News

Todd Dorman / The Gazette

Republican Party of Iowa leadership Friday morning voted unanimously to cancel the 2015 Iowa Straw Poll. 

The event, which had been scheduled for August 8 in Boone, had drawn commitments from only two Republican presidential hopefuls. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had already announced their intentions to skip the event, which included a presidential preference vote. 

"We set the table and the candidates weren't coming to supper," says Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann.

History lessons about World War II often focus on places where battles were fought, but a new play examines the conflict’s effect on life in a small town.  The story for “Bonds of War” centers around real events and people working at the Adair County Free Press in Greenfield, Iowa during the 1940s.  It’s written by Des Moines author John Busbee.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

If you’ve been searching for a new book to read this summer, look no further. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Paul Ingram and Jan Weismiller of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Susan Shaffer of The Book Shoppe in Boone about the best new books out this summer.

Aquarium by David Vann

John Pemble / IPR

These are the remarks, as delivered, by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham at the Iowa GOP's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, May 16, 2015.

Courtesy of the Justice Corps of Iowa / Facebook

With comic books, science fiction, and superheroes, geek culture is having a moment. Phil Hester, a comic book illustrator and author from North English, Ia, says that is due to its traction in mainstream movies.

“Now all this stuff that you couldn’t dream of looking real, sounding real, and moving in a real way, now can be done on screen. That has opened it up to a sea of people that wouldn’t be caught dead walking in a comic book store.”

Recapping Iowa's 2015 Legislative Session

Jun 10, 2015
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The 2015 legislative session will be remembered for what it didn’t get done as much as what it did.

Lawmakers passed a 10 cent increase in the state’s gas tax, and they expanded broadband. They also left legislation regarding bullying, guns and medical marijuana sitting idle, and it's still in question whether Governor Terry Branstad will call a special session to sort out a two-year budget for K-12 school funding. 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A squadron of brand new military helicopters could soon be based at the Des Moines Airport. The Iowa National Guard has started receiving the latest model of Black Hawks (UH-60 Mike), to replace older aircraft that have been based in Boone. The Des Moines air base has available hanger space to keep the expensive choppers protected from inclement weather, according to Warrant Officer Joedy Vanvelzen.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Construction and training are progressing as the Iowa Air National Guard moves into the final year of its conversion at the Des Moines Airport. After losing its squadron of F-16 fighter jets, the unit now has three new missions: intelligence, cyber security and flying unmanned aircraft. Col. Greg Hapgood is Guard spokesman.  

John Bollwitt

Traditional, big American breweries are in the midst of a global identity crisis. Meanwhile, craft beer microbreweries in the U.S. are flourishing like never before.

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Iowa Utilities Board has issued a schedule of deadlines for the controversial Bakken crude oil pipeline which would criss-cross the state from northwest to southeast.   

The schedule indicates the board will rule on the Dakota Access application by December or January.      

Dakota Access is a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer.The pipeline would transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.  

Don Shall / Flickr

When looking at Iowa waterways, it's easy to overlook the furrier creatures--otters, mink, muskrats, and of course, beavers.  

"They are engineers, there's no question about it," says Jim Pease, wildlife expert.

Facilities management arborist at the University of Iowa, Andy Dahl, decided to take advantage of that engineering instinct.

"What they've actually done is help us open the vistas. They are almost the perfect employees," says Dahl. "They work the night shift, they don't call in sick; they're so efficient I'm afraid they may jump over me in the org chart."

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

It didn’t take the Iowa State University athletic department long to name a replacement for outgoing head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg.

A week after Hoiberg officially left to take the helm of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, Murray State head coach Steve Prohm was introduced as the new leader of the Cyclones.

The 40-year-old Prohm has been coaching at the Kentucky school for nine years, the last four as head coach.

So he says a move to a new community will take an adjustment.

IPR file photo by John Pemble

Iowa’s senior U.S. senator says the federal rule-making process is out of control. Republican Chuck Grassley says recent changes to the Renewable Fuels Standard and Waters of the US Rule were made without adequate Congressional oversight.

“Regulation should be high-quality, based on sound-science and crafted in (the) open, with the public’s participation,” Grassley says, “and properly reviewable by the courts. Transparency brings accountability.”

Flickr / Jeff Kubina

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case next term involving a $5.8 million class-action lawsuit arising from a pork processing plant in northwest Iowa. Tyson Foods Inc. say that employees at its Storm Lake facility don't have enough in common to join in a single class-action lawsuit.

Clay Masters / IPR

Around the start of the new millennium, the eyes of the nation turned to Omaha, Neb., and bands like Bright Eyes and its label Saddle Creek Records. As it often does, the spotlight has flickered elsewhere in the search of what's next. But Omaha's music scene is still going strong: there are a number of new albums coming out this year with ties to the Midwestern city.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Economics teachers across the country use blackboards and chalk to teach people about supply and demand. The Planet Money team hands out candy to seventh graders.

Planet Money, a twice weekly podcast from NPR, sprung from an episode of This American Life that explained the subprime mortgage crisis. For the past six years, they’ve covered everything from the history of light to toxic assets, all to make the economy and finance more understandable to the average person.

John Pemble / IPR

State lawmakers have gone home for the legislative session. It was another year of Republicans controlling the Iowa House and Democrats leading the Iowa Senate. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell one last time about the lengthy legislative session. 

Clay Masters/IPR

Seven candidates and one potential candidate for the Republican nomination for president were on hand at the Central Iowa Expo in Boone on Saturday for a fundraiser hosted by Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst.  

The expo grounds are also this year’s site for the Iowa GOP’s traditional cattle call for candidates, the Iowa Straw Poll.   

Ben Barringer, a software engineer, drove down to Boone from Lake Mills in far north Iowa with a couple of potential favorite candidates in mind

“I’m very excited for Ted Cruz and Scott Walker,” Barringer says.   

Clay Masters / IPR

A herd of Republican presidential candidates spent some time in Iowa farm country this weekend. They were there for a fundraiser called Roast and Ride, a motorcycle ride and barbecue organized by Republican Sen. Joni Ernst.

Ernst, a political newcomer, is making herself a force in presidential politics.

Clay Masters / IPR

Every four years, politicians and the reporters who cover them spend months in Iowa wooing voters ahead of the February caucuses. There's inevitably lots of photo ops with grain silos and corn fields in the background, not to mention interviews with weathered farmers who are supposed to stand in for the state's two million registered voters.

Photo by John Pemble

Budget disputes prevailed to the very end, as the Iowa legislature today wrapped up its 2015 legislative session.    It now remains to be seen if the governor signs all of the roughly seven-point-three billion dollars in spending approved in the waning days.  

It was the  145th day of what was supposed to be a 110 day session.     

As the Senate put its finishing touches on education funding,    Ames Democrat Herman Quirmbach got in one last complaint.

“This bill is a band aid on a festering sore in the area of education,” Quirmbach says.

Photo by John Pemble

Tallying results from the Iowa presidential caucuses will rely on mobile technology for the first time in 2016. The Democratic and Republican parties and Microsoft jointly announced that apps are being developed for each party that will tabulate precinct results, verify them, and quickly make them publicly available.

“The caucus results will be delivered via this new mobile-enabled, cloud-based platform that will help facilitate these accurate and timely results,” says Dan’l Lewin, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Technology and Civic Engagement.

Schampeo/flickr

It's clear that the sale of so-called farm-raised deer will be taxed under a bill that passed in the final hours of the 2015 legislative session.   Debate was marked by passionate input from a leading hunting advocate in the Iowa Senate. 

Up to now, some farmers had been considering the sales to be tax-exempt in the manner of the sales of other livestock such as hogs or cattle.

Des Moines Democrat Dick Dearden says deer which are raised on farms to be sold to preserves are not raised for meet, as other farm animals are.     They’re raised for their antlers.

Sam 17 / Flickr

Freda Sojka, CEO of Soothing Solutions, created Bug Soother in the wake of the 2008 floods, when gnats were bothering her five-month-old grandson. She had no idea that less than a decade later it'd be distributed throughout the world.

"If I'd known all that at the beginning, I might have named it differently. We're pretty stuck with the name now," she said with a laugh.

This Spring, Bug Soother launched in the UK. And Sojka is looking at other countries to introduce Bug Soother to; Panama is next on the list.

Oleg Yunakov / Wikimedia Commons

Why won’t my flowers bloom? They used to.

That’s a question that many gardeners are faced with at some point. Aaron Steil, program manager for Reiman Gardens in Ames, says it’s important to remember that gardens aren’t static. Sometimes spaces that were once full sun can become partial shade.

“Occasionally you’ll see this clump of iris that just won’t produce flowers anymore. Some gardners forget that sometimes our gardeners change. Take a step back and look at it with new eyes," he says.

Emily Woodbury

When you put together your perfect playlist, how much of the music comes from your youth?

A new study says that most people stop seeking out new music around age 33, and some people believe that our most important cultural tastes are set in our teen years.

John Pemble/IPR

The Iowa House and Senate have reached a compromise on Governor Branstad’s proposal to encourage more broadband in the state, one of his top priorities for two years in a row.  

It’s one of several pieces that are falling into place as lawmakers strive toward adjournment.  

A House-passed bill offered property tax abatements for communications companies that expand broadband into underserved areas.   But Senate Democrats questioned   whether more Iowans would actually be served.

Ryannic/flickr

A fight by Iowa cities over where communications  companies can erect cellphone towers has been resolved at the statehouse.  

That eliminates one more roadblock as lawmakers slog toward adjournment of the 2015 session.  

Des Moines Democrat Janet Peterson says interested parties hammered out an agreement on how much say-so cities can have.

‘We had a number of concessions where the League of Cities came together,” Peterson.   “They said they thought they could live with the changes that are being made.”

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King says the government’s top priorities in the ongoing avian flu outbreak are safe clean-up of infected sites and indemnity payments for affected farmers. But right behind those, he says, is a need to better understand what has happened.

"The next thing that is important in that list of priorities is to complete the epidemiology study, which is the study on how did this disease get here in the first place and how did it spread after it got here?"

John Pemble / IPR

These are the remarks, as delivered, by former business executive Carly Fiorina at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Summit April 25, 2015 in Waukee.

Pages