IPR News Stories

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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