IPR News Stories

In the small city of Fort Morgan, Colorado, 33-year-old Verónica delicately stacks cans of food into her mini shopping cart, strolling the narrow aisles of the Rising Up food pantry to gather eggs, milk, apples and an extra-large box of cereal.

Iowa Wind Energy Association / Facebook

Black Hawk County is moving forward with a plan to build 35 wind turbines, despite concerns from local residents. But an Iowa researcher says the impacts will likely be minimal.

John Pemble/IPR

This year’s legislative session, now in its second week of overtime, could set a new record for going beyond scheduled adjournment when one party controls the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s office.  

In remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids) said since the Iowa legislature has met annually, there have been nine times when one party controlled both the legislative and executive branches.

It’s a challenge for people with severe mental illnesses to hold down a job or get the medical help they need. And that extends to when they try to alleviate hunger by getting on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

protesters wells fargo
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Protesters targeted a Wells Fargo shareholder meeting in Des Moines Tuesday and listed several complaints against the bank that was recently hit with a $1 billion fine for loan abuses.

“We’re gonna beat back the bank attack,” chanted protesters standing in a hotel lobby below the shareholder meeting. They cheered when they learned the people in the meeting above could hear them.

Lori Young of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement—one of the groups that organized the protest—said Wells Fargo is too big.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Finance managers in the Iowa House and Senate say it is costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for the legislature to remain in session past its April 17th adjournment date.  

Those costs are expected to rise as the session may continue well into next week, even once House and Senate GOP negotiators reach agreement on taxes and budgets. 

Chief House Clerk Carmine Boal explains that lawmakers’ expense accounts expired on April 17th, the scheduled 100th day of the session, so they are no longer being paid per diem. 

Amy Mayer / IPR

The first version of the 2018 farm bill has only minor changes to one of the programs most farmers hold dear and what’s widely seen as their primary safety net: crop insurance.

The program covers all sorts of crops, “from corn to clams,” Iowa State University agriculture economist Chad Hart said. But it’s not like the types of insurance most people are familiar with.

There’s a Republican-authored proposal in the next farm bill that would require millions more people to work or volunteer in order to receive federal food assistance.

Wikimedia Commons

A stronger form of medical marijuana would become available in Iowa for a larger number of patients under a bill that advanced in the Iowa Senate today.  

It’s the second year in a row that the Senate has tried to pass a more expansive medical marijuana law than the one Gov. Branstad signed last year.   

peggy huppert and kim reynolds
Joyce Russell / IPR

Advocates for families struggling with mental illness are applauding Gov. Kim Reynolds' signing Monday of an executive order to create a new state board overseeing childhood mental illness.   

The Children’s Mental Health Board will make recommendations for a new statewide system for children who are not covered by the state program that serves adults with mental illness.  

Activists say the new program is long overdue.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the biggest federal program aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty that millions of Americans find themselves in — sometimes for a few months, sometimes for several years.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Every seat in the House and half in the Senate are up for reelection later this year.  Twenty-two legislators are choosing not to come back.  In the final days of a general assembly, many give "retirement" speeches on the floor. This week Wally Horn, Bob Dvorsky, Mark Chelgren, and Rick Bertrand are honored with Senate resolutions. 

Kate Payne

Iowa students across the state protested gun violence Friday, to mark 19 years since the Columbine shooting in Colorado. One of the demonstrations was at a gun store owned by the president of the NRA.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A gun control rally and voter registration drive was held on the west steps of the Iowa Statehouse today, part of a nationwide observance of the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings.  

A youth group known as Iowa Students United organized the rally of several hundred metro area students.      

Seventeen-year old  Tyler Juffernbruch of Norwalk said Iowa Students United came together after the February mass shooting at a Florida high school. 

He said the shootings “broke a ceiling into activism.”

Iowa State University

A football coach who led the Iowa State Cyclones, the UNI Panthers and the Arena League’s Iowa Barnstormers has died.

Earle Bruce is generally regarded as the coach who revitalized the Cyclone football program in the mid-1970s. He recorded a 36-32 record at Iowa State between 1973-1978, which included three eight-win seasons in a row and two notable victories against rival Nebraska.

John Pemble

Cathy Glasson has decades of experience working as a nurse in Iowa. She’s also served as president of the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union. Now, she’s running for governor of Iowa as a Democratic primary candidate.

This week, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters spoke with Glasson about why she’s running for office, why she believes in a statewide minimum wage of $15, and her plans for Iowa’s Medicaid and Medicare systems.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Rank and file lawmakers adjourned for the week and went home today, leaving behind key negotiators to work out a tax deal so the 2018 legislative session can come to a close. 

There is broad agreement among Republicans in the House, the Senate, and the governor’s office that income tax cuts are needed so Iowans can take full advantage of federal tax cuts.   Each of their plans provide additional tax relief beyond that, while the Senate plan cuts taxes most aggressively of the three.

Clay / Iowa Public Radio

Kyle Munson’s last day as the Iowa Columnist at the Des Moines Register is Friday. He's worked there for 24 years. He's been the Iowa Columnist for the last 8 years. Munson is leaving for a job at Principal Financial. The first person to hold the job was reporting on World War II. Munson is just the fourth columnist to hold this position.

IPR's Clay Masters spoke with Munson about the state of journalism and the role of a columnist in the changing media landscape. 

Kate Payne

This story was updated on 4/19.

Non-tenure track faculty at the University of Iowa are demanding higher pay, better benefits and more representation. Around sixty non-tenure track professors and supporters braved the weather to deliver their demands to campus administrators Wednesday.

oversight committee
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa lawmakers are looking into whether companies known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are overcharging public entities for prescription drug benefits.

The House Oversight Committee heard testimony Wednesday from Ottumwa pharmacist Mark Frahm, who said he lost money on prescription drugs he provided to the Wapello County Jail.

Frahm said CVS Caremark charged the county about $5,000 for a month’s worth of drugs, but CVS Caremark only paid Frahm about $1,000 to provide those drugs.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

John Norris is no stranger to politics. He worked as chief of staff to former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack when he was governor and secretary. Norris has also served as U.S. Minister Counselor for Agriculture to the United Nations in Rome and has served on the Iowa Utilities Board and on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Now, he’s running for Governor in Iowa.

John Pemble/IPR

Iowa’s court system could soon be filling vacant judge positions across the state that have been causing delays in court proceedings, if a proposed House GOP budget becomes law.  

To balance the budget for the fiscal year that ends in June, the courts eliminated 67 positions statewide and held open judicial vacancies for an average of one year.

Under a House GOP Judicial Branch budget that advanced this week, the court system would get a $4.3 million increase in its appropriation next year.    

Joyce Russell/IPR

There were emotional remembrances from the floor of the Iowa House and Senate Tuesday as gay and lesbian lawmakers honored Iowa civil rights activist Donna Red Wing, who died Monday at the age of 67.   

Red Wing led the advocacy organization One Iowa from 2012 to 2016, and was nationally recognized for her work on behalf of the LGBT community.      

Rep. Liz Bennett (D-Cedar Rapids) recalled her own history dealing with discrimination from a young age because of her sexual orientation.

John Fowler via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/snowpeak/27057517509/

A rollback of federal rules on migratory birds has conservationists worried. The federal government has announced it will stop prosecuting companies that accidentally kill species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They fear the changes could pave the way for industrial developments that pose a threat to the species in Iowa.

iowa senate
John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Senate adopted a new sexual harassment prevention policy Tuesday as part of its response to a high-profile $1.75 million harassment settlement against Senate Republicans.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Bare bones budgets keeping state agency funding at the levels of three years ago won preliminary approval at the statehouse today, as work began in earnest on next year’s overall state budget. 

Lawmakers from both parties expressed concern about short-staffing in public safety jobs.  

On a party-line vote, the GOP-dominated House Appropriations Committee approved what they’re calling status quo funding for the justice system, which covers highway patrol, prisons, and the state crime lab.   

John Pemble/IPR

Republicans and Democrats sparred today over GOP plans to cut income and other taxes before lawmakers wrap up their 2018 legislative session.  

Separate bills in the House and Senate would cut taxes by as much as $2 billion over five years.  

Both chambers would also increase sales taxes to help cover the cost of the income tax cuts.  

Sen. Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) is ranking Democrat on the Senate Ways and Means Committee.   Speaking on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River, she predicted low to middle income taxpayers would barely come out ahead.

Clay Masters / IPR

The Missouri River has seen several devastating floods in the past decade. Now, a federal judge says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property damage over how it handled some of these floods. The ruling has intensified a debate about how best to manage the river that runs from Montana to Missouri.

A sign on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge over the Missouri River between Council Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska calls the Big Muddy “forever changed by the power of humans.”

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

Republicans who control the Iowa House unveiled a more than $1 billion tax cut bill. And, Republicans who control the Senate have their own new $2 billion tax plan. Time is ticking on the Iowa legislative session because lawmakers’ expense accounts expire on Tuesday. IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell breaks it down. 

Amy Mayer / IPR file photo

Animal feed mixed from ingredients sourced around the world could be carrying more than the vitamins and nutrients livestock need. Seven different viruses that could cause widespread illness and big economic losses for meat producers in the United States can survive in certain imported feed products.

study published in March in the journal PLOS One looked at 11 viruses that are not yet in the U.S. but infect herds in other places, such as African swine fever and foot and mouth disease.

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