IPR News Stories

Creighton University

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index is pointing to solid economic gains ahead. Inflation is also soaring.

The monthly report from Creighton University is at a healthy 58.2, above the growth neutral mark of 50 for the tenth straight month. The man who compiles the survey of supply managers in nine states, economist Ernie Goss, says he’s keeping an eye on job numbers released later this week to see what they say about wage increases.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

The deadline to submit renewal applications for the program known as DACA is Thursday, but some people may be struggling to find enough money for the application fee.

Last month President Trump decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, though he’s allowing one final renewal for people whose waivers are set to expire by next March. This Obama-era policy allows people who were brought to the country illegally as children to live and work in the U.S. for a two-year renewable period.

Greater Dubuque Development Corp.

Work begins today on construction of a large manufacturing plant in Dubuque. The project will keep one of the city’s top employers in town.

Ground is being broken this morning on Flexsteel Industries’ $25 million facility that the manufacturer announced it would build earlier this year. The new plant will sit on 22 acres in the Dubuque Industrial Center South.

In the summer of 2002, water pumps in Colorado’s San Luis Valley stopped working.

The center pivot sprinklers that coax shoots from the dry soil and turn the valley into one of the state’s most productive agricultural regions strained so hard to pull water from an underground aquifer that they created sunken pits around them.

“This one right over here,” says potato farmer Doug Messick as he walks toward a sprinkler, near the town of Center. He's the farm manager for the valley's Spud Grower Farms. “I came up to it one day and I could’ve driven my pickup in that hole.”

Flickr / Jim Forest

Some of the brightest stars from Iowa City’s literary community will give readings at the Englert Theatre on Sunday afternoon to raise money for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and the Virgin Islands.

All money raised will go directly to the American Red Cross. Tickets are by donation, with the suggested level of $10. Readings will be given by more than a dozen writers, including Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson, Iowa’s first poet laureate Marvin Bell and Lan Samantha Chang, who is the director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A settlement has been reached in a sexual harassment lawsuit against Republicans in the Iowa Senate.  

In graphic testimony before a Polk County jury earlier this year, former Senate GOP Communications Director Kirsten Anderson described what she called a “toxic” work environment, and claimed she was fired for complaining about explicit sexual comments.

The jury sided with the plaintiff, awarding Anderson $2.2 million.    

Defendants sought a new trial. 

Now the litigation will end. 

Grinnell College

The annual Grinnell Innovator in Social Justice Prize is going to a woman who advocates for other women who have loved ones in prison. 

Harvard-educated attorney and activist Gina Clayton is the founder of the Essie Justice Group. Named for Clayton’s great grandmother, the organization supports women with incarcerated loved ones and helps them push for criminal justice reform.

She will receive the $100,000 Grinnell Prize during on-campus ceremonies Tuesday. Two women who are graduates of the program will join her.

U.S. Court for the Southern District of Iowa

The federal government is starting over in its search for a site to build a federal courthouse in Des Moines. 

The U.S. General Services Administration had selected a vacant lot on the west bank of the Des Moines River downtown for the $137 million project. It’s where the old YMCA once sat.

City leaders opposed the decision, saying they preferred a commercial development for the spot, one that would generate tax revenue.

Dean Borg/IPR

Casino operators and supporters from Eastern Iowa communities where the casinos are located don’t want Iowa’s Racing and Gaming Commission to license new competition in Cedar Rapids.

During a Tuesday public hearing on three requests to establish gambling in downtown Cedar Rapids, casino representatives from Waterloo, Bettendorf, Dubuque, Riverside, and Tama all said another casino would cannibalize business from their operations. They contend Iowa’s gaming market is saturated.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Lawsuits brought by farmers against one of the world’s leading seed companies will end in settlements.

 

stevepb/CC0CreativeCommons

The first test of Iowa’s new collective bargaining law concluded yesterday, with recertification votes ending for 13 Iowa schools and community colleges.   

When ballots were all counted, bargaining units in all 13 schools were recertified with nearly 1300 teachers and faculty overwhelmingly endorsing their union representation.

The new law set a high bar for teachers to continue to be represented by unions.   In the end more than 1100 yes votes were cast, with only 27 teachers voting no.  

doctors office
Jennifer Morrow / flickr

Iowa's Planned Parenthood affiliate is ending its Affordable Care Act navigator program that helps Iowans sign up for health insurance after federal officials cut the organization’s navigator grant by 84 percent.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland was the biggest of Iowa’s three ACA navigator programs. At least 50 counties in Iowa will lose federally-funded assistance with health insurance sign-up as a result of the cut.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection / WIKICOMMONS

Along with overwhelming destruction, Hurricane Maria has brought renewed attention to the US government's role in Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

For years the US territory had been prohibited from restricting its debt through bankruptcy proceedings, which made the island’s economic woes worse. Last year's passage of the Promesa Act gave Puerto Rico protections from debtors and an avenue towards debt restructuring. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A state official  overseeing the massive rewrite of Iowa’s collective bargaining statute for public workers  says he expects the courts may have to weigh in if employees lose their  union representation in first-ever recertification voting.   

The new law requires all public employee bargaining units to periodically vote to continue to be represented by unions.    

The Public Employment Relations Board is advising workers that if the vote fails, the contract with their employer goes away.   

But board chair Mike Cormack says not everyone agrees.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Kim Reynolds today reacted with emotion to the ongoing controversy involving NFL players kneeling rather than standing during the playing of the national anthem.  

The protest has grown as more players express opposition to racial injustice and police brutality across the country. 

The Associated Press reported that on Sunday, over 200 athletes declined to stand, while others locked arms with them in solidarity.  Others declined to come out on the field for pre-game ceremonies.

Iowa State University
Wikimedia Commons

Iowa’s public universities are asking the state for a $12 million funding increase next fiscal year. The additional money would be committed to resident undergraduate student financial aid.

The request is intended to help with some of the tuition increases that Iowa’s public universities proposed this summer. State-level cuts to higher education funding triggered those proposals.

Jon S/Flickr

The owners of the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald newspaper are expanding their holdings of community newspapers. Woodward Communications, which publishes Dubuque’s daily newspaper as well as weekly newspapers in Dyersville, Manchester and Cascade, is acquiring West  Branch Communications, co-owned by Jake Krob of Mount Vernon and Stuart Clark of West Branch.  The sale includes several publications.

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

The fifth annual Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award is going to the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines. The Most Reverend Richard Pates is being recognized for his efforts to fight hunger at home and abroad.

Bishop Pates served a year-long term as chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This role took him on diplomatic missions to Cuba, Iran, and the conflicted-area between Israel and Palestine. He says this work is meant to build bridges.

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Tim Day / WIKICOMMONS

The Iowa National Guard is sending 24 airmen to Puerto Rico tomorrow morning to help with response to Hurricane Maria by assisting local law enforcement. 

Iowa National Guard spokesman Colonel Greg Hapgood says it’s rare to deploy airmen solely for security assistance. Usually a mission’s focus is something like transportation or water purification. But due to the catastrophic devastation in Puerto Rico, Hapgood says security assistance is key towards stabilizing the U.S. territory. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

Teachers in some Iowa school districts and community colleges will find out this week whether they will continue to be represented by a union.  

It’s part of Iowa’s new collective bargaining law that makes it harder for public sector unions to operate in the state.    

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Sen. Joni Ernst told a loud crowd at the University of Iowa that it’s unlikely the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will come up for a vote.

The audience cheered when Ernst said the Graham-Cassidy bill likely won't go to a vote before a Sept. 30 procedural deadline. Sen. John McCain of Arizona announced his opposition to the bill shortly before Ernst’s appearance in Iowa City.

An audience member asked Ernst if the bill could "spring back to life."

Ernst said she can’t answer that.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Even as wind energy production has grown in recent years to be a large part of the country’s energy portfolio, a chill around federal funding for renewable energy has researchers increasingly turning to industry partners to bring the next generation of innovation to the marketplace.

 

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Iowa Public Information Board, which oversees openness in Iowa government, is itself embroiled in a struggle over a secret meeting it held this summer.      

The nine-member board voted Thursday not to release a recording of the meeting, which disappointed some advocates for transparency in government.  

The controversy stems from a controversial open records case the board is handling. 

Interested parties want the Burlington Police Department to release body camera video from a 2015 fatal police shooting. 

ACLU of Iowa

The ACLU of Iowa is filing a lawsuit to challenge the Iowa Department of Human Services’ ban on Medicaid coverage for transition-related medical care for transgender Iowans. The civil rights group says the ban is based on outdated assumptions about the nature of transgender health care.

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of two clients – EerieAnna Good of the Quad Cities and Carol Ann Beal of northwest Iowa. Beal says she began taking hormone therapy when she was 14 and has lived as a woman since. She says she joined the suit because someone needed to be a trailblazer.

IPR/Pat Blank

The nonprofit organization Joppa continues to receive tiny houses for its proposed community village for the homeless in Des Moines. Earlier this month, three of the shelters built by Drake University alumni, students and volunteers were donated. Three more are on their way to the capital city from the University of Northern Iowa.

UNI Senior Baily Abbott says he jumped at the chance to get hands-on experience helping build the houses.

Wartburg College

After 166 years of offering only undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts, Wartburg College is beginning a master’s program in 2018. The first graduate-level degree for the school in Waverly will be in music therapy.

Image courtesy of North End Update

Every Friday at 4PM, North End Update's live Facebook show shares good news about an area of Waterloo that normally is portrayed in a negative light. Upon tuning in, you hear their signature "Boomshakalaka!"

Joshalyn “Rocki” Johnson and Cheryl “Chaveevah” Banks Ferguson are the duo behind the show. 

Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers

Students at Grinnell College are looking to expand the reach of the nation’s only independent undergraduate student workers union. They want the labor organization representing dining hall workers to cover all student workers on campus.

The Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers has negotiated contracts for undergraduate dining hall workers since the spring of 2015. In that time, it says wages have increased 12 percent. A spokesman for the union, Carter Howe, says now is the time to represent all student workers on Grinnell’s campus.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Kim Reynolds administration is closing the books on the fiscal year that ended in June, and, as predicted, revenues fell short of what was needed to cover all the spending the legislature approved.  

But the shortfall wasn’t as bad as feared, and the governor won’t be calling lawmakers back into special session.  

At the end of June, the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimated that tax receipts had fallen more than $100 million short, far more than the governor could cover with emergency funds.  

Jasper County Sheriff's Department photo

The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday evening in a case that looks at how far a person’s right to privacy extends during a warrantless search by law enforcement.

In October 2015, Bion Ingram was driving a car that wasn’t his. When he was pulled over by a Jasper County Sheriff’s deputy, the deputy noticed the registration did not correspond to the car’s license plate.

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