IPR News Stories

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.”

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Libertarian Party of Iowa has full political party status for the first time this election cycle. That's because of a record-breaking showing in Iowa for presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016.

There are two candidates running for their party's nomination: Marco Battaglia and Jake Porter. Battaglia has been an active member of the state and national Libertarian Party for five years. He was a nominating delegate to the last national convention, and he’s worked for a number of state and national political campaigns. 

Seth Sawyers via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/sidewalk_flying/

The Davenport Community School District is considering closing one of its schools, in order to balance the budget. One local official says the problems are partly caused by the state’s school funding formula

Joyce Russell/IPR

Gov. Reynolds today defended a bill she signed that will scale back energy efficiency programs in Iowa.  

Critics say the money available for rebates and retrofits will be cut by as much as two-thirds.

That’s even though the Iowa Energy Plan that Reynolds oversaw championed energy efficiency as an important piece of energy policy.  

Reynolds said the final bill was the result of compromise with Republican legislators.

John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa legislature adjourned on Saturday. Sexual harassment and workplace behavior was a topic that hung over the session. Last year, former Republican Senate caucus staffer Kirsten Anderson received a $1.75 million lawsuit settlement. She alleged she was fired in 2013 hours after filing a complaint regarding sexual harassment.

Brownells, Inc. / https://www.brownells.com/aspx/general/about_brownells.aspx

Iowan Pete Brownell will not seek another term as president of the National Rifle Association. For some of his neighbors in the city of Grinnell, that’s a relief.

Wikimedia Commons

Early voting started Monday for the June 5th primary elections for Iowa governor, U.S. representatives, and other offices. It marks the first statewide use of Iowa’s new voter ID law, which was signed into law in 2017.

Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald says if voters register by May 25, they don’t need an ID to vote in-person.

“So you can sign an oath of identity saying, ‘I’m Joe Voter, I’m in the pre-registration book. I either don’t have my ID or I prefer not to give it.’ For 2018, that’s an option for everybody,” Fitzgerald says.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

U.S. House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was in Des Moines Sunday to rally support among party activists for the midterm election. The minority leader was the featured speaker at the Polk County Democrats spring dinner fundraiser.

Pelosi says the party needs to focus on convincing the country Democrats have a “better deal” for Americans.

John Pemble/IPR

The 2018 session of the Iowa legislature came to a close Saturday, creating a new record length for overtime sessions when one party controls the House, the Senate, and the governor’s office.  Lawmakers put the finishing touches on the state budget and approved what Republicans call the most significant tax reform in a generation.

The tax bill, with an eventual price tag of $2.8 billion, passed the House and Senate on strict party-line votes, the last bill to be approved. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A partisan fight has erupted between the Republican legislature and Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller as lawmakers try to finalize a state budget and adjourn for the year.   

Republicans have warned the AG to back off civil suits against the Trump administration, or face a cut in his office budget.  

Miller has joined numerous multi-state challenges against the administration over a range of issues.  

paul pate
Kate Payne/IPR

The state’s top elections official says the state's voting systems are buffeted by cyber attacks. Now Iowa's secretary of state is launching a new partnership to try and insulate the department.

bill signing
John Pemble / IPR

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the country’s most restrictive abortion law Friday afternoon, banning most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

House and Senate Republicans sent the bill to Reynolds earlier this week after back-to-back, late-night votes.

Reynolds signed the bill surrounded by children and Republican lawmakers, while protesters chanted outside her office.

Jen Castro via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jencastro/16345941420/

For Native American advocates, this Saturday is a national day of awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women. Members of the Meskwaki tribe are organizing a walk to remember an Iowa woman who disappeared in 2015.

Sarah Boden/IPR File

Abortion opponents in the Iowa legislature have added language to a budget bill that will divert more federal funds away from Planned Parenthood because the organization performs abortions. 

Under the bill, Planned Parenthood would no longer be eligible for grants for sex education programs.  That follows last year’s legislation banning family planning grants for abortion providers.

If the new legislation becomes law, the health care provider would lose approximately $130,000 from the federal Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention program.      

tom miller
Joyce Russell/IPR

UPDATE: Governor Kim Reynolds signed the fetal heartbeat abortion bill at 3:00 p.m. today (Friday).

As Iowans wait to see if Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds will sign the fetal heartbeat abortion bill into law, Iowa’s attorney general is deciding if he would defend the law in court.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode (cropped)
Artiom Ponkratenko

The intersection of art and agriculture is important to Mary Swander. She says art has been a part of ag for a long time with concepts like folk art. Now she has helped start a new non-profit called AgArts.

She says that we are in a dilemma with issues involving pollution, erosion, decline of the family farm, decline of small towns, and the arts have a role in addressing those issues in a way that people can embrace and that helps with revitalization.

John Pemble /IPR

Democrat Ross Wilburn is Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s diversity officer, as well as an associate program director for Community and Economic Development. He has 26 years of experience in nonprofit and governmental organizations, including serving as Iowa City mayor and a council member. Now, he’s running for governor of Iowa.

He talked with IPR's Clay Masters about Medicaid, water quality and other issues facing Iowa. A transcript of the conversation follows:

Joyce Russell/IPR

The 2018 tax cut debate continued at the statehouse Wednesday with a “walk-through” of the general outlines of a plan agreed to by Republicans in the House, Senate, and governor’s office.

Democrats lashed out against the latest version of the bill cutting income taxes and eventually corporate taxes by $2.8 billion over six years.

It’s a must-do for majority Republicans before they bring the overtime 2018 legislative session to a close.   

John Pemble/IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds does not face a primary election challenger and there are six Democrats running for their party's nomination. But, there's also a primary race for Libertarians this June.

The Libertarian Party of Iowa has full political party status for the first time this election cycle. That's because of a record-breaking showing in Iowa for presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016. There are two candidates running for their party's nomination: Marco Battaglia and Jake Porter.

The farm bill traditionally is a bipartisan effort, but House Republicans’ proposed changes to the main federal food-aid program in this year’s version have struck a nerve. To move it through efficiently, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says he’ll appeal to President Donald Trump.

Floyd County Government. / http://www.floydcoia.org/441/Jail

Voters in a North Iowa county approved a $13.5 million bond Tuesday to build a new jail. More than 68 percent of Floyd County voters signed off on the referendum, clearing the 60 percent threshold needed to pass. Pressure to rebuild the 77 year old facility has been building for years.  An inspector from the state Department of Corrections first labeled the Floyd County facility inadequate in 2013.

shannon lundgren
John Pemble / IPR

A bill that would ban almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected passed the Iowa House late Tuesday night and the Iowa Senate early Wednesday morning following hours of passionate debate.

The bill would ban most abortions after about six weeks into a pregnancy, with some exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, and to save the life of the mother. It now goes to the governor’s desk.

Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

An opera opening in New York City this week will feature some voices from Iowa. But not all of the chorus members involved are free to travel to see the production in person.

“Give yourself a little inhale," says director Mary Cohen, as she stands before her choir. "Open your mouth for the exhale. This time reflect on the message of the song. So the message of freedom, light, hope.”

Iowa capitol
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

A new program that aims to reduce jail populations could be terminated under a bill that passed the Iowa House Monday evening.

A bill appropriating funds for the state’s justice system includes a provision that would outlaw the use of the Public Safety Assessment in pretrial hearings when determining whether to detain or release a defendant before trial.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

The prospect of selling gasoline with more ethanol throughout the year remains alive, but likely won’t be approved in time for the upcoming summer driving season.

Most gasoline containing ethanol has no more than 10 percent. A blend with up to 15 percent, called E-15, is available in some places, but in certain markets sales are prohibited from June first through September 15.

In an ongoing push-pull between oil refiners and ethanol producers, President Donald Trump has indicated nationwide, year-round sales of E-15 could be in the works.

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