news

John Pemble/IPR

State lawmakers return to the capitol today, starting another week of negotiations within the Republican party over how much to cut state income taxes.   

The GOP-controlled House and Senate last week unveiled updated and competing tax plans.   

House members call  their tax cut bill “significant but responsible,” while the Senate’s is, in  their words “bold but prudent.”

Under the House bill, the average individual income tax cut would reach nearly 9 percent.   The bill would cost $1.3 billion over five years.  

university of iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Iowa is putting construction and maintenance on hold in order to absorb an estimated $5.5 million worth of budget cuts from state lawmakers. School officials say stalling necessary repairs will cost more in the long term. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

There are only a few days before per diems stop for legislators. It's the goal for the session to end by the 100th day -- April 17th -- but with two different tax codes in the works and no fiscal year 2019 budget, it's likely the session will continue longer. 

courtesy / U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall's Office

Held up over disagreements over federal food stamps, the first draft of the 2018 farm bill arrived Thursday, bearing 35 changes to that program, including starting a national database of participants.

The current farm bill expires Sept. 30; in the past, Congress has had to extend their work beyond deadlines. The bill released Thursday came from the House Agriculture Committee, which is headed by Texas Republican Rep. Mike Conaway.

Wearing a heavy smock and rubber boots, Amadedin Eganwa stands over a large conveyor belt that’s carrying unconscious lambs. He faces east, towards Mecca, gently lifts the animal’s head in the same direction and under his breath he quickly says a prayer — bismillahi allahu akbar, or “in God’s name” — before swiftly cutting the lamb’s throat.

Thomas Hawk via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/14471621099/

As Iowa’s local law enforcement officers are beginning to adjust to the state’s new sanctuary cities law, they’re running into some constitutional questions.

mike cormack
Joyce Russell/IPR

Senate Democrats Thursday blocked Iowa Public Employment Relations Board Chairman Mike Cormack from returning to his position.

They voted down Gov. Kim Reynolds’ nominee for his role in administering a controversial collective bargaining law passed last year. Cormack’s board oversees the elections public-sector unions must now hold before each contract negotiation.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Iowa legislature honored accomplished native daughter and record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson with a joint House and Senate Resolution today.   

Whitson is from Mount Ayr and grew up on a farm near Beaconsfield.  

When she returned from her most recent mission last September, Whitson had spent over 289 days in orbit, and had cumulatively spent over 665 days during her three missions aboard the International Space Station, more time living and working in space than any other American or any woman worldwide.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Gov. Reynolds’ nominee for a position on the Iowa Board of Medicine went down to defeat in a  confirmation vote in  the Iowa Senate today.  

Nevada resident Katherine Asjes is the wife of a NATO flight officer with a background in public relations who has lived all over the world, but settled in Iowa in 2005.     

The Senate voted 30 to 18 for confirmation, short of the two-thirds majority required.

Senate Democrats objected to a post on a Catholic blog in which Asjes agreed with negative views about the LGBT community.    

Rachel Samerdyke/USFWS Midwest via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmidwest/9260033969/

Wildlife biologists need the help of Iowa residents to monitor frog and toad populations. The research could tell scientists more about the state’s water quality.

Joyce Russell/IPR

On a strict party-line vote, Republicans in the Iowa House today approved a proposed constitutional amendment to clarify the line of succession when an Iowa lieutenant governor assumes the governorship.     

Republicans say that will correct what some saw as an error over the appointment of acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg last year. 

When Gov. Reynolds assumed the governorship last year, according to an opinion from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, she was not able to formally appoint Adam Gregg to the second-in-command position.    

cathy glasson
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Workers on Democrat Cathy Glasson’s campaign for governor have become the first campaign staffers in Iowa to unionize. Glasson is a union leader, and making it easier for Iowans to join unions is one of her central campaign promises.

Organizing Director Michael Fasullo said Glasson campaign workers want to set an example.

supreme court
John Pemble/IPR file photo

The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case that could determine whether the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) has the power to regulate cities’ traffic cameras.

Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Muscatine are challenging a 2015 IDOT order to remove some of their traffic cameras. The cities have been ordered to stop issuing tickets from the cameras in question while this case is being considered by the state’s highest court.

Kate Payne

Eastern Iowa officials are encouraging people to report any hate-related incidents. In the past few months Iowa City has seen white power fliers handed out in a neighborhood and anti-Semitic graffiti on the University of Iowa campus. Now local law enforcement and community leaders are asking for residents' help to identify and prevent potential hate crimes.

pixabay

A leading Iowa maker of agricultural equipment today warned of the impact on Iowa’s manufacturing sector from a trade dispute between the U.S. and China.      

On March 23, the United States put a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. In response, China placed retaliatory tariffs of 15-25 percent on 128 American products, including pork.

Additional threatened tariffs from both sides are now in play. 

John Pemble/IPR

Gov. Reynolds' $1.7 billion tax cut bill was the subject of a public hearing at the statehouse last night, where dozens of Iowans weighed in for and against.  

The bill which is under consideration in the House cuts personal income taxes by up to 23 percent as well as small business taxes.    It would cost the state treasury $300 million a year starting next year.

One supporter, Amy Boozell, is a mother of five who works with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Story County.    She says working people deserve a break on their taxes.

Gage Skidmore via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/17649805888/

Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg will have to answer to members of Congress this week about the company’s management of user data. He's slated to testify before a joint meeting of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees on Tuesday, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Here's some insight on what Iowa’s senior senator wants to hear.

John Pemble/IPR

  

The Head of the Iowa Department of Human Services is defending the state’s privatized Medicaid system, after a scathing report last week by the state ombudsman.  

The report said complaints from patients and providers jumped by 157% last year, making Medicaid one of the top targets of complaints from citizens reporting difficulties with the government.

Since April of 2016, for-profit companies have managed the program for 640,000 Iowans who are poor or disabled.

kim reynolds
John Pemble/IPR

We’re headed into the last few weeks of the legislative session, and as usual for a Monday, IPR’s Clay Masters and Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell chatted about the legislature on Morning Edition.

Gov. Reynolds won’t face a primary challenge, but the possibility of a challenge hasn’t seemed to affect her work.  Russell says the governor had a limited legislative agenda this year, primarily consisting of the “Future Ready” workforce development legislation, which she has already signed. 

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in one of four cases involving traffic cameras.

Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Muscatine argue the Iowa Department of Transportation doesn’t have the authority to regulate how cities enforce their traffic laws.

In 2015, the IDOT ordered the three cities to remove some of their speed cameras. The cities sued, and in 2017, a district court upheld the IDOT order. The cities appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate will return to the negotiating table at the capitol Monday, hoping to find agreement within their party on tax cuts that will clear the way for adjournment of this year’s legislative session. 

A Senate bill cuts taxes more than the governor and the Republican-controlled House are recommending.   Work on the more than $7 billion state budget can’t get underway in earnest until the tax issues are resolved.  

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver thinks a resolution on taxes and targets for the budget can be completed this week.

Kate Payne

Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator is downplaying some of the concerns over proposed tariffs on Chinese imports. . Farmers are bracing for a potential trade war which could threaten corn, soybean and hog sales. While Sen. Chuck Grassley acknowledges the impacts could hurt farmers, he says it’s too early to be too worried.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

At this point, it's common to hear bills are enrolled. This means both chambers have approved a bill and it awaits the governor to sign it in to law or veto.  Because the chambers are controlled by the same party as the governor, a vetos are highly unlikely.

Drake University

An art professor at Drake University is a winner of the prestigious Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in the arts. He’s only the second Drake faculty member to receive the honor, and one of a few Iowans.     

Chicago-born printmaker Phillip Chen has been teaching at Drake since 1996. He is the only person currently living in Iowa on this year’s list of 173 Guggenheim Fellows. The recognition comes with an undisclosed financial reward, which Chen says he can use.

Seeking what he called “clean” food for lunch, Alexander Minnelli chose ProteinHouse, one of the newer restaurants in downtown Kansas City.

The Shelter House via facebook / https://www.facebook.com/shelterhouseiowa/

An Iowa City nonprofit is starting construction on a new kind of housing development for those experiencing chronic homelessness. The unit is thought to be the only one in the state to use the “housing first" model. 

John Pemble/IPR

A bill that aims to correct some of the problems in Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system advanced in the Republican-controlled Iowa House this week.  

The bill comes as complaints continue from patients not getting services and providers not getting paid. 

A House committee approved HF2483 on Tuesday, one day after the state ombudsman released a scathing report on the privatized program, including services for the elderly and disabled.

Amy Mayer / IPR file photo

As China and the United States continue to lob threats over new import tariffs, farmers in the Midwest are already adjusting to the first shots in what could become a trade war.

China imposed new tariffs on pork this week, pressuring producers who already are barely making ends meet, and now the two countries have released lists for the next group of products each would hit if disputes over intellectual property and other issues aren't resolved.

corbett
Dean Borg / IPR

A Polk County judge ruled late Wednesday that Ron Corbett cannot run in the Republican primary for governor, leaving Gov. Kim Reynolds without a primary challenge.

Judge David May upheld the state elections panel’s decision to keep Corbett off the ballot because his petition was eight signatures short of the number required by law.

hometownsource.com

The woman who was the brainchild behind the popular Olympic-style Iowa Games has died.

Carol Droste was an administrative assistant to First Lady Chris Branstad in the 1980s when she noted the competitive games taking place in neighboring states, says the Chief Operating Officer for the Iowa Sports Foundation, Kevin Bourke.

“She was the one who had seen what was happening in the other states around Iowa – the Cornhusker State Games, the Prairie State Games in Illinois, the Show Me State Games in Missouri – and presented the idea to Governor Branstad,” Bourke says.

Pages