News

Joyce Russell/IPR

Activists on both sides of the abortion debate crowded a committee room at the capitol Tuesday, weighing in on a bill critics call extreme and unprecedented.  

Backers of the bill say it’s needed to prevent the sale or donation of fetal tissue.

An anti-abortion group last year released videos it said depicted Planned Parenthood of trying to sell fetal body parts.    Federal law bans the sale of fetal remains, but the abortion provider was cleared of wrongdoing. 

But Representative Sandy Salmon (Rep. Janesville) says under Iowa law fetal tissue could still be sold.  

Russell/IPR

A Republican lawmaker will sponsor legislation to legalize the production and distribution of medical marijuana in the state.   At a statehouse news conference, a group known as Iowans for Medical Cannabis released a survey showing wide support for the bill.    

After a long political struggle in 2014, the Iowa legislature approved a bill allowing families to possess cannabis to treat epileptic children.  

William Patrick Butler/Flickr

Former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver is now in the struggle surrounding the current Governor, Republican Terry Branstad’s plan for converting Iowa’s Medicaid program to private management. Culver is conducting several public forums this month.  In Coralville Tuesday, he listened for two hours to the fears of parents and others receiving Medicaid services about the move away from state management of the program.  He told the roughly 30 people attending the forum that privatizing Medicaid isn’t a partisan political issue.

Flickr / Pat Hawks

If you are one of many who dislike driving on Interstate-80, the Iowa Department of Transportation wants to know what you’d do to make it better through an online survey. The department is gearing up for some major updates to I-80 and is collecting opinion data on the interstate's traffic volume, safety, convenience, and quality.

One of the main options being considered is additional lanes.

IPR/Phil Maass

Katie Dahl’s music combines a love for her rural midwestern roots, a droll wit, and a clear-eyed appraisal of modern life, all served up in a voice as rich as cream. On Superbowl Sunday, she and her bass-playing partner Rich Higdon joined Karen Impola in our Cedar Falls studios for a live performance during Karen’s show, The Folk Tree. More information about Katie can be found here: www.katiedahlmusic.com.

Courtesy Adam Dolezal

The persistent decline of honeybees has scientists scrambling to understand what's causing the problem and how to correct it. Humans may be part of the problem.

 

U.S. beekeepers report losing about a third of their colonies each year and the figure increased from 2014 to 2015.

 

FLICKR / GEOF WILSON

The Iowa Utilities Board is holding afternoon meetings this week on whether to grant a permit that allows the construction of a crude oil pipeline through Iowa. The proposed 1,134-mile Dakota Access pipeline would begin in North Dakota, travel through South Dakota and Iowa, and terminate in south-central Illinois.

Dakota Access’s parent company, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, needs permission from the Iowa Utilities Board so it can use eminent domain to gain access to land along the pipeline’s proposed route.

IDOT

Whiteout conditions caused by today’s snowfall and high winds has closed Interstate 35 in both directions between Ames and Clear Lake. 

The Iowa Department of Transportation says the gate system at the U.S. 30/I-35N and I-35S/U.S. 18 interchanges have been activated and the gate arms are down. Northbound I-35 travelers must exit at U.S. 30. Traveler services are available at the nearby U.S. 30 exits into Ames.  Southbound I-35 travelers must exit at U.S. 18. Traveler services are available at the nearby U.S. 18 exits into Clear Lake and Mason City.

Jamelah E. / Flickr

The Iowa legislature has considered legalizing commercial fireworks for years, though the proposal has never made it to the governor’s desk. This year, the debate is revived. 

On this legislative day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on Iowa's fireworks laws, along with Iowa Public Radio correspondent Joyce Russell. They also discuss a new proposal to allow teenagers to vote in a primary if they will be 18-years-old by Election Day. University of Northern Iowa political analyst Chris Larimer says this bill could increase the youth vote in Iowa.

Daniel Orth/Flickr

A Cedar Rapids church is stockpiling bottled water to help Flint, Michigan families deal with that city’s lead-contaminated municipal water supply.  Bottled water cases are being stacked at Mt Zion Baptist Church where Damian Epps is the Senior Pastor.

“My plan is to leave next Monday, on the 15th, and hopefully we can have more than 100,000 bottles of water,” he says. “Take a team of people there and at least spend a day-and-a-half or so passing out water, but also assessing their plight.”

TravelIowa.com

While ice fishing has been in full swing for several months, anglers heading out are encouraged to bring a friend and check the ice often as they make their way to their favorite fishing spot.

Marcinson Press

Tom LaMarr became a dad when he was 48 years old.  Parenting an infant at that age brings with it a host of challenges.  This hour, Charity Nebbe speaks with LaMarr, author of the new book, "Geezer Dad: How I Survived Infertility Clinics, Fatherhood Jitters, Adoption Wait Lingo and Things That Go 'Waaa' in the Night."  LaMarr, a Dubuque native, is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and now lives in Colorado.

Alessandra Tinozzi

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa broadcast features the Des Moines Symphony’s “Capriccio Espagnol & Beethoven’s Pastoral” concert. The program includes Elena Urioste’s Des Moines Symphony debut with Glazunov’s Violin Concerto, as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol.

John Pemble / IPR

With the Iowa caucuses over and the general election months away, political watchers in Iowa turn their gaze to the capitol. The legislature is taking on many of the same characteristics of previous sessions. IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell laid out the following observations:

1. The Governor’s Agenda is modest and defining issues this session are hard to identify.

Amy Mayer / IPR

    

  After Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s victory in the Iowa Caucuses many are questioning the political importance of ethanol, an industry that has long held sway in the political scene of Iowa and much of the Midwest.

Iowa is the top-producer of ethanol, the corn-based fuel, in the country. With its status as the first state that gets a crack at the presidential contest, Iowa often brings renewable fuels into the political limelight.

The Nadas

It was a special night at the Des Moines Social Club, as we welcomed long-time Iowa favorites The Nadas to our live broadcast of Studio One Tracks! Seating was limited for this event, so if you missed the show, we've got you covered - you can now listen to The Nadas' entire performance right here! You'll hear both sets, along with an encore that only the Social Club audience got to hear. Enjoy, and stay tuned to IPR's Studio One Tracks - we'll be announcing our March performer soon!

Courtesy of Jingle Cross

Iowa City is home to one of the nation's largest cyclo-cross events, and the race will now become a World Cup event for the sport. Jingle Cross, which founder John Meehan organized for the first time in 2002, will be held at the Johnson County Fairgrounds September 22-25, 2016. 

Meehan says that even though cyclo-cross is a relatively new sport in Iowa, it's a great spectator event. 

Joyce Russell/IPR

A Republican-dominated panel at the statehouse this week approved another gun rights bill, part of a package of legislation backed by the Iowa Firearms Coalition.  

A bill to make weapons permits confidential will now be considered by the full House Judiciary Committee.  

Missouri Valley Republican Matt Windschitl, a leading gun rights advocate in the legislature, says it’s a matter of privacy for gunowners.

Food safety regulators are hoping new rules will reduce the number of Americans sickened by salmonella bacteria found on the chicken they eat. Currently, salmonella is estimated to cause about 1 million illnesses a year.

Astrid Westvang / Flickr

Every year, thousands of Iowa children are diagnosed with ADHD, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. While the condition is common and one of the most studied disorders in medicine, it still remains controversial.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Shannon Krone, a mother who struggled with her son’s behavior problems from an early age. Her son’s ADHD is more manageable with treatment, but still poses obstacles in day-to-day life.

US Department of Agriculture

An Iowa State University entomologist says he and other experts are keeping an eye on the Zika virus, but he is not too worried that it will be spread in Iowa.  The mosquito-borne virus has been found in about two-dozen Central and South American countries and has been linked to birth defects in Brazil.  

Ryan Smith is an assistant professor at Iowa State University and says Iowa’s cold winters will likely keep the mosquitoes that spread the disease away from this part of the country.

NIAID

Regulators are taking aim at foodborne illnesses caused by salmonella. The Department of Agriculture has been able to cut the amount of salmonella found on whole chickens. Now it’s putting in place stricter limits on the amount of bacteria it will allow on cut-up chicken parts and on ground chicken and turkey.

“I think it makes the industry look at things in a different way and say we’ve made progress in one aspect of the production and processing, now we need to make progress in some of these other areas,” says James Dickson, who studies food safety at Iowa State University.

Save Medicaid Action

Democrats in the Iowa Senate today ratcheted up their challenge to Governor Branstad’s plan to privatize Medicaid, the state’s health care program for the low-income and disabled.  

They introduced a bill to repeal the initiative, but Republicans are standing by the Governor’s proposal.  

Democrats say privatizing Medicaid will disrupt long-standing relations between patients and providers and compromise patient care.   Their bill would cancel the contracts with three for-profit, out of state companies chosen to manage the program.     

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

A former staffer from Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign is asking he be tried separately from his codefendant on charges related to concealing information from the Federal Election Commission. Paul's campaign manager John Tate says testimony proving his innocence will not be heard if he’s tried with deputy campaign manager Dimitri Kesari.

Courtesy Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

The U.S. is formally part of the biggest global trade partnership in history after the countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership symbolically signed the deal in New Zealand. For President Obama, now comes the hard work.  

 

Restoring Prairie on the Great Plains

Feb 4, 2016
Courtesy Prairie Plains Resource Institute

From the air, the Midwest looks like a patchwork of cropland and pastures. But before the land was turned over to plows and center pivots, most of it was a sea of grass. 

Native grasslands were first plowed by pioneers homesteading on the plains. More land was converted to crops as tractors and machinery arrived on the farm and conversion of land intensified. 

A Webster City Hot Lotto winner says he was shortchanged $10 million in his cash prize, and is now suing for that sum plus interest. The lawsuit stems from the rigging of the Hot Lotto game back in December 2010, when Multi-State Lottery Association information security employee Eddie Tipton fraudulently programmed the game to spit out a specific set of numbers and then purchased a ticket with those numbers.

Hot Lotto is a “progressive jackpot" game. If there's no winner, the money is put in the next pot with at least an additional $50,000. 

Amy Mayer

Knowing who is not going to make the presidential ballot got a little bit easier this week after the Iowa caucuses (several GOP candidates dropped out after low percentages of the vote), but determining the winners is a bit more complex.

Wendy/flickr

Republicans in the Iowa House are backing a special kind of prescription painkiller they say will help cut down on opioid abuse.   

GOP lawmakers have introduced a bill to encourage the use of tamper-proof pills for doctors to prescribe for patients likely to abuse. 

Such patients will sometimes alter the pain pills for recreational use.   

Keota Republican Jared Klein says specially formulated painkillers will discourage that.

Shanti Sellz is Johnson county's newest hire. Her focus: is going to be on planning and helping bolster the local foods supply chain around the Iowa City area. 

"I would like to focus on the access piece. There is a very large demand in this community, but there are not a lot of people who are involved," Sellz says. "We really want to create opportunities for growers to get connected with institutions – hospitals, the university, the farm to school movement." 

Pages