State agencies

Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa poultry producers are on the alert for a possible reoccurrence of the deadly avian flu which decimated flocks last year.  

The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is taking steps to more efficiently euthanize birds if the disease strikes again.    

The agency helped coordinate the statewide response last year.   That included hauling water to affected areas to create the foam to kill birds, and coordinating hazardous materials teams for cleanup. 

Jason Parrott/Tri States Public Radio

Oversight committees in the Iowa House and Senate are working on bills to ensure that alleged abuse at a private boarding school in southeast Iowa never happens again.   

Midwest Academy was shut down after a raid by local, state and federal officials.     

At a statehouse hearing, lawmakers grilled representatives of two state agencies about how they might have prevented the alleged abuse.  

Photo by Sack Pephirom

Thousands of crows are befouling pathways and windows at the Iowa Capitol, and officials who oversee the capitol grounds have called in outside help.    

Janet Phipps at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services says the problem is not new, but it is worse this year than in past years.

Phipps says the USDA Wildlife Service has helped downtown Des Moines get rid of its black birds, and they’ve roosted at the capitol instead.

“USDA assists in that so we are in touch with USDA about chasing them somewhere else,” Phipps said.

Russell/IPR

After a vigorous debate, a state board today voted not to try to recover nearly half-a-million dollars in unemployment benefits that mistakenly went out to workers two years ago because of a technical malfunction at Iowa Workforce Development  

The former director of the state agency that distributes unemployment benefits came under harsh criticism today at a meeting of the board of directors for IWD.

John Pemble/IPR

After months of discussion, out of state for-profit companies now have the go-ahead to take over Iowa’s Medicaid program for the poor and disabled on April 1st.  

The Branstad administration Tuesday received word of approval from the federal government though the date was once again delayed.  

In December, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services delayed implementation from January 1st to March 1st, stating that key requirements on 16 action items were not met, including adequate provider networks to serve Iowa’s more than 500,000  Medicaid patients. 

iprimages

The director of an embattled state agency took questions this week from statehouse Democrats over nearly one million dollars in improper payments of unemployment benefits.     

State Auditor Mary Mosiman reports that Iowa Workforce Development sent benefits to applicants who claimed to work for companies that didn’t exist.

In addition, legitimate recipients received 700,000 dollars in overpayments.  

Waterloo Democrat Bill Dotzler says some workers came forward and reported that there had been a mistake.

flickr

Iowa Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer says the state is proceeding with a controversial plan to privatize the state’s health care program for the poor and disabled, in spite of a legal challenge by unsuccessful bidders for the contract. 

An administrative law judge will rule on complaints of irregularities in the choice of four companies to manage the more than four-billion dollar Medicaid program.     

Palmer says they’re proceeding with what they know.

“We'll operate from whatever we need to in response to that decision,” Palmer says.  

Joyce Russell/IPR

A statehouse committee spent the day Tuesday hearing about what’s being called a massive change in how health care in Iowa is delivered to the poor and disabled. 

Private companies are scheduled to take over management of the state-federal health care program known as Medicaid which serves more than 560-thousand Iowans.  

Critics worry about the effect on the state’s most vulnerable populations.  

Hades 2K/flickr

Some Iowa consumers have gone without landline phone service for weeks at a time this summer, and the Iowa Office of Consumer Advocate is requesting proceedings against the CenturyLink phone company. 

Between August 24 and September 11th, the office received eight complaints of repair delays ranging from ten days to, in one case, more than a month.  

Consumer Advocate Mark Schuling has asked the Iowa Utilities board to consolidate the cases to speed things up.

Kenneth Mertes

Many scientists believe that Earth is in the midst of a sixth great extinction. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, threats to biodiversity in the Midwest.

The National Guard

Recent clashes between police and civilians in Ferguson, Missouri have led local community members to consider the military-style equipment given to local police departments.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

In this ‘digital age,’ from telephones to newspapers, there’s a rare magazine that is flourishing as a hard copy edition. Of all places, it is published by state government. We go inside Iowa Outdoors.

Jim Pease

So far this summer, wildlife biologist Jim Pease has paddled hundreds of miles down Iowa’s waterways to gather biological data for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Today on Talk of Iowa, he shares his experience.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

It was 60 years ago when mental health professionals welcomed a new option for their patients. Instead of radical brain surgery and dangerous forms of shock treatment, doctors could prescribe a simple oral medication for the first time. An Iowa woman was a nurse during this crucial turning point and IPR’s Rick Fredericksen has her story. 

Iowa Department of Public Safety

In 1935 fifty men were sworn in as the first officers of the Iowa Highway Safety Patrol.

keeva999 / flickr

The EPA sets regulations for 6 sources of air pollution, but there are hundreds of pollutants known to the EPA that go unregulated.

Alex Heuer

In Fort Madison, 550 inmates were scheduled to be transferred to a new $132 million state maximum security  prison - that was three months ago.

Emily Woodbury

Many of this year’s blockbusters, video games, and books are set in post-apocalyptic worlds - a growing trend in the past few years.

Today on River To River, we take a look at why this is such a common theme. Host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowans who are prepared to face an apocalyptic scenario, and he sits down with an Iowa Homeland Security representative, to find out how prepared the state of Iowa is for disaster.

Emily Woodbury

Iowa is the second most privately owned state in the U.S., so land preserved on its public parks is particularly special. Today on River to River –  the future of Iowa’s parks.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Happy Friday! Here's your news buzz wrap-up for the week...

Joyce Russell, IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent, recaps the 2014 Iowa legislative session:

Paul Sleeper, Fisheries Biologist for Iowa DNR, explains that fishy smell near your lakes and ponds:

Markus Ortner

In a four to one vote in Council Bluffs, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission rejected a $174-million proposal for a casino in downtown Cedar Rapids. Commissioner Dolores Mertz of Algona cast the lone “yes” vote.

Commission Chair Jeff Lamberti said approving the Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC request, “Would be a significant precedent,” that he wasn’t willing to take. 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

From radical brain surgery, to drug therapy and meditation, Iowa veterans have done it all while coping with mental illness in the aftermath of war. Treatments have come a long way since lobotomies were performed on World War II vets in Knoxville.  

See the Wall Street Journal investigation

Frederic Rivollier

"Since the beginning of 2013, there has been a huge increase in the sale of really simple UAV systems," says Rory Paul, CEO of Volt Aerial Robotics, based in Chesterfield, Missouri.

With their ability to take high definition photo and video footage, UAVs (known as "unmanned aerial vehicles" or drones) bring up a number of security concerns, and they also have the potential to be put to good use. The Iowa legislature is currently considering ways to regulate these vehicles; so today on River to River, we analyze this legislation.

Emily Woodbury / IPR

Today on Talk of Iowa, we wrap up our corrections series with a conversation on the programs offered to incarcerated offenders. Host Charity Nebbe learns about how these programs are designed for treatment, recovery, rehab, and enrichment. And, she inquires into the effectiveness of these programs towards lowering the recidivism rate.

Emily Woodbury / IPR

Prison inmates have a lot of time to think. Some offenders take comfort in their faith, for others it’s a time to explore a new belief system. Today on Talk of Iowa: spirituality behind bars.

Host Charity Nebbe finds out what the Department of Corrections does to meet the spiritual needs of inmates, and she listens to stories from those who have worked in Iowa Prisons, including a pastor, a rabbi, an imam, and a Native American spiritual guide. A former offender joins the conversation as well, to speak to her experience finding religion while incarcerated.

Emily Woodbury / IPR

When a parent is sent to prison, the lives of his or her children are changed forever. Today on Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on parents in prison. Maintaining and creating healthy bonds, and breaking the cycle of incarceration.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

As we continue our series on corrections in Iowa…here's the second half of our report on sex offender treatment and monitoring.  

About 1 in 8 inmates in Iowa's prison system are sex offenders, and many go through treatment while in prison.  But does it work?

Emily Woodbury / IPR

In our society when you break the law you will be punished, but our prison system is supposed to be about more than retribution.  Today on Talk of Iowa, we begin our summer series exploring Iowa’s correctional system with a conversation about the purpose of prison… punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation.

Emily Woodbury

Many of this summer’s blockbusters are set in a post-apocalyptic world, including “This is the end”, “World War Z”, “After Earth”, and “Elysium”.

Today on River To River, we take a look at why this is such a common theme this year. Host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowans who are prepared to face an apocalyptic scenario, and he sits down with an Iowa Homeland Security rep, to find out how prepared the state of Iowa is for disaster.

John Pemble / IPR

At least one state senator is calling for the person in charge of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown to step down so a more thorough investigation can be conducted. This follows repeated complaints over management of the Veterans home. The Senate Veterans Affairs committee held a meeting Monday  to hear testimony. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

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