IPR News Stories

Screenshot: Iowa Public Television's "Greetings From Iowa"

Iowa Public Television has unveiled their new digital-first series "Greetings from Iowa."  In this Talk of Iowa conversation, host Charity Nebbe talks with IPTV Producer/Director Tyler Brinegar who developed the series and IPTV's Digital Content Manager Taylor Shore.  

John Pemble / IPR

If Governor Terry Branstad is confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to China, that will make Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds the next governor. Attorney General Tom Miller issued an opinion this week concluding Reynolds should not appoint a new lieutenant governor when she assumes the state’s highest job. Reynolds is disappointed with the attorney general contradicting his informal opinion he made last year. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters sat down with Lt.

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

Cedar Rapids is appealing a judge’s ruling that the Iowa Department of Transportation can order the city to remove some highway speed cameras.

The city has stopped issuing speeding tickets from cameras on I-380 but is requesting a stay of the order to remove those cameras.

Cedar Rapids spokeswoman Maria Johnson says city attorneys felt the need to act immediately.

DOC SEARLS

Iowa is making improvements on alcohol use, but still has a ways to go when it comes to bullying. That’s according to the director of the recent Iowa Youth Survey, which samples 6th, 8th and 11th graders every two years.  

In 2016 youth drinking in Iowa continued to decline, especially among 11th graders.

In 2012, more than 26.4 percent of high school juniors reported having a drink in the past 30 days. In 2016 this number dropped to 21.3 percent.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Governor Terry Branstad will go before a Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing this morning to become the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Back in 2010, he campaigned for the governorship again on a promise to add 200,000 jobs in Iowa.  We wanted to follow up on that campaign goal with Iowa State University Economist Dave Swenson, who says a governor really doesn’t have much control over gross job gains. 

groundwater sensor
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A helicopter towing a large sensor will fly low over Cedar Rapids this week as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s effort to map the city’s groundwater supply.

The City of Cedar Rapids can use that information to plan for changes in the Cedar River aquifer and make more informed decisions about water resource development.

Cedar Rapids Utilities Engineering Manager Bruce Jacobs says declining water levels in wells during the 2012 drought led to this effort to better understand the aquifer.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

In a surprise formal opinion issued today, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller concluded that Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds should not appoint a new lieutenant governor when she assumes the state’s highest office.   

The opinion contradicts an informal opinion from Miller last year.   

Republicans are sharply critical of the new advice.

In December, Miller’s office said it had researched Iowa law and consulted with the governor’s office.

WIKICOMMONS / Holger.Ellgaard

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office says that for once, a caller claiming to be working on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service may not be a scammer, but instead a legitimate private debt contractor. 

Last month the IRS Private Debt Collection Program went into effect. Congress enacted the law in 2015, authorizing the federal agency to use private collections firms to call people who owe overdue taxes.

The debts targeted in this program are older, past-due balances the IRS is no longer actively seeking to collect.

kids share delmar books
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

As Iowa’s metropolitan areas continue to grow, many small towns across the state are losing people and businesses.

In eastern Iowa, a town of about 500 people is making a more creative attempt at reversing that trend by using an oral history project to stimulate development. Delmar has paired up its youngest and oldest residents to explore how the community’s past and shared values may help shape its future.

In downtown Delmar, the storefronts are empty, paint is peeling off the buildings, and a quiet park has replaced the train tracks that used to dominate the town.

The abortion-access advocacy organization NARAL Pro-Choice America is urging Gov. Terry Branstad to veto legislation it says threatens women's health and plays politics with women's lives.

Senate File 471 requires women to wait three days before receiving an abortion and have an ultrasound before the procedure. It also bans abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy. 

"There is still time for the governor to do the right thing," says NARAL's James Owens. "This bill introduced ideology into the doctor’s room and tries to shame women away from accessing basic healthcare." 

traffic camera
Adrian Pingstone / Wikipedia

Cedar Rapids is considering whether to appeal a ruling by an Iowa judge in a lawsuit over highway speed cameras. It affirms the Iowa Department of Transportation’s right to order the removal of some cameras.

Mayor Ron Corbett says attorneys are taking a few days to review the judge's ruling. 

"The Cedar Rapids City Council will probably decide at their next council meeting whether we want to join Des Moines and Muscatine and appeal the case," Corbett says.

Cedar Rapids takes in more revenue from traffic cameras than any other city in the state. 

New U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday explained President Donald Trump’s turn-around on the North American Free Trade Agreement as just part of the negotiations in his deal making.

iowa city
Kris / flickr

Iowa City has been selected to host a meeting of the world’s UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Delegates from all over the world will be in town for a three-day meeting in 2018. Past meetings have been held in Barcelona, Dublin and Heidelberg, Germany.

City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon says it’s an opportunity to show off Iowa City and highlight what makes it a City of Literature.

WIKICOMMONS / Kevin Schuchmann

Iowans are being encouraged to clean out their medicine cabinets this Saturday by taking unwanted and expired medications to more than 100 disposal sites.

Pushed by worker advocates and growing consumer awareness, Tyson Foods on Wednesday promised better conditions for workers at its meat processing plants.

John Pemble / IPR

The first half of the 87th General Assembly ends Saturday morning, April 22nd, at 7:15. The chambers are mostly silent as amendments and budget bills are finalized in committees. In the middle of the night, House leaders give their sine die speeches a few hours before adjournment. By daybreak, debate begins for the last bills of the session. One expands medical marijuana and the other is the standing appropriations budget bill.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Reported cases of gonorrhea infections in Iowa are up more than 75 percent in the last three years, according to preliminary data from the Iowa Department of Public Health. The department says while Iowa's overall infection rate isn't unusual, the sudden increase in infections from 2013 is unique. 

IDPH STD program manager George Walton says part of the reason for this increase is that providers are conducting more comprehensive testing, which has identified cases that would have otherwise gone undetected. 

Fredrik Rubensson / Flickr

In 1964, just weeks away from graduating from Grinnell College, Dennis Maulsby decided his best option after college would be to voluntarily enter the military. After returning from the Vietnam War almost five years later, he channeled his war experiences into various creative outlets, ultimately pursuing writing poetry. He self-published his first book, Remembering Willy, and All the Others, and received silver medal awards from veterans associations. His latest book, Free Fire Zone is a collection of short military stories.

Amy Mayer/IPR

For 10 years a program from Iowa State University has helped prepare first-time candidates to run for political office. It’s held during odd years and this year’s program has attracted a record number of participants.

Three day-long programs in Ames are offering tips and tools for running a campaign and getting elected, from fundraising and campaign finance rules to communication strategies and social media.

jones and mitchell dash cam
YouTube

The City of Cedar Rapids and a police officer are denying all allegations in a lawsuit over a police shooting that left a man paralyzed from the neck down. 

In responses filed last week, the City of Cedar Rapids and police officer Lucas Jones state they are not liable for injuries or damages to Jerime Mitchell and his wife.

Mitchell sued the city and Jones after Jones shot him during a traffic stop last November.

Polaris Industries Facebook

More than 300 people in northwest Iowa are getting laid off, now that Polaris Industries is shifting production of all-terrain and utility vehicles to Alabama, Minnesota and California.

The company says the layoffs at its Milford facility are the result of an effort to streamline plant infrastructure.

Milford is a town of fewer than 3,000 people and Polaris is the community's biggest employer. Mayor Bill Reinsbach says layoffs will hurt the local economy. 

Pat Blank/IPR

Forty-three year old Diana Staver worked on the assembly line at a John Deere factory in Waterloo. When she got her pink slip in 2015, she wasted no time in figuring out what her next move would be.

“I got the layoff notice and when I got the layoff notice, I just dreaded going out and finding another job so I came to Hawkeye [Community College] that same afternoon I was here by 8:15 in the morning I wanna say and they weren’t quite open”, Staver explained.

tom miller
Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa’s attorney general is joining colleagues from several other states in urging the president and congressional leaders to maintain funding for drug treatment in their effort to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

The 20 attorneys general say changes to certain ACA provisions could eliminate billions of dollars of funding for drug treatment in the midst of an opioid epidemic.

NASA

Astronaut and Iowa native Peggy Whitson has set a U.S. record for space travel.  Today is her 535th cumulative day in space, one day longer than the record previously held by astronaut Jeff Williams. Whitson is currently commanding the International Space Station, and this morning took a congratulatory phone call from President Donald Trump. 

“That’s an incredible record to break,” Trump said via a video link from the Oval Office.  “On behalf of our nation and, frankly, on behalf of the world, I’d like to congratulate you.  That is really something.”

Joyce Russell/IPR

In a heated exchange with reporters, Governor Branstad today defended GOP lawmakers for approving $150,000 in transition expenses for Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds as she assumes the governorship.      

Democrats called the appropriation extravagant in a year when budgets are being cut across state government.    

But Branstad compared the fund to past transition appropriations.

“The same Democrats when they controlled everything, gave $170,000 for [Gov. Chet] Culver's transition,” Branstad said.

His voice rising higher, Branstad implied that sexism was involved.

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa legislature adjourned for the 2017 legislative session on Saturday, after pulling an all-nighter on Friday. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters spoke with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell.

Three months after his nomination, Sonny Perdue faces a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate Monday for the post of secretary of agriculture.

If confirmed, Perdue will find a desk at USDA piled high with priorities and will be one of the last members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet to be seated.

NASA photo

Astronaut and Iowa native Peggy Whitson sets a U.S. record in orbit today.  She is spending her 535th cumulative day in space, and that breaks the record of 534 days that had been held by Jeff Williams.  Whitson lifted off from Kazakhstan November 17th, 2016, on what is her third trip aboard the station. 

In an interview with Texas schoolchildren in February, Whitson was asked what it’s like to be flying through space at 17-thousand miles an hour.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

The alternative high school in Des Moines is using grant money to become a safer place for students who are experiencing trauma at home. The money will help make staff more aware of how troubles outside the class are linked to behavior inside.

Scavo High School is planning to use $23,000 from the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation to become what’s known as a “trauma sensitive school.” The community schools coordinator for Scavo, Lyn Marchant, says the money will help teachers and students recognize the connection between strife at home and performance in school.

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