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cedar rapids police patch
City of Cedar Rapids

A Cedar Rapids city employee was hospitalized after he brought a shotgun to the City Services Center  Wednesday morning. City officials say the man intended to harm himself.

The City Services Center, which houses several city departments and nearly 375 employees, was evacuated Wednesday morning.

Cedar Rapids Deputy Police Chief Tom Jonker says police entered the building and confirmed the man had caused no injuries.

ACLU OF IOWA

A Des Moines suburb says it is not violating the First Amendment rights of two couples who were told to remove signs on their properties that were critical of the city.

Last week a letter from the ACLU of Iowa to the city of Windsor Heights said that infringes on free speech. In its response, Windsor Heights says the homeowners didn’t comply with city code because they lacked permits, and because the signs displayed were the wrong size.

doug ommen
Iowa Insurance Division

Iowa has submitted a "stopgap" plan to the federal government with the goal of stabilizing the state’s collapsing individual health insurance market.

The plan redirects federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to encourage younger, healthier people to buy insurance.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen says the plan to change parts of the ACA will prevent thousands from dropping insurance. 

Joyce Russell/IPR File

Gov. Kim Reynolds is declining to say whether she’s fully behind President Trump, when she was questioned during her weekly press conference if the president still has her “full-fledged” support. The governor says Iowa is her first priority.  Reynolds backed the Republican nominee Trump during the presidential election. 

Last week Trump seemed to equate neo-Nazis and skinheads with protesters opposing white supremacy after a protest in Virginia turned violent.

Reynolds said racist bigotry and hate is unacceptable, and emphasized her focus is on Iowa.

desks
alamosbasement/flickr

Early voting is underway on a $191.5 million bond question for the Iowa City Community School District.

It is considered the largest K-12 bond in state history, and it is supposed to fund the district’s "Facilities Master Plan."

Kate Moreland is a parent who has been advocating for the bond. She says she is excited for all the schools to be made accessible for students with disabilities, and for the installation of air conditioning.

Drake University

The Metro Arts Alliance of Greater Des Moines is ending operations after nearly 42 years, citing a lack of grant funding. 

The alliance is perhaps best known for arts education programming and the annual Jazz in July series, which celebrated its 35th year this summer.

Executive Direct Angela Ossian wouldn't say whether the drop in funding was from government or private sources, or both.

FLICKR / TAKESHI KUBOKI

The path of totality for today’s solar eclipse all but misses Iowa, except for a sliver of Fremont County, the state’s most southwestern county. 

Less than 600 square acres of Iowa will experience total darkness. Part of this area includes the Lower Hamburg Bend Wildlife Management Area.

Matt Moles works at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau. At 1:05 pm, he says, eclipse watchers at the wildlife area will experience 32 seconds of total darkness.

courtesy Iowans for Sam Clovis

As President Donald Trump continues to fill political appointments, his nomination for the top science job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is raising unique concerns.

Trump has chosen Iowan Sam Clovis to be undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics. Clovis served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, has a doctorate in public administration, and taught economics at Morningside College in Sioux City.

Sioux City is also where he gained a following as a conservative talk show host.

Iowa DNR

Next week as classes begin, Northwood Kensett secondary principal Keith Fritz will include something in his fall assembly speech that’s not heard often in Iowa schools.

“I mention, in addition to ‘we have the right to search your lockers, guys, we’re going to have a great year this year,” he says. "Those of you who hunt, federal firearms regulations prohibit you from having those on campus.’ And that’s all it takes, they just comply.” 

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Sen. Joni Ernst says she wants the federal government to continue making payments for Obamacare subsidies to health insurance companies.

President Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop making "cost-sharing reduction" payments.

That uncertainty has led the only health insurance company left on Iowa’s exchange to propose a nearly 57 percent rate hike for 2018. Medica originally requested a 43 percent increase. 

Flickr / Takeshi Kuboki

Don’t look at the sun during Monday’s eclipse.

That’s the message from Dr. Michael Abramoff, an ophthalmologist and retinal specialist at the University of Iowa. He warns that during every total solar eclipse, about five or 10 people permanently damage their eyes.

John Pemble/IPR

Gun rights activists are renewing their call to allow firearms at the Iowa State Fair, after a violent incident on the fairgrounds Tuesday night.   

A man was stabbed and critically injured in a fight involving four young men on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds.    

On social media, the Iowa Firearms Coalition is urging the state legislature to end the ban.

"If the Iowa State Fair can't stop violent crime during the fair they should allow lawful citizens to adequately protect themselves,"  the organization wrote on Twitter.

Student Voice

A group of students is gathering in Des Moines to talk about the future of education. They want to be part of the conversation about educational priorities.          

A nonprofit called the Iowa Student Learning Institute is behind the meeting among students, community leaders and legislators. Ian Coon co-founded the institute when he was in high school. Now a sophomore at Wartburg College, Coon says students need to be included when talk turns to education.

During the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, spectators will turn their eyes upward to see the moon pass in front of the sun.

But many Midwest scientists will turn their eyes and cameras to the plants and animals here on the ground. And they're not sure what will happen.

Wikimedia

One part of Iowa’s new comprehensive gun rights law that went into effect in July may end up in court. Under the new statute, a gunowner can sue any local government that tries to keep firearms out of public buildings.  

Dozens of counties with courthouse weapons bans are potential targets. 

Jackson County Chief Deputy Steve Schroeder says they lived through a nightmare a few years back at their courthouse in Maquoketa. 

police car
Diego Parra / Pixabay

The Marion Police Department is teaming up with University of Iowa researchers to improve policing strategies, pending approval by the Marion City Council.

Criminologists from the UI Public Policy Center will be embedded with the police department to promote "Intelligence Led Policing." 

Marion Police Chief Joe McHale says the partnership will help the department analyze information including locations and types of criminal activity.

Flickr / Phil Roeder

The ability of a police officer to spot someone carrying a concealed weapon or bomb is only slightly better than chance, according to a new study from Iowa State University.

Lead author Dawn Sweet directs ISU’s Body Language and Facial Expressions Lab. She says the study's findings don't show that police officers are bad at their jobs, rather it's that they lack the right training or tools to spot people who are concealing potential threats.

Inc. 5000

Twenty-eight Iowa companies are on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing privately owned firms nationwide. Most are located in urban areas, although a few small town enterprises landed spots.

Inc. magazine lists West Des Moines-based Ivy Lane Corporation as the fastest growing company in the state. Revenue for the owner of 35 Valvoline oil change stores has grown by 693 percent over the past three years to put it at 658 on the list.

Grape Tree Medical Staffing in the small, lakes-region town of Milford landed a few spots behind at 665.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

At a town hall Tuesday in Washington, Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst took several questions about the so-far unsuccessful Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Some questioners asked Sen. Ernst to support "Medicare for all," while others said they want no government involvement in health insurance.

Ernst says bipartisan groups of lawmakers are working on healthcare solutions after "repeal and replace" legislation failed several times in the Senate this year.

JOHN PEMBLE/IPR FILE

Gov. Kim Reynolds says she has called the graphic designer who created the three proposed images for Iowa’s new license plate. Iowa Department of Transportation employee Christina Andersen's work has been mocked and criticized on social media as bland or terrible.

"The severity of the words chosen in these comments ranges from stinging to an absolute gut punch that leaves me short of breath and tears flowing uncontrollably," wrote Andersen on her personal Facebook page last week.

Flickr / Max Goldberg

Iowa’s governor says proposed undergraduate tuition increases at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are too much. 

The schools in Iowa City and Ames are suggesting they raise costs by at least 7 percent annually for the next five years. These increases would mean that by 2022, tuition at UI and ISU would be more than 40 percent higher compared to what students currently pay.

The state Board of Regents asked the schools to look at tuition costs after the state cut funding by more than $30 million due to a statewide budget shortfall. 

Iowa Legislature

One of the Democratic candidates for Governor is leaving the crowded field. State Representative Todd Prichard of Charles City says he is suspending his campaign and will instead seek reelection to the Iowa House of Representatives. He did not endorse any of the other seven candidates, saying in a release he “looks forward to supporting progressive candidates at all levels of the Democratic ticket.”

Iowa Office of Latino Affairs

The inaugural class of inductees into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame is being introduced. The first three members are long-time activists within the state.

The Iowa Latino Hall of Fame was established earlier this year to honor Latinos who have made significant cultural, social, political and economic contributions to the state.

Sonia Reyes-Snyder is executive officer of the Office of Latino Affairs.

“It is very important for us to acknowledge the contributions Latinos have made to the state and to the Latino community,” she says.

gun
Bruno Stergodt / Wikimedia Commons

An overhaul of Iowa’s gun laws earlier this year included a controversial "stand your ground" provision. It means an individual who feels threatened has no duty to retreat before using deadly force for self-defense.

Gun rights groups consider the change a victory for gun owners, but the ripple effects of similar laws in other states have raised concerns among black Iowans. Some African-American residents of Waterloo are still grappling with what the "stand your ground" law could mean for themselves, their families and young people of color.

John Pemble / IPR

Next year a newly-designed license plate will be available for Iowans.  Earlier this year, the governor's office asked for a new look for the plates. On the first day of the Iowa State Fair at the Department of Transportation’s booth, state officials unveiled three designs.  Gov. Kim Reynolds was on hand for the unveiling, and said she likes what she sees.

“They’ve done a good job,” says Reynolds. “I really am grateful to the staff for really their expertise in being able to design this.”

bruce harreld
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The University of Iowa is proposing a 7.08 percent tuition increase in each of the next five years. The school presented its plan Monday to the Board of Regents’ Tuition Task Force.

ACLU of Iowa

The ACLU of Iowa says a Des Moines suburb has violated the constitutional rights of two couples, who displayed signs critical of the city on their properties. The civil liberties organization is demanding the City of Windsor Heights allow the homeowners to display their signs.

One of the signs opposes a recent decision by Windsor Heights to install sidewalks. The second protests the city's removal of the first sign.

Ross Wilburn

A former mayor of Iowa City is entering the Democratic race for governor. Fifty-two-year-old Ross Wilburn is formally making the announcement that he is joining the field of seven other Democrats Monday at the Iowa State Fair. Wilburn is a native of Davenport and was the first African-American elected mayor of Iowa City in 2006. He served just one term, but was on the city council for 12 years. 

Amy Mayer/IPR

Several new gun-related measures enacted during the 2017 Iowa legislative session are taking effect and Iowa Public Radio is exploring their implications for the state. But it’s hard to follow gun news if you don’t speak the language. Come along on visits to Camp Dodge, Brownells retail gun shop, and the Story County Sheriff’s office to learn about different types of firearms.

Drake University

Thirteen immigrant high school students in Des Moines are telling their stories for all to hear. They are part of a project at Drake University to share their personal experiences via podcast. 

Lincoln High senior Heman Gurang is polishing a script to introduce his grandfather.

“He’s from Bhutan, like my family, who was forced to leave Bhutan, then he moved to Nepal. After many years in Nepal, he came to Michigan in the United States,” Gurang reads.

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