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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.

Des Moines Golf and Country Club

One of the golfing world’s prime events is in West Des Moines this week. The biennial Solheim Cup pits the best professional female golfers in the U.S. against the best from Europe.

Planning for the international contest began four years ago when it was announced the Des Moines Golf and Country Club would be the 2017 site. Solheim Cup tournament director Chris Garrett has been in the area since then preparing for an event he expects to draw 30,000 spectators. He says he’ll take time to celebrate his team’s accomplishment in getting ready.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The dairy show at the Iowa State Fair continues into Saturday and cows are milked throughout each day. All the milk collected this year at the fair will be dumped.

In years past, milk collected from dairy cows during the state fair was sold to a Des Moines area co-op for production into cheese. But this year, the longstanding buyer backed out and no one else stepped up.

Alliant Energy

Alliant Energy is launching a new program for customers who want more of their electricity to come from renewable sources. 

The program called “Beyond Solar” could get underway once a new solar power plant in Dubuque goes online this fall.  

But a challenge from environmentalists may stand in the way.   

At a recent workshop at the Iowa Utilities Board, Alliant Energy made the case for “Beyond Solar.” 

doctors office
Jennifer Morrow / flickr

The Iowa Insurance Division is getting close to finalizing its "stopgap" plan to prop up the state’s individual health insurance market under the Affordable Care Act.

An independent economic analysis shows more Iowans will be able to keep their individual ACA health insurance if the federal government approves the state’s stopgap plan.

Deb Zeller

A 20-inch bronze statue in Sioux City has been stolen for the second time in as many years. “Goddess of the Grapes” was reportedly taken sometime around the end of June from the downtown area, though the Sioux City Art Center waited until July 17 to report the theft to police.

John Pemble / IPR

Today is the first day of Iowa State Fair. One new change this year is the fair is no longer using one contractor for all the amusement rides. This means the fair itself is now responsible for managing all of the rides.

"We're blending about 20 different companies together to make this midway," says State Fair CEO Gary Slater. "Other fairs that have done that, other events that have done that need, we needed an outside safety consultant, Wagoner and Associates, so that everybody is making sure of the same checklist every day and that we have our own Iowa State procedures."

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Along Interstate 80 in Iowa, near the Illinois border, is The World’s Largest Truck Stop – at least that’s what it claims. It has parking for 900 big rigs, there are restaurants, showers, even a dentist. Driver Roosevelt Phillips is here from Pittsburgh. He says truck stops like this one are a community.

“We talk about everything. I mean, y’know, I’m an adult so I’m talking to another truck driver, so we talk about whatever comes up,” Phillips says.

They talk about everything from politics to the news of the day – and the strange activity they see on the road.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Recently, four Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa ended operations. This comes after the Republican-controlled state legislature blocked federal funding to the organization as a way to restrict abortion access. But in addition to abortions, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland provides birth control, STD testing and cancer screenings.

To see if these closings have affected healthcare access in the state, I visited southeast Iowa, where two of the four clinics that recently closed were located.

Nan Palmereo/flickr

The Iowa Utilities Board today issued an order deregulating landline phone service quality in Iowa.  

That means that local telephone exchanges will no longer be required to meet customer service and quality standards.   

With the growing use of cellphones, deregulating landlines has become more common across the country.  The Iowa order cites the widespread availability of effective competition for local service, including mobile wireless and cable.  

Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa State University’s enrollment has escalated since 2009, while the state’s appropriation to the school has plunged. That’s the message interim President Ben Allen presented to the Board of Regents tuition task force today in Ames.

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Last week the Senate approved a bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse by federal employees when they travel.

The Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act directs the General Services Administration to review its database of charge card purchases to identity potential misuse.

Grassley says he believes this bill is important due to oversight investigations he’s conducted of the Defense Department and other federal agencies.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds threw her support behind her appointee to head the Iowa Department of Human Services following complaints about the State Training School for Boys at Eldora.   

An organization known as Disability Rights Iowa released a report criticizing the use of seclusion rooms and restraints on boys referred to the facility by juvenile courts, sometimes for serious crimes.   

Reynolds says DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven is the right person to review the complaint.

Drake University

Fifty students of color from the Des Moines public schools are on Drake University’s campus this week preparing for college. It’s an effort to draw more minorities into higher education.

University of Northern Iowa photo

In the first of three meetings to be held this month by Iowa’s Regents institutions, University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook Monday unveiled UNI’s five year tuition plan. Nook told a group of about 50 people on the UNI campus that in order to attract and retain students, any increases must be reasonable and predictable.

Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa.

A new online collection of primary source materials from Iowa and U.S. history is up and running as of today. The Primary Source Sets contain 174 items, including photographs, maps, audio recordings and documents.

The online collection was created for K-12 educators who are now required to teach Iowa history as part of their curriculums, though anyone can access the materials.

Flickr / Phil Roeder

This year, the Iowa State Fair’s youngest thrill seekers will be able to enjoy rides and games away from the faster, taller, scarier rides that are geared towards older children or adults.

Thrill Town is designed for the families who are still pushing around strollers. The idea is to create a calm, kid-friendly atmosphere that’s away from attractions like the "Haunted Mansion" or "Spaceroller."

Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa’s largest public employees union is warning of likely legal action after hundreds of government workers lost their overtime rights as of July 1st.   

Under Iowa’s new collective bargaining law, professional employees who hold 160 different government jobs will no longer get paid for overtime. 

Mark Hedberg is an attorney for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees or AFSCME. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Representatives of public employees who could lose their union representation appeared before a statehouse committee Friday to express concern about Iowa’s new collective bargaining law.   

Starting next month, thousands of public workers will cast ballots to continue to be represented by unions.    

The new law requires the regular recertification votes. Retaining union representation used to be automatic. 

TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline, is scheduled to go before the Nebraska Public Service Commission next week, the final hurdle before the agency decides whether the pipeline’s path should be approved.

Joyce Russell, IPR

The Iowa Board of Regents is approving the fiscal 2018 budgets for the three state universities. But before doing so, board members heard from the schools’ presidents about how cutbacks in state support are hampering their efforts to stay competitive. At Iowa State, faculty and staff salaries are frozen. At UNI, some adjunct faculty have been let go. Regent President Michael Richards says each school has its own challenges.

“I think we’re open to looking at what each university needs to move forward and keep progressing,” he says.

Lee Enterprises

Total revenue for Davenport-based Lee Enterprises is down for the third quarter ended June 30. The company is earning increasingly more from the digital side of newspapers.

The owner of newspapers and specialty publications in 22 states is reporting a 6.6 percent decrease in total revenue from the previous quarter. But Lee Enterprises Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mowbray says revenue from digital advertising is up nearly eight percent.

“In the June quarter, digital retail advertising represented 29.1 percent of total advertising revenue for the company,” he says.

Indian Helath Service

At least 35 people at the podiatry clinic of the Indian Health Service hospital in Winnebago, Neb., have possibly been exposed to Hepatitis and HIV. An instrument at the IHS clinic, which is near Sioux City, may not have been properly sterilized between patients. 

IHS is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides healthcare to American Indians and Native Alaskans. The Winnebago clinic serves members from the Omaha and Winnebago Tribes of Nebraska who live in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. 

Marcia Cirillo/flickr

A hard-fought race for a southeast Iowa legislative seat is entering its final days, and the topic of transgender bathroom rights has emerged as an issue in the race.     

Democrats and Republicans are both waging expensive races to fill the seat vacated with the death of Democrat Curt Hanson in House District 82. Some consider the race a bellwether for Democratic prospects after the Republican sweep of the state last fall.   

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Chemical runoff from Midwest farm fields is contributing to the largest so-called dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Scientists have mapped the size of the oxygen-deprived region in the Gulf since 1985. This year’s is estimated at more than 8,700 square miles, which is about the size of New Jersey.

 

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