IPR News Stories

reynolds and gregg
Katarina Sostaric/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds and acting Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg traveled across Iowa Friday on their "Building a Better Iowa" tour. Reynolds became the state’s first female governor on Wednesday. 

At a stop in Cedar Rapids, Reynolds emphasized four priorities: tax reform to encourage business growth, energy policy innovation, STEM education and workforce training.

"I want you to know that while we're proud of what we've been able to do over the last six years, we know that our job is far from done," Reynolds says. "We have a lot of work left to do."

Joyce Russell/IPR

One difference is emerging in the workday customs of new Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and her predecessor Terry Branstad.  

Instead of working in a private office on the ground floor of the capitol, Reynolds will conduct daily business in the governor’s more public and expansive formal office upstairs.  

In recent administrations the formal office has been the setting for receptions and bill-signings, but Reynolds plans to work there every day.

USDA

In her address after being sworn in Wednesday, Governor Kim Reynolds highlighted the importance of high-speed internet being available in all parts of the state, regardless of a community's size and location. 

"A connected community means better jobs, safer communities, better education and a better quality of life," said the governor. "And it really is the expectation of our young people." 

A significant amount of money is likely needed to make this goal a reality in rural parts of the state.

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

At the public library in the rural Morgan County town of Brush, Colorado, Marissa Velazquez welcomes her students to class. It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and today marks the halfway point in Velazquez’s class, a ten-week crash course on American history, civics and English.

Everyone in it has the same goal: become an American citizen. In two hours, Velazquez runs through voting rights, the legislative process and some grammar tips.

Jon Pemble/IPR file

In a unanimous ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court says sentencing a juvenile to lifetime parole is not a cruel and unusual punishment.

When he was a 17-year-old, Bradley Graham committed statutory rape by having sex with a 13-year-old. In addition to incarceration, Graham was given a lifetime sentence of parole.

Graham says the lifetime aspect of his punishment is cruel and unusual, because he was a juvenile when he committed the crime.

Joyce Russell/IPR

On her first full day in office, Gov. Kim Reynolds today named an acting lieutenant governor to serve with her as she completes the last 20 months of Gov. Terry Branstad’s term.  

But to comply with an attorney general’s ruling, the new appointee will not officially hold the office and will not become governor if Reynolds should be unable to serve.   

michael richards
Dean Borg / IPR

Iowa's Board of Regents will allow public comments at its regular meetings starting next month. 

The first opportunity for public comment will be at the regents' June 8 meeting in Cedar Falls. That is when the board is scheduled to take a final vote on tuition increases for the upcoming school year.

Regent Michael Richards directed staff to develop a "pilot program" for taking public comment when he was elected board president earlier this month.

John Pemble/IPR

Kimberly Kay Reynolds officially became Iowa’s 43rd governor and the state’s first female chief executive in formal ceremonies at the statehouse Wednesday. 

First, Governor Branstad had to formally resign.

“I’m pleased to present my letter of resignation as I prepare for this exciting new adventure as Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China,” Branstad said in a ceremony in his formal office.      

Then the attention shifted to the statehouse rotunda where Chief Justice Mark Cady delivered the oath of office to Reynolds before invited guests and friends.    

Iowa State University news service

A researcher at Iowa State University has been looking into the lasting effects traumatic events can have on children. The results from his study apply to the aftermath of natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, and terrorist attacks, such as the one this week in Manchester, England.

John Pemble/IPR

Kim Reynolds was sworn in this morning as Iowa’s 43rd governor, shortly after the resignation of Terry Branstad, the state’s – and the country’s – longest-serving governor.  Branstad this morning was sworn in as the new U.S. Ambassador to China. 

Reynolds is the first woman to hold the office of Iowa governor, but in a speech following her swearing-in at the Capitol, she said she wants to accomplish more than that while in office.  Reynolds outlined four priorities for her administration, all aimed at improving Iowa’s economy and job growth. 

Cattle ranchers have spent years battling big meat companies, saying the companies have too much market power. Now, those ranchers worry that a Trump Administration move to delay federal rules that would make it easier for them lodge complaints about unfair treatment may spell the end of the new rules altogether. But the industry is divided by the government’s move to make sure meat companies play fair with farmers.

VictoryVR

Students at Davenport Assumption High School are discovering a new tool for exploring careers in the STEM fields. They can now take a virtual reality tour of sites where people in STEM-related professions work.

The phone-based virtual reality mobile app allows students to view interviews of people from around the country who are working at science, technology, engineering or math jobs. Assumption science teacher Wendy Martin says it’s not like watching television. She says when the students put on the special goggles, they join the action.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov.Terry  Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday held the final statehouse news conference of Branstad’s long career,  outlining plans for official swearing-in ceremonies on Wednesday.

Branstad will resign from office and be sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to China.   Then Reynolds will be sworn in as the 43rd governor of Iowa.    

At the news conference, Reynolds thanked the governor for their years of service together

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

President Donald Trump has sent a proposed budget to Congress that includes slashing $38 billion from farm bill programs, including crop insurance and nutrition supports, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says reducing crop insurance subsidies would leave taxpayers on the hook to pay for farm damages from natural disasters.

Screenshot from CPSAN

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has been confirmed as the next U-S ambassador to China.  The U-S Senate voted 82-13 Monday to make his appointment official.  Before the vote, Senator Chuck Grassley said Branstad has already been an ambassador his whole career.

“As governor, he’s been vigorous in promoting our state’s economy and opening markets for our farm commodities, financial service and our manufacturing to the world marketplace,” Grassley said.

Flickr / Carl Wycoff

The city of Des Moines is hoping a new, nearly $50,000 pot of money will convince reluctant witnesses to help police with unsolved homicides. 

In the past two years a dozen of homicides remain unsolved, and this year the city is seeing a sharp increase in these crimes. Des Moines has recorded 15 homicides this year, and  is on track to surpass 1978’s record of 27. 

The cash comes from local businesses like Prairie Meadows Casino and Hotel, as well as the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Polk County Board of Supervisors.

Dean Borg/IPR file photo

Iowa farmers had only two days suitable for field work during the past week, and grain traders are taking notice by bidding up prices.

The USDA’s Monday afternoon crop update says corn planting – 92% of Iowa’s acreage planted -- is only three days behind last year’s pace.

But cool temperatures and continuing rain are affecting the corn plants.  USDA is rating one-quarter of Iowa’s corn acreage as fair-to-very-poor condition.

As the Trump administration takes the initial steps toward renegotiating one of the country’s most influential and controversial trade deals, groups that represent farmers and ranchers are already waving a caution sign.

President Trump has made it clear: he wants changes to NAFTA -- the North American Free Trade Agreement. The wheels of renegotiation are in motion after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to Congressional leaders indicating that intention. The president is required to give Congress 90 days notice before opening up trade talks.

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

Rural voters overwhelmingly chose President Donald Trump in the presidential election. But when it comes to the central campaign promise to get tough on trade, rural voters are not necessarily in sync with the administration.

The University of Iowa Athletics Department has settled a discrimination case with its former field hockey coach.

Tracey Griesbaum was fired in 2014 over complaints about her coaching that a university investigation failed to confirm. She sued the department on grounds of gender and sexual orientation discrimination and her case was scheduled to go to trial in June.

Earlier this month, a related trial involving a former UI athletics administrator ended with a jury awarding Jane Meyer $874-thousand in back wages plus $1.4 million in damages.

Flickr / Steve

A new study from Iowa State University finds that people who are the victims of workplace bullying often receive unhelpful advice about how to deal with the harassment.

ISU communication studies researcher Stacy Tye-Williams found the most frequent piece of advice victims receive from family and friends is to quit their jobs, which is financially impractical. People were also often counseled to ignore or to stand up to the bully. 

dubuque
SD Dirk / flickr

The Iowa Economic Development Authority has awarded about $2 million in incentives to retain 200 manufacturing jobs in Dubuque.

With city and county contributions, the Friday decision brings the total incentive package for furniture manufacturer Flexsteel Industries to more than $10 million.

The incentives will help Flexsteel demolish and clean up the site of its current plant in Dubuque, and build a new plant at a different site. The company announced last year it would close its plant in Dubuque and look for a new site.

Urbandale and Des Moines police departments

The man charged in the ambush killings of two Des Moines-area police officers is withdrawing his not guilty pleas. Scott Greene now admits to killing Urbandale police officer Justin Martin and Des Moines sergeant Tony Beminio last November. Polk County Attorney John Sarcone says writings and drawings on Greene’s jail cell walls following his arrest tied him to the case.

“They are essentially admissions of his responsibility in this matter," he says. "He drew pictures of each officers face.”

pills and money
Images Money / flickr

Iowans will rally in seven cities this weekend to ask for "Medicare for All." 

The rallies will call on the federal government to offer Medicare—the healthcare plan for people over age 65—to all Americans. It's a response to ongoing problems with the affordability of health insurance and efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Iowa’s Planned Parenthood affiliate is closing four clinics. It says this move is the result of a new state law that prevents organizations that provide abortions from receiving family planning money from Medicaid.

The Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City clinics will close on June 30. The Quad Cities facility in Bettendorf will remain open until the building is sold, though only telemed abortion services will be provided. All other types of appointments will cease at the end of June.

Amy Mayer/IPR

A leading research center focused on local farmers and environmental conservation is hanging on by a thread, even as the movement to diversify agriculture, which it helped launch, continues to thrive.

Flickr / wabisabi2015

Every school day at 7:30 am, fifth-grader Ava Perrett catches the first of two bright yellow buses that drive her to the Greene County Intermediate School in Grand Junction.

Due to a 2014 consolidation, the Greene County Community School District is the state’s eighth largest in geographic size. It spans 388 square miles. So it’s a good thing Ava says she usually doesn’t mind riding the bus.

“But sometimes it takes a while,” she says. “When we’re switching buses it gets really cold out when we’re waiting for the buses.”

iprimages

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has asked the FBI for copies of memos that may exist documenting conversations former director James Comey had with his superiors in the Trump administration.   

That follows reports suggesting the president may have tried to influence an FBI probe.

The New York Times reports that Comey created memos regarding his interactions with the president, documenting what he perceived as improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation.    

Mercy Medical Center

Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines is receiving the go-ahead to start a psychiatric residency program. The hospital hopes to fill the void of behavioral health providers in the state.

Mercy has been approved to begin a four-year residency program in psychiatry, and is recruiting the first class of four doctors to begin in 2018. Iowa ranks 47th among states in the number of practicing psychiatrists per capita. The medical director of behavioral health at Mercy, Dr. Sasha Khosravi, estimates there are more than 120,000 Iowans with serious mental illness.

President Trump made campaign promises to pull the U.S. out of big international trade deals and focus instead on one-on-one agreements with other countries. But that has farmers worried they will lose some of the $135 billion in goods they sold overseas last year.

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