News

Joyce Russell/IPR

A top Republican in the Iowa legislature is calling for a comprehensive review of state tax policy, including cutting taxes, now that his party is in full control at the statehouse.   

House GOP leader Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights)  answered questions at a meeting of the Iowa Taxpayers Association today.  

“I think we need a completely fresh look at tax policy in this state top to bottom and we're going to go through that,”  Hagenow said.  “Fundamentally, it’s 'are we going to find a way to reduce the tax burden  of Iowa taxpayers?'”  

Christmas Trees And Poinsettias: What To Look For And How To Keep Them Alive

Dec 2, 2016
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Alby Headrick / Flickr

With the holidays upon us many of us will bring new plant life into our homes.  Choosing the right poinsettia or Christmas tree can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. 

MadMaxMarchHere / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Northern Iowa is in the process of hiring a new President after former President William Ruud resigned to take another position with Marietta College in Ohio. The City of Des Moines is considering hiring a bicycle liaison to ensure that pedestrian and cyclist safety are addressed in city planning, and an entirely re-imagined version of the Nutcracker is debuting in Iowa this week. 

Every fall, Iowa Public Radio celebrates Iowa week with a series of programs devoted to exploring culture in our state and what it means to be Iowan. The theme for 2016 was “Artistic Iowa,” and as a part of that series, we asked listeners to send us their line drawings depicting what Iowa means to them. We received more than 300 submissions from across the state from artists ranging in age from 8 to 68.

Amy Mayer / Iowa Public Radio

As he prepares to leave Washington, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warns the next administration about the impact of global markets on U. S. farmers. 

Vilsack is quick to point out he’s not privy to any information from the Republican president-elect, but he’s worried about how Donald Trump will approach immigration and trade.  Vilsack says bad decisions could spur retaliation from China and Mexico—two of the top three trading partners for the U.S.

Iowa Reading Research Center

The Iowa Reading Research Center is out with the results of a study into the effectiveness of summer reading programs. The report comes as every school district in the state approaches a deadline to enact some form of summer reading program.

Flickr / thenicole

All 902 plow trucks owned by the Iowa Department of Transportation now equipped with a new GPS system. It allows vehicles to gather all sorts of data, which the DOT will use for clearing Iowa’s roadways of snow and ice more efficiently. 

Craig Bargfrede heads DOT winter operations. This new system costs about $850,000, but Bargfrede says the upgrade will pay for itself in time and money savings. 

Santiago Alvarez

While young woman are a particularly vulnerable population when it comes to eating disorders, eating disorders affect women and men of all ages.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

'Tis the season for giving. What better gift than a book? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Barb Stein and Sarah Prineas of Prairie Lights Books, and Jerri Heid of the Ames Public Library about the best new books to give this year. 

Sarah and Barb's List

POETRY, SONGS AND MOTHER GOOSE:

Marco Antonio Coloma/flickr

A tax break Iowans enjoy on digitally-delivered goods is under consideration at the statehouse.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Revenue today briefed a panel of state lawmakers who are charged with reviewing the tax credits that cost the state treasury hundreds of millions of dollars a year.    

DOR economist Amy Harris said Iowans currently do not pay sales tax when they download e-books, movies, or software from the internet.   

Matthew Coley

Holiday marimba music is here! Iowa Public Radio’s Performance Iowa is excited to present internationally acclaimed percussionist Matthew Coley’s Heartland Marimba Festival holiday program live from Studio One in Cedar Falls. His solo spectacular will feature beautiful holiday favorites that he has arranged for this tour. Tune in on Monday, December 5 at noon for this festive Performance Iowa broadcast!

Gage Skidmore

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts, Tim Hagle and Justin Holmes, about President-Elect Donald Trump’s latest cabinet picks and what the current appointees may plan to do if approved by the Senate.

Trump most recently nominated Georgia Rep. Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services. Price has been a consistent opponent of the Affordable Care Act in Congress, and he’s developed an alternative plan to replace the ACA.

Hagle doesn't expect the popular aspects of the ACA to be abolished.

A long-planned highway extension in Cedar Rapids is nearing completion of its first phase. Development officials say the project will eventually lead to massive growth on the city’s west side.

By mid-December, a four-mile stretch of Highway 100 between Edgewood and Covington roads should be open to traffic. The four-lane divided highway includes a bridge over the Cedar River. The Director of Community Development in Cedar Rapids, Jennifer Pratt, says the bypass will ease traffic congestion in the city and open up a huge swath of land for development.

Emily Woodbury/IPR File

$34,113 a year. That's the average annual amount the I0wa Department of Corrections spends per inmate according to an audit of DOC institutions from 2011 to 2015. 

The audit also shows that the average annual cost per inmate rose by 15 percent since 2011, and during this same time period the total inmate population decreased by seven percent.

Steve Dick, financial manager for the DOC,  says when you have fewer prisoners the daily costs of running an institution are not as spread out. So expenses are divided by a smaller number of people. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

The director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy is watching as President-elect Donald Trump makes key appointments affecting drug enforcement.  

He’s optimistic strong anti-drug administrators will be named.  

Steve Lukan says Iowans in the drug enforcement and treatment community have noted the appointment of  Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General.   

Lukan says there’s speculation the Trump administration may have different ideas about enforcing federal marijuana laws than the current administration.

Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of Hancher

At its 1892 premiere, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker went over like a stocking full of coal. St. Petersburg critics called it a "failed experiment" and "an insult." Only in Cold War America did it become the Christmas ballet, and while that process began in San Francisco, what made it a national tradition was a refugee who had danced the Nutcracker as a teenager in Russia, George Balanchine.

Flickr / Ryan J. Reilly

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, met with Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama this morning to discuss his nomination for U.S. Attorney General. Grassley’s committee will consider the appointment before the entire Senate votes.

In 1986, Sessions was rejected for a federal judgeship due to allegations of racially insensitive remarks, some of which he says were taken out of context, and others he denies. Grassley was on the Judiciary Committee at the time, and voted in favor of Sessions, though he says he couldn’t recall the hearing.

Gray Lantta

It's getting cold outside, and it's getting close to the time of year when we're thinking about giving gifts to family and friends. That makes at least two good reasons to research the best reads of 2016. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Paul Ingram and Jan Weismiller of Prairie Lights Books, as well as Mary Rork-Watson of Plot Twist Bookstore in Ankeny, about their favorite books for adults that were new this year. 

Paul's List

Fiction: 

Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

A familiar face will be returning to the set of the long-running Iowa Public Television public affairs program Iowa Press.   Longtime Des Moines Register political reporter and nationally recognized political analyst David Yepsen is returning to the program as its moderator and host.   He will replace host Dean Borg, who has hosted the program since 1971, and announced his retirement last week.  Most recently Yepsen directed the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.   Yepsen calls it a tremendous honor to return to Iowa Press.

Daniel R. Blume / Flickr, Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

The 1976 film, "All the President's Men," glamorized investigative journalism. The movie won four Academy Awards, was nominated for Best Picture and inspired a generation of investigative journalists. This year another film, "Spotlight," tells the story of an investigative team at The Boston Globe, who uncovered the Catholic Church's pattern of protecting priests accused of child sexual abuse. Will it spark the same inspiration in an industry facing financial struggles, that is growing increasingly fragmented and driven by a need to fill a 24-hour news hole?

Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance

Economic development officials in Cedar Rapids are preparing a plot of land on the city’s southwest side for a future industrial park. They say the site has the potential to become the state’s biggest certified location for large-scale industries.

Today is the fifth annual Giving Tuesday. This day, which always follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, promotes charitable donations with a heavy emphasis on social media. 

Brianne Fitzgerald of Volunteer Iowa says nonprofits can leverage the impact of Giving Tuesday by encouraging people to post the reason they donated to the organization on social media.     

Iowa Department of Transportation

A new high-tech method for finding carpool partners is up and running at the Iowa Department of Transportation’s website. 

At IowaRideshare.org a motorist or passenger enters basic information to locate someone with similar transportation needs.   

The proposed route will show up on an Iowa map.

wcfsymphony.org

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa encore broadcast features the wcfsymphony’s “Elgar’s Bike” concert. The program includes works by Josef Strauss, Timo Andres, and Edward Elgar.

There have been many protests in the United States recently. 

After Election Day, protests sprung up across the nation, the Black Lives Matter protests have been going on since 2013, and tensions have escalated at the Standing Rock Indian reservation in North Dakota, where protesters stand against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

This hour on River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on protesting in America, from past to present.

IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" will host Iowa City's reggae master Tony Brown on Friday, December 2 at The Java House in downtown Iowa City. 

Stop by at 2 P.M. to hear Java Blend host Ben Kieffer chat with Brown about his long and storied career and listen to him perform tunes from his rich discography. 

Courtesy of Pleasant Valley Garden Center

Aleda Feuerbach knows the garden center business; as it grew, she grew, literally. Her parents raised her in the green house, and when they were ready to retire, she took over the family business with help from her husband.

“You don’t count days, you don’t count hours, you just do it,” she says. “You gotta be dedicated to that because family business takes it out of ya. I love it, I’d do it again, but you’ve got to have that make up to make you successful.”

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf

Iowans with family members who are addicted to heroin or narcotic painkillers now have an easy way to acquire a potentially life-saving antidote, after action by the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.   

Patricia Quinlisk has issued a standing order so that any family member who demonstrates a need can go to a local pharmacy and purchase naloxone which can reverse the effects of an overdose. 

In an overdose situation, naloxone reverses the drug-induced slowing of the respiratory system.   

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Des Moines Area Community College and Iowa Wesleyan University in Mount Pleasant are joining to offer a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing completion program. It will be open to students who earn their Registered Nurse associate degrees at DMACC.

It’s being called the RN-to-BSN 3+1 completion program. Graduates of DMACC’s nursing program will be able to complete their BSN degrees in one year by taking on-line courses provided by Iowa Wesleyan. 

For nontraditional students such as Lashaina Woods of Waterloo, the initiative comes with significant cost savings.

In this episode of Iowa Public Radio Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa blues icon Kevin B.F. Burt stops by The Java House in downtown Iowa City to croon and belt his legendary tunes. 

Lend an ear to the podcast below to hear some of Burt's new works, as well as some searing covers of B.B. King, Bob Dylan, and more. 

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