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Iowa’s only Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives says he still doesn’t know the details of what Republicans will propose as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.  Dave Loebsack is on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will vote on a replacement before sending it to the full House.

“So far what I have heard is that what they have offered is wholly inadequate and it doesn’t deal with the problems that we tried to deal with in the Obamacare legislation,” he says.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Office space at the former AIB campus south of downtown Des Moines is being put to use as a hub for health-related nonprofits. It’s the first project to come since the University of Iowa took ownership of the 20-acre property last summer.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The newest member of the Iowa Board of Regents, who faces confirmation by the Iowa Senate, took an hour of vigorous questioning Monday from Democrats on the Senate Education Committee.  

Dr. Michael Richards has been serving on the board in an interim capacity, replacing retiring Regent Mary Andringa.     

Minority Democrats probed Richards’s views on conservative legislation under consideration in the GOP- controlled Senate, which would affect the universities.    

U.S. Department of Arts and Culture

A group in Des Moines is staging what it calls a People’s State of the Union event Monday night at a local jazz club. The evening will consist of stories told by representatives from various minority groups.

The storytelling circle will be made up of someone who uses a wheelchair, a Latina, a Native American, an African-American, a Muslim high school student and a refugee from the Middle East. One of the organizers is Carmen Lampe Zeitler.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad Monday downplayed a controversy over his signing last week of a controversial bill wiping out most collective bargaining rights for Iowa’s public workers.  

A lobbyist for a conservative group that backed the bill was on hand for the bill-signing which was off-limits to the public. 

Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, lobbied for the bill.  

The group’s Iowa Director Drew Klein had his picture taken with the Governor at the bill-signing table.   The photo ended up on Twitter.   

Clay Masters / IPR

The state’s largest public sector labor union has filed a lawsuit that says a new collective bargaining law is unconstitutional. The lawsuit seeks to halt immediate enforcement to the changes in the law that Gov. Terry Branstad signed Friday. After quickly moving through the legislature last week, the new law prohibits public sector unions from negotiating over issues like health insurance.

John Pemble / IPR

A Republican bill changing collective bargaining passed through the House and Senate on Thursday after a long and contentious debate.  Governor Terry Branstad signed it into law on Friday.

Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media file photo

It’s a classic conundrum that comes up every time you’re cleaning out the fridge: the package label says the food is past its prime, but it’s not moldy or smelly.

Do you give it a chance or toss it in the trash?

For a great number of consumers it’s the latter, but now some of the largest food retail trade groups are hoping to settle the score and clear up the confusion in hopes of keeping more food in bellies, rather than sending heaps of food to landfills.

Sarah Boden/IPR

Hundreds of Iowans participated in Des Moines’s “Day Without Immigrants” march, an event that was one of many taking place around the country yesterday. 

The march is designed to highlight the importance of immigrant labor to the US economy. Dozens of Latino-owned businesses closed and people took off work to make the point that immigrants provide an important source of labor, often by taking on low-pay, backbreaking jobs many US citizens don’t want.

John Pemble / IPR

  Both of the Republican-majority chambers of the Iowa legislature have passed a sweeping bill that dramatically hits public sector union collective bargaining rights. In Wisconsin, a similar bill passed six years ago. It has significantly scaled back the power of the state's public sector unions in not only negotiating contracts but also fundraising for democratic candidates. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Wisconsin Public Radio's Shawn Johnson about how things have changed there since Act 10 was passed in 2011. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Until recently, sheriff’s departments in 26 Iowa counties pursued policies described as “sanctuary” protections for undocumented immigrants. That number appears to be going down.

At the start of a public forum in the gymnasium of Hampton-Dumont High School, some ground rules are laid out by the event's organizer, Sister Carmen Hernandez.

“I would ask that any comments, or political comments and opinions might be saved for another time," she tells the crowd. "That probably won’t happen, but just so we know.”

Photo Courtesy of Nate Sletten

Nate Sletten leads the band program at Earlham High School, and he has twice been nominated for a Grammy for Music Educator of the Year. This year, he was a semi-finalist, chosen in a group of 25 music educators from across the country. He did not win, but he’s done some amazing work building the band program in Earlham, in part by continuing to play in bands himself and letting students sit in with him. 

He says he chooses to stay in a rural district because of the relationships he has the opportunity to build there. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

After three days of bitter partisan debate, the Iowa House and Senate today gave final approval to legislation critics say will decimate Iowa’s collective bargaining law that covers 180-thousand public employees in Iowa. 

A handful of Republican voters defied their leadership and voted with Democrats against the bill. 

The vote in the House was 53 to 47.   The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 29 to 21.

Democrats argued through the night and up to the afternoon, making a last pitch on behalf of public workers.  

John Pemble/IPR

It was another long day of debate Wednesday in the Iowa House and Senate, where Democrats are trying to stop a bill they say will decimate Iowa’s collective bargaining law that benefits 180,000 public employees. 

Democrats have stretched the debate across two days, though passage is almost guaranteed. 

WIKICOMMONS / Richc80

The city of Nevada’s Chief of Police says his department has arrested an Ames man who reportedly threatened to kill, brand, and cause bodily harm to a transgender high school student. The student's gender identity is reportedly why he was targeted by 65-year-old Mondell Olson. 

Olson is accused of leaving two voicemails with these threats on a Nevada Community School District phone line. Chief Ricardo Martinez says Olson also sent an inappropriate and unwanted text message to a district teacher that was sexual in nature.

Dean Borg / IPR

Mount Vernon's Cornell College is celebrating its largest cash gift in its history, and is immediately investing it in a science center.  The $20-million gift comes from 1965 alumna, Jean Russell, now a St. Louis medical doctor.

Jonathan Brand, Cornell's President says, "Thanks to Jean we were able to hit our $32-million goal for the science center in under two years."  The science project is a new four-story, 45,600 foot building and renovation of the current West Science Center and Law House to house STEM studies.

FLICKR / KATY WARNER

A case pending before the Iowa Supreme Court could result in the deportation of many immigrants who currently have legal status. It considers whether Muscatine County is interfering with federal immigration policy by prosecuting a woman for identity fraud and forgery.

John Pemble / IPR

Debate that may last days got underway in the Iowa House and Senate yesterday on a Republican-sponsored bill that will rewrite Iowa’s law governing collective bargaining for public employees who work for the state, cities, counties, and schools. 

Over the last week thousands of public workers have phoned, e-mailed, or turned out in person to protest the bill.  

Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) opened up debate in the Senate shortly before four o’clock. 

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Iowa House Human Resources Committee will likely soon vote on a bill from the state Senate that takes away public family planning money from organizations that provide abortions. The legislation most affects 12 Planned Parenthood clinics.  

No state or federal dollars pay for abortion services. But people who want to defund organizations like Planned Parenthood argue that giving any public funding to these clinics still indirectly promotes abortion.

Laura Limmex of Ankeny says she opposes abortion, after having a horrible experience at age 16.

John Pemble /IPR file photo

The Iowa legislature is moving quickly this week on a collective bargaining bill that looks very similar to the one passed in Wisconsin back in 2011. There's a hearing Monday at 6:00 p.m. at the capitol. IPR Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talks with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell.

Iowa's bill follows the Wisconsin model more than most. That's according to one legal expert. The bill will prevent unions from negotiating for health benefits and a whole list of other benefits and workplace issues.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Jeanne Crumly’s introduction to the Keystone XL oil pipeline came seven years ago. That’s when she learned the 36-inch pipe could someday carry up to 830,000 barrels of heavy crude through her land each day on its way from Hardisty, Alberta, to a pipeline hub at Steele City, Nebraska.

“The pipeline would be about 400 yards north of my house, running through a creek out here where cattle water and where we draw irrigation water,” Crumly says.

John Pemble / IPR

On this show, representative Monica Kurth from Davenport took her oath of office on Monday.  She won a special election on January 31st.  Now the Iowa House is full and her first day was a long one.  The House debated a K-12 education spending bill, as well as a new rule banning the use of visual aids, during a debate without approval from the Speaker of the House.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says he will not seek reappointment when his term expires at the end of April.  Rastetter has been on the board that governs the state’s public universities since 2011.  He was elected president in 2013.  In an interview on Iowa Public TV’s Iowa Press two weeks ago, Rastetter called his time on the board a “unique and challenging experience.”

Flickr / Farragutful

The Iowa Supreme Court says a valid traffic stop can’t be prolonged without reasonable suspicion, once the original cause for that stop is resolved. As a result a man's aggravated misdemeanor conviction has been overturned. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A Republican plan to discontinue payroll deductions of union dues for state workers is encountering fierce opposition from public employees and their advocates in the legislature.   

The measure is part of a sweeping overhaul of the collective bargaining law which covers 130,000 public employees.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The top Republican in the Iowa House is downplaying concerns about a bill that advanced this week to throw out higher minimum wage laws currently in effect in four Iowa counties.  

The bill would mandate the same $7.25 minimum wage statewide, so higher wages approved in Polk, Linn, Johnson and Wapello counties would be repealed.  

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) says that doesn’t mean wages in those communities will automatically go down.

John Pemble / IPR

Floodwaters destroyed the University of Iowa’s School of Music in 2008.  Last fall, it was replaced with a new building that includes six organs. A Klais organ from Germany is in the largest performance hall at the Voxman Building.

 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A bill to scale back the rights of public workers got its first airing at the statehouse today, one day after it was introduced to broad and noisy criticism.   Public workers told house and senate panels the bill guts Iowa’s collective bargaining law which they say has helped raise the standard of living for 130,000 state, county, city, and school employees.      

Extra troopers were on hand at the capitol for the hearings.     

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