IPR News Stories

Ashley Leal parks in front of the Plains, Kansas, Community Library. It’s about to close, but she doesn’t care. She pulls out her blue laptop.

“I’m ... using the Wi-Fi,” Leal says with a laugh.

Her home internet was so slow, she came to the library parking lot. Cars often idle there in the evening while their drivers tap into a plodding, but treasured, link to the internet.

“I’m just thankful that we have somewhere to go,” Leal says.

It’s the only free internet in this small western Kansas town. For many people, it’s the only internet, period. Surprisingly, part of the problem and the solution, for rural areas may lie in Netflix traffic.

Employers can force workers to settle disputes outside of court, the U.S. Supreme Court said this week, which could negatively affect agricultural workers and employees who earn low wages.

Waterville weebly / https://waterville.weebly.com/history-of-waterville-school.html

This week the one and only school in the Northeastern Iowa town of Waterville will close its doors permanently. But while school district consolidation can certainly change a community, it doesn’t have to be the end of it. 

John Pemble / IPR

The Director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics is critiquing Senator Nate Boulton’s initial response after the Des Moines Register reported on his alleged sexual improprieties.    

Boulton withdrew from the race for the Democratic nomination for governor today. 

On Wednesday he apologized to the women who said he had inappropriately touched them at a bar or at parties.   

But his campaign pointed out that he had not harassed women at work.

Thomas Favre-Bulle

Thousands of Iowa high schoolers wrapped up rigorous Advanced Placement exams this month, in the hopes of earning college credit. But some students don’t have access to the in-class instruction that can help them pass their APs and test out of university requirements.

nate boulton
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

UPDATE: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 24

Nate Boulton said in a statement Thursday morning he is suspending his campaign for governor. 

"While I depart this campaign for governor with a heavy heart, I remain resolved to the greater cause of creating a future Iowa we all can be proud to call our home," the statement read.  

There are five other Democrats running in the primary.  By Thursday morning, four of them had called for Boulton to drop out of the race, and John Norris said Boulton shouldn't be the Democratic nominee. 

Mike Fritcher via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikefritcherphotography/28345182261/in/photolist-YaC8mq-6Kpc5g-iZdW55-J8XkmS-axeGbk-26QwzgE-JKtZ1s-cZGHow-cZGHvu-P51BXw-Pcu4pu-NhAr6x-NZebRo-BJjbh-4MzPnm-JF4FM-4NigoN-QmtcLo-HzGfZK-FC9jEG-G2sQzj-Fb15fq-FFkzTh-FcS3jf-stNvQ-JYi

Federal officials have selected 62 Iowa communities  for a new Opportunity Zone program. The effort is meant to encourage investment in underserved areas. But Iowa officials say they're still waiting for more details on how the program will actually work.

Douglas Palmer via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/diacritical/4628043944/

An Iowa non-profit organization is trying to pay for the release of all 32 individuals detained in an immigration raid in Mount Pleasant. By getting them out of detention centers, organizers behind the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project say those arrested will have a much better chance of presenting their case in court.

bill signing
John Pemble / IPR

Iowa’s Executive Council voted Monday to approve the hiring of a Chicago-based conservative law firm to represent the state in a lawsuit challenging the fetal heartbeat abortion law.

Kate Payne / IPR

Early projections from national media outlets suggest Iowa Congressman Rod Blum may be one of the most vulnerable representatives in the country. Four Democrats want to unseat the two-term Republican during this year’s midterms. In this key toss-up race, some voters are saying electability is more important than policy.

planned parenthood clinic
Sarah Boden/IPR File

Groups that provide or refer patients for abortions would reportedly be barred from receiving federal funding under a soon to be released Trump administration proposal.

Wikimedia Commons

Immigration officials arrested 32 people in Mt. Pleasant Iowa last week as part of a raid on a concrete factory. 

During this segment of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Reverend Trey Hegar, who is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant. The church has been trying to help families in Mt. Pleasant who are now worried about being able to pay their rent next month with the breadwinner for the home in ICE custody. Juana Barrios, whose father was arrested as part of the raid, also joins the conversation.

Amy Mayer / Iowa Public Radio

 At The Law Shop in Van Meter, attorney Amy Skogerson untied a piece of blue yarn from around a bunch of craft sticks.

Each stick had a word or short phrase stamped on it, and she read from them as she placed them on her desk: “negotiate, court representation, research law, draft documents.”

democratic debate
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The six Democratic candidates for Iowa governor had some heated exchanges Wednesday at a debate at the Iowa Public TV studios in Johnston. It was the first time voters saw the six candidates directly address each other and attack their opponents’ records.

All of the candidates said they want to decrease state tax credits given to businesses because they see them as hurting Iowa’s revenue growth and leading to budget cuts for education and state agencies.

The Republican-sponsored tax reform bill that passed on the last day of the legislative session included some tax advantages for private schools that didn’t get much attention during the debate.  That was a victory for private K-12 education advocates, who lost a bigger battle this year.  A bill to give state dollars directly to families for private and parochial school tuition, what advocates call education savings accounts and critics call school vouchers, failed to advance.  

university of iowa
Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

Non-tenure track faculty at the University of Iowa say they’re laying the groundwork for labor negotiations with the administration. The group of adjuncts, instructors and visiting professors had its first formal meeting with officials Wednesday morning.

Dean Borg/IPR

North Iowa farm fields, intended for growing corn this summer, aren’t yet planted. Hundreds of acres—mostly in the northern tier of counties adjacent to the Minnesota border—have ponds from April snows and several inches of early May rain.

Earlier this week, USDA’s crop update said three-quarters of North Iowa’s intended corn acreage is unplanted.  That contrasts with the southern two-thirds of the state where 79 percent is planted.  Corn plants are emerging in 26 percent of the state’s acreage.

Statewide, one-third of the soybean acreage is planted.

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

The sheriff of Franklin County has died after a short illness.

Linn Larson was elected sheriff of the north Iowa county in November of 2015.

He was the police chief of Belmond when he was hired by Franklin County in 1990.

He eventually worked up to become chief deputy in 2008.

In February of 2017, he set off concerns within Franklin County’s large Latino population when he announced he would begin cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Linn Larson died Tuesday. He was 59 years old.

John Pemble / IPR

The six Democrats running for their party's nomination for governor will square off in their second debate tonight on Iowa Public Television. Whoever wins the primary on June 5 will face Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. The governor does not face a primary challenge

rita bettis
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Planned Parenthood, the ACLU of Iowa and the Emma Goldman Clinic are suing Gov. Kim Reynolds over her recent signing of the fetal heartbeat abortion law.

They say the law—which bans most abortions after about six weeks into pregnancy—should be struck down as unconstitutional. They are also asking the Polk County District Court to block the law from taking effect while the lawsuit plays out.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland President and CEO Suzanna de Baca said Tuesday if the law takes effect July 1, it will have a “devastating effect” on women seeking abortions.

Kate Payne

A superintendent in eastern Iowa is keeping his job, despite letting a convicted sex offender volunteer in his district. The administrator had previously offered to resign over the issue that some say has divided the school community.

democratic primary forum
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

There’s a lot of Democratic energy surrounding the 2018 elections because Democrats see them as a chance to get into Congress and oppose the Trump administration’s agenda.

In Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers rural southwest Iowa and the cities of Des Moines and Council Bluffs, three candidates are running in the Democratic primary to take on two-term Republican U.S. Rep. David Young. Eddie Mauro, Cindy Axne and Pete D’Alessandro have similar views on many issues and all live in the Des Moines area, but they have different backgrounds.

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

The drive to draw more young women into science, technology, engineering and math has been gaining momentum in recent years. There's a program in Des Moines that makes sure low-income girls are given a chance at the so-called STEM fields.

Many of the girls Nancy Mwirotsi works with are beginning at ground zero when it comes to computers.

“Most of them are pretty new in the country," she says. "We had to start with basic what is an e-mail address.”

John Pemble/IPR

Andy McGuire is a physician and health care management executive. She was also chair of the Iowa Democratic Party in 2015 and ‘16 and oversaw the last Iowa caucuses. Now, she’s running for her party’s nomination for governor.

She spoke with IPR's Clay Masters on Wednesday May 9, 2018 at her campaign office in Des Moines. A transcript of the conversation follows:

I'm asking everybody who's running in the primary why they want to be governor?

Kate Payne/IPR

Family members of those detained in an immigration raid in Mt. Pleasant this week are still reeling, after federal law enforcement officials arrested 32 workers at a concrete factory Wednesday morning.

Now their families are trying to navigate the legal system, hire lawyers and figure out how to pay the bills. Fifteen year old Oscar Lopez’s stepfather was among those detained.

“I think of him as the hardest working man there is,” Lopez said. “He just really… he just tried to get a roof over our head, food to us, everything. Give us the best life there could be.”

Pat Blank/IPR

In the early morning hours of May 12, 2008, large numbers of U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents moved in on a kosher meat processing plant in the small northeast Iowa community of Postville. They carried military-style weapons and some wore riot gear, carrying out what remains the nation's largest immigration raid. Postville businessman Aaron Goldsmith says he was awakened by the sound of helicopters.

jerry foxhoven
Joyce Russell/IPR

Another worker at Iowa’s school for delinquent boys has been attacked by a resident.

According to Iowa Department of Human Services, a student of the state training school at Eldora punched a staff member in the face on Saturday, May 5.

DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven described the resulting injuries at a meeting Wednesday.

“The doctors have said that his injuries look like what they get from somebody from a very serious car accident,” Foxhoven said.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The legislature went 18 days past the planned 100 when it finally adjourned on May 5th.  The biggest reason for the delay is because House and Senate Republicans took a long time to find agreement on a new tax plan. It will gradually phase in tax reductions over a six year period. The final reductions in taxes will happen in 2023 and 2024 if economic triggers are met.

In 2019, tax collections will be reduced by $100 million, while it is estimated $66 million will come in from new taxes on digital services.

Feed Iowa First via facebook / facebook.com/feediowafirst

A non-profit organization that puts fresh produce on the tables of food insecure Iowans is carrying on the legacy of its late founder.

Gage Skidmore

The movie Black Panther features a cast full of strong black characters, both male and female. Its release is a powerful moment for many people who have longed to see themselves and their culture reflected on screen.

“I never saw that [growing up],” says Noreen Naseem Rodriguez, an assistant professor of elementary social studies at Iowa State University. “It’s so important, especially as an educator, to provide those mirrors to children, to affirm them, to show them that you have different options in life.”

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