get on the primary ballot for governor came before a Polk County judge for a hearing Tuesday.

The state elections panel last week threw out Ron Corbett’s bid for governor in a 2-1 decision because it found his petition was eight signatures short of the 4,005 needed to qualify. That leaves incumbent Gov. Kim Reynolds with no opponent in the June 5 primary election.

Corbett appealed the decision, and his attorneys told a judge Tuesday that some crossed-out signatures should have been counted by the elections panel.

In winter, farmers across the U.S. visit their banks to learn whether they have credit for the next growing season, relying on that borrowed money to buy seed, fertilizer and chemicals.

But prices for corn, soybeans and wheat are low enough that some producers have had a hard time turning a profit, and financial analysts expect some farmers will hear bad news: Their credit has run out.

Thomas Favre-Bulle

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign a bill that would require the state’s schools to plan for emergencies.  If SF 2364 goes into effect, administrators may need to make changes soon.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowans who are struggling to afford health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplace gathered around Gov. Kim Reynolds today as she signed legislation allowing a lower-cost, unregulated product to take the place of traditional insurance. 

Under the bill, the plans will not be required to cover pre-existing conditions or other mandates of Obamacare.  

regina sampieri
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Over a decade ago, Regina Sampieri’s mom called the police on her because she was afraid she would die. Sampieri was abusing painkillers and getting dangerously thin.

“I used to describe being on drugs as being on the merry-go-round from hell,” Sampieri says. “You’re up, down, up, down, around and around—and all you want to do is get off this crazy, awful merry-go-round—and you can’t. You’re stuck there.”

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

We’re heading into the last few weeks of the legislative session, and there are still a few big things to be done before lawmakers go home, as we hear in a discussion between IPR's Joyce Russell and Michael Leland on Morning Edition.

The University of Washington / http://depts.washington.edu/moving1/black_migration.shtml

The city of Waterloo has won more $47,500 in grant money to a study a historically black neighborhood

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

On Monday, Gov. Kim Reynolds talks about firing the Director of Iowa Finance Authority, Dave Jamison.  She says he was terminated for credible allegations of sexual harassment.  She reiterates her zero tolerance policy, but reveals very little about the allegations due to privacy concerns for the victims.

In November, Reynolds said a Senate Republican report about past sexual harassment should reveal additional information about past claims while protecting personal information.  Reporters ask the governor how not releasing information related to Jamison is different. 

Hoyt Sherman Place

Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines is adding to its art collection a piece from circa 1600 that it has owned for nearly a century without knowing it. Officials have discovered “Apollo and Venus” by Dutch master Otto Van Veen.

University of Northern Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa is hosting a forum tonight to emphasize the contributions made by refugees to the state’s economy. The organizers hope it will help clear up some misunderstandings.

The open forum will include a panel made up of a sociologist, legal expert, someone from the Iowa Department of Human Services, and advocates for refugees. One of its organizers is a professor of international economics at UNI, Shahina Amin. She says it’s designed to help remove some stereotypes.

quasicasa via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/quasicasa/

Johnson County is raising its suggested minimum wage to $10.27 an hour. While officials can’t legally enforce the change, they hope it will set a new baseline for worker pay. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Families of loved ones who have suffered and died from mental illness gathered in the statehouse rotunda today to see Governor Reynolds sign two mental health bills into law.     

One comprehensive bill creates a new system of care facilities statewide for those in crisis. 

“We must identify the gaps in our system and this bill does that,” Reynolds says.

Under the bill, the state’s regional mental health districts will be required to offer new access centers for short-term crisis care. Community teams will offer individual treatment in the home and community.  

Meant to fund the federal government through early September, the $1.3 trillion bill signed by President Donald Trump last week also includes money and changes for ag-related programs beyond the “grain-glitch” fix.

Amy Mayer / IPR

Big cities in the Midwest are gaining ground on the rural communities that, for many decades, have thrived on the edges of urban development.

Since 1980, the amount of land being farmed or grazed in the U.S. has dropped 13 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Much of it now flaunts housing subdivisions, big-box stores and computer-server farms.

Outward growth from metropolitan areas can strain courts, schools and traffic. It also can change the cultural and regional identity of once-rural communities — something visible on the outskirts of two metro areas connected by Interstate 35 and an agricultural heritage: Des Moines, Iowa, and Kansas City, Missouri.

Penn State via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/

A Cedar Rapids official wants Iowa’s medical marijuana law expanded. The statement comes after the state’s second largest city was passed over for a dispensary.

PxHere

Psychiatrists would have clearer guidelines for reporting potentially dangerous patients to police, under a comprehensive mental health bill the governor will sign tomorrow. 

The bill tries to balance the desires of law enforcement with confidentiality concerns and the professional judgment of mental health professionals.    

Dean Borg/IPR

Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett is asking a district court judge to restore his candidacy for governor.  A three-judge panel Tuesday ruled decided Corbett’s nomination papers were eight signatures short of what is needed to put him on the Republican June primary election ballot.

Corbett contends his nomination papers had more than enough valid signatures, and that what he calls the “Republican establishment” backing incumbent Gov. Reynolds is blocking his candidacy.

gavel
SalFalko / Flickr

A Johnson County judge has found Lamar Wilson was not justified in shooting three people on Iowa City’s crowded Pedestrian Mall last summer.

Wilson claimed he fired his gun in self-defense, and asked the judge to grant him immunity from criminal charges in an early test of Iowa’s “stand your ground” law, which was passed in 2017.

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

A bill to allow cheaper health plans that don’t comply with the federal Affordable Care Act passed the Iowa Senate Tuesday and is heading to the governor’s desk.

Supporters say the new plans—offered through a Farm Bureau partnership with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield—would be a cheaper health care option for people who can’t pay the increasing price of insurance under the ACA.

“This bill is about getting those folks insured,” says Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan. “It’s a great investment.”

Vaping360 via flickr creative commons / http://vaping360.com/cbd-oil-cannabidiol-hemp-oil/

Five Iowa cities could soon have medical marijuana dispensaries after the state picked its preferred distributors Tuesday. Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Waterloo, Davenport and the Des Moines suburb of Windsor Heights are each slated to get a medical marijuana dispensary, if the companies accept the licenses by 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Wrestling is a big deal in Iowa. If you walk into any bar in the Hawkeye State during its high school wrestling tournament, chances are the event is blaring on every TV in sight.

Kate Payne

When the U.S. men’s team won Olympic gold in curling for the first time this year, people all over the country paid attention. Since the historic win a month ago, one curling club in Iowa says interest in the sport is exploding. 

Seth Sawyers via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/sidewalk_flying/

Gun control supporters in Iowa say they’ll continue to push for policy changes. Organizers hope to harness the energy from the marches that took place this past weekend.

supreme court
John Pemble/IPR file photo

The Iowa Supreme Court has made it possible for people who plead guilty to a crime to later claim innocence and challenge their conviction.

In a 4-3 opinion issued Friday, the court overturned its previous interpretation of Iowa law concerning post-conviction relief for those who plead guilty.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Reynolds Monday clarified that more than one employee came forward with allegations of sexual harassment before she fired the director of a state housing agency on Saturday.  

Reynolds said credible allegations against Iowa Finance Authority Director David Jamison were enough to dismiss him without further investigation.   

Speaking at her weekly news conference, Reynolds described the quick action that was taken after agency employees reported the harassment to Reynolds’ chief of staff Friday night.   

John Pemble/IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds has bill on her desk that approves mid-year cuts of more than $35 million to the state’s $7.2 billion budget. IPR’s Joyce Russell previews the week ahead at the legislature including what to expect from what the legislature has handed the governor.

Pages