News

Joyce Russell / IPR

Democrats in the Iowa Senate heard from employees and former employees at the state’s mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda on Wednesday, after the institutes continue to be targeted by Governor Branstad for closing.

Nurses and other staff say patients and their families are still calling and asking for placements, even though the institutions are not accepting new patients. Ann Davison is a nurse at Clarinda who still has her job, "We've received over 120 calls from across the state, from 66 of the 99 counties."

Clay Masters / IPR

As spending on Congressional and Presidential campaigns continues to grow, politicians are starting to voice support for measures to try and get some of that money out of politics. 

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton voiced her support for a Constitutional amendment to limit campaign spending last week in a speech at Kirkwood Community College, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has also spoken in favor of taking a hard look at how much money is being spent on elections. 

Debt-Free College

Apr 22, 2015

University of Northern Iowa students, faculty and community members came together Wednesday to call on 2016 presidential candidates to support a national goal of debt-free education at institutions of higher learning. Americans for Democratic Action's Iowa organizer, Chris Schwartz says "we're here today to send a message to the presidential candidates whether it's Hilary Clinton or Ted Cruz that you need to come out and support the concept of debt-free college education if you want the support of students and the ADA in this caucus cycle." 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  The founder of the advocacy group NextGen Climate made stops in Iowa on Earth Day to ask presidential hopefuls for their support of clean energy initiatives. The wealthy environmentalist plans to spend more time in the state during the 2016 election cycle.

Tom Steyer, a California hedge fund manager, is promising to continue work he started during last year’s Congressional campaigns.

The effort aims to get politicians and voters to pay more attention to environmental issues.

A jury in northern Iowa has found a former state representative "not guilty" of sexually assaulting his late wife. Prosecutors alleged that Henry Rayhons of Garner had sex with his wife Donna, who wasn’t capable of consent due to her advanced Alzheimer’s disease. 

The jury took nearly two days to deliberate. This verdict ends a trial that has attracted international attention and raised complicated questions about the nature of consent for cognitively impaired adults.

Photo by John Pemble/IPR

A  transportation expert in the Iowa House warns Iowa's gas tax increase will fall short of meeting the state's transportation infrastructure needs.   

Burlington Democrat Dennis Cohoon says the Department of Transportation  estimates the state will need more than $215 million for road and bridge work.  The gas tax increase will bring in $204 million or less.

“Most of us are aware that this is not a long-term solution,” Cohoon says. “The revenue from the gas tax will diminish over time.” 

Cohoon says other ideas floated by the DOT should be on the table.

Flickr / MTSOfan

Roughly 3.8 million hens at a laying facility in northwest Iowa are being destroyed due to the presence of a highly pathogenic virus. H5N2, a strain of avian flu, was found Monday on at a commercial egg-laying facility in Osceola County doubling the number of affected birds nationwide. 

Originally the United States Department of Agriculture reported the Osceola flock's population to be 5.3 million birds. Rather that is the facility's capacity.

This is Iowa's second case of H5N2. Last week the virus struck a commercial turkey farm in Buena Vista County. 

Photo by Abby Wendle/Harveset Public Media

Big farms are collecting taxpayer dollars that they haven’t necessarily earned by taking advantage of a loophole in government subsidy rules, according to regulators, members of Congress and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

manhhai / flickr / Jim Stanitz Collection

Thirteen years, four months and one week after the death of the first American killed in open combat with the enemy, American troops withdrew completely from Vietnam on April 30th, 1975.

On this archive edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Bob Drury, author of a book about the final hours of the withdrawal. Also joining the conversation, former Marine platoon commander in Vietnam Dan Gannon. Gannon is now a Vietnam of America representative to the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs. 

John Pemble/IPR

The Iowa Senate today observed a milestone in the history of anti-discrimination in Iowa. Fifty years ago on April 21 the General Assembly unanimously approved the Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965, following the enactment of the U.S. Civil Rights Act in 1964.      

Reading a senate resolution, Des Moines Democrat Tony Bisignano says great strides have been made in eliminating discrimination in Iowa.  

“The Senate commends all of those individuals who made that possible,” Bisignano says.

Rachel Barton Pine spoke to me in January about her new Mozart concerto set - and since then it has earned great reviews and been chosen as one of our $15/month pledge premiums. The Telegraph said that Rachel's playing reveals "subtleties alongside the grace and exuberance that render the music endlessly fascinating and appealing"; it also praised the "ever-stylish" Sir Neville Marriner and his Academy of St.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  Iowa Writers Workshop graduate Tim Bascom was 16 years old when his parents decided to return to Ethiopia where they had served a previous mission. It was 1977. The country was in turmoil, emperor Haile Selassie booted from power, a Marxist revolution in progress. Bascom says he needed to document the experience of living through this revolt to understand how it shaped his young life.

John Pemble/IPR

Governor Branstad is urging an eastern Iowa town not to violate the spirit of the state’s new law raising the gas tax by ten cents a gallon.   

 The city of Clinton’s share of the new revenue is 470-thousand dollars, and the city council proposes spending more than half of that to hire new employees whose work would include street repair.

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate say the money should go directly into infrastructure, and Branstad agrees.

H5N2 Hits Iowa Again

Apr 20, 2015
FREEFOODPHOTOS.COM

As many as 5.3 million hens will be euthanized at a commercial laying facility in northwest Iowa as a result of the presence of H5N2. The United States Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence this highly pathogenic strain avian flu Monday.

This year there have already been more than 40 confirmed cases of the virus in commercial flocks across several Midwestern states. H5N2 supposedly is spread by migratory waterfowl, which are generally not harmed by the disease.

Green Fire Productions / flickr

During the 2014 legislative session, lawmakers approved full funding for Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) for the first time in the program’s 25 year history, but Governor Branstad line item vetoed some of that funding when he went to sign the budget.

Will lawmakers fully fund the program again this year, and what are other environmental priorities for this year’s legislature?

John Pemble

Governor Terry Branstad’s administration is proposing a $2 million dollar plan to help ease student debt. It involves giving Iowans a generous tax credit to contribute to charities, who in turn give out grants to students who volunteer for the Iowa based nonprofits. Contributors will get 65% of their contributions back in the form of tax credits.

Student debt is a growing concern for recent graduates in Iowa. Michael Bousselout, legal counsel for Branstad says that while this plan isn’t a “silver bullet,” it’s a start.

Steven Semken / Ice Cube Press

Iowa City still has the mark of Howard Moffitt all over. His hobbit-like houses sit intermingled with more traditional houses in many Iowa City neighborhoods to this day.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dr. Richard DeGowin, author of “House of Moffitt, The First 20 Years – a Memoir”.

One characteristic of the Moffitt houses is that Moffitt built them on the premise that they were to be rented out and bought by low-income tenants.

John Pemble / IPR

Democrats who control the Iowa Senate and Republicans who control the Iowa House are at still at odds over their budget targets. But there has been a little bit of movement. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checks in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to talk about this little bit of movement and about other issues before the statehouse in the coming week. 

Flickr / Pennsylvania National Guard

Closing arguments are scheduled today in the sexual assault trial of a former state representative. Henry Rayhons of Garner, Iowa may go to prison for having sex with his wife.

In March 2014 Donna Rayhons and her daughter Linda Dunshee had lunch. Dunshee, who had power of attorney, says her mother acted confused during the meal and had troubled using the restroom. 

Clay Masters / IPR

  The state’s largest water utility is restarting its nitrate removal equipment because levels of the pollutant are spiking in the rivers Des Moines uses for drinking water. 

The Des Moines Water Works recently sued three northwest Iowa counties (Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties) saying water from agricultural drainage districts contributes to the high level of nitrates. 

Sean Dreilinger / flickr

We all have chins, but why humans have chins when other species don’t, is controversial. It’s also the focus of research at the University of Iowa.

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer discusses the great anthropological chin debate with Bob Franciscus, UI professor of anthropology.

“Natural selection is not an engineer, but a tinkerer," says Franciscus.

Ken_from_MD / Flickr

Walk into a garden center this time of year, and you’ll be greeted with row upon row of colorful flowers and other bedding plants. But all that variety can seem a bit overwhelming at times.

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, horticulturists Richard Jauron and Chris Curry of Iowa State University put your worries to bed when it comes to approaching your big trip to the garden center.

It all starts out with having a game plan before even stepping foot in the garden center, so you know what to look for.

reynermedia / Flickr

Evangelical Protestants are more likely than any other religious group to be climate change skeptics, according to a November 2014 report from the Public Religion Research Institute. But one Evangelical Christian disagrees. 

Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and the director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She says it's frustrating that people see religion and climate science as mutually exclusive.

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa drivers with handicapped parking permits are being warned of a safety hazard, and the head of the Transportation Committee in the Iowa House is taking steps to fix it.  

The House has approved a measure by Osage Republican Josh Byrnes that will redesign the parking placards so it’s clearer they should be taken down while driving.  

“It’s an obstruction to the vision of the driver,” Byrnes says. “It's been brought to my attention from bicyclists and motorcyclists. Because they're smaller than a car or truck, it’s harder to see those folks.” 

All photos are courtesy Roy R. Beherns

Camouflage. It has invaded our everyday wardrobe; from dessert tan, to jungle green and an array of bewildering designs. 100 years ago next month, a maritime disaster helped bring urgency to improving military camouflage and several Iowans were among those joining the cause. This Iowa Archives special was prepared by IPR’s Rick Fredericksen.  

Seventy years ago, Walt Disney was producing propaganda films during World War Two. This cartoon advocates a defensive tactic that goes back to the beginning of life. 

Join Suzanne Bona & Barney Sherman on Sunday starting at 11AM for an on-air Bach Party. They'll share some of their favorite Bach recordings - and also some of yours! For the broadcast, Suzanne will pre-empt the last hour of Sunday Baroque, and co-host with Barney until 1 PM; then he'll continue until 4. Do you have a special favorite Bach recording? Let us know what it is and why you like it. Email classical@iowapublicradio.org (put "Bach Favorite" or something like that in the subject line), or go to our Facebook post about the Bach Favorites Party and comment there.

Stephen Harris/Flickr

When Senator Bill Dotzler got food poisoning in Storm Lake, he decided to do something about it.

He introduced Senate File 256 to the legislature with intentions of funneling more funding into food inspections around the state. Traditionally in Iowa, restaurant inspections have been done by the counties, but increasingly counties have been looking to the state to take charge.

Aaron Hall

About half to two-thirds of adults in the U.S. use dietary supplements on a regular basis, contributing to an industry that generated more than $6 billion in 2013.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with experts about an investigation, led by New York’s Attorney General, which found that only 21 percent of common supplements actually had DNA from the plants advertised on the labels.

John Pemble/IPR

The head of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy was in charge when an assistant director was accused of sexual harassment.

Now a deadline has passed for the Iowa Senate to confirm ILEA Director Arlen Ciechanowski for another term.   

Problems at the agency surfaced during a Senate Oversight Committee hearing last year on the hiring and firing practices of the Branstad administration.     A 2012 investigation concluded assistant director Michael Quinn made offensive remarks to female recruits.   Quinn stayed in his position until Director Ciechanowski fired him last year. 

Photo Courtesy of Noreen Gosch

Noreen Gosch has been searching for justice for her missing son Johnny for more than 30 years. A new documentary about her battle to find her son makes its theatrical premier in Iowa next week.

Michael Galinsky, one of three filmmakers who worked on the film Who Took Johnny, says it was both a heartbreaking and compelling project.

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