Sarah Boden

Reporter

Sarah Boden is a general assignment reporter for Iowa Public Radio based in Des Moines. Before coming to Iowa, she was a freelance reporter and radio producer in the Twin Cities. In addition to IPR, Sarah's work has appeared on NPR, WBUR's "Here and Now" and Harvest Public Media.

Sarah's favorite public radio program is All Things Considered.

Ways To Connect

Flickr / Lord Jim

A bill that aims to curtail distracted driving passed out of the Iowa Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday.

The legislation would make the use of a smartphone or similar device a "primary offense," which would allow police officers to pull someone over  just for emailing or texting while driving. The police currently can not do that.

The Transportation Committee’s ranking member, Republican Sen. Tim Kapucian of Keystone, says the greater number of drivers using smartphones and similar devices makes roads increasingly dangerous.

Don Graham

Iowa has the highest average for indoor radon concentration in the nation, according to the University of Iowa. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports the radioactive gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless, so people may breath the gas for years before it's detected.

Women’s Choice Center

A 2012 study found 87 percent of women who seek an abortion were highly confident about the decision before receiving any pre-abortion counseling. But what if a woman changes her mind?

Abortion reversal is a method touted by San Deigo-based Dr. George Delgado. He started building a network of doctors and nurses to preform reversals three years ago.  Today this network is active in 34 states including Iowa.

Flickr / Hibr

A bill in the Iowa Senate aims to expand the legal protections of domestic violence victims.

Under Iowa criminal law victims of domestic violence in dating relationships only have access to heightened protections if they are living with their abuser. A bill that gives victims access to certain protections, even if they aren't cohabitating, passed unanimously in the Senate Judiciary Committee today and will soon come before the entire chamber for a vote.

Sen. Janet Petersen, a Des Moines Democrat, says violence in dating relations can be just as deadly as marital violence.

Flickr / Daniel Morrison

As Iowa’s Secretary of State works to implement online voter registration, the Iowa legislature weighs in.

A subcommittee in the Iowa Senate is considering a bill that allows voters to provide their birth date and a unique identifying number, like the last four digits of a Social Security number, to register to vote online. Voters would then verify their identity with an electronic signature. 

A subcommittee in the Iowa Senate chose not to pass the current version of a juvenile sentencing bill, but instead are looking for suggestions on how to improve the legislation. 

The bill allows for judges to sentence juveniles guilty of first-degree murder to life without parole, life with the possibility of parole, and life with the possibility of parole only after 35 years.  

Flickr / Dr. Warner

The Iowa Supreme Court says it’s legal for cities to issue tickets to vehicle owners using traffic cameras. Attorney Michael Jacobsma, who represented himself, says the city of Sioux City denied him due process when he was mailed a citation, after his vehicle was spotted by a traffic camera going 67 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour speed zone. 

Flickr / gosheshe

A bill that bans minors from commercial tanning beds due to risk of skin cancer has cleared a committee in the Iowa House, despite objections from a coalition of Republicans on the panel.  

Rep. Ken Rizer, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, says parents should decide whether their 16 or 17 year old can tan since older teens are legally able to participate in other potentially hazardous activities. 

Flickr / TumblingRun

The value of farmland in the Corn Belt is dipping. In Iowa value dropped 7 percent last year. 

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

A Cedar Rapids psychiatrist is concerned with the closing of the Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institute and a general lack of mental health services, including specialized residential programs.

The closing of Mt. Pleasant means the state's only residential program that caters to people with both psychiatric and substance abuse issues will discontinue.  Dr. Al Whitters says this is a much-needed service.

Flickr /M Glasgow

The teen birth rate in Iowa is down more than 35 percent since the year 2000.

That’s according to the 2013 Iowa Kids Count report. The annual study released by the Des Moines-based Child and Family Policy Center charts trends in child wellbeing in the state of Iowa.

John Pemble/IPR

The AIB College of Business announced new details today about the gifting of its 20-acre Des Moines campus to the University of Iowa.  

The campus will be renamed the Regional Regents Center. It's located two miles from the Des Moines airport and is comprised of 17 buildings, including apartment-style student housing. 

Carl Wycoff

A bill in the Iowa house would allow school districts to levy taxes to supplement transportation costs, but some say the legislation doesn't do enough to help rural districts.

Many school districts in rural Iowa cover a large geographic area, so a sizable portion of general operating budgets is spent on busing at the expense of other expenditures like text books and teacher salaries. Enabling school boards to raise property or income taxes to address transportation costs would allow districts more budgeting leeway. 

USDA/Anson Eaglin

President Obama wants all food safety regulation handled by a single new federal agency. 

Currently the Department of Agriculture oversees meat, poultry and egg production, while the Food and Drug Administration handles most other foods including produce and fish. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says though, in theory, he supports consolidating federal responsibilities to one department, he prefers food inspection to stay under the purview of the USDA. 

Iowa lawmakers from the House and Senate weighed the benefits of closing two of the state's four mental health institutes, during a joint subcommittee today.

Under Gov. Terry Branstad’s proposal the Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant facilities would close, consolidating adult psychiatric services at Independence and Cherokee mental health institutes.  Clarinda has 9 inpatient psychiatric beds and Mt. Pleasant 15.

Photo by John Pemble

Des Moines-based AIB College of Business is merging with the University of Iowa, thus increasing UI’s presence in central Iowa.

Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction

The Iowa Supreme Court says the good deed of one defendant did not unfairly sway the jury's opinion of his codefendant. 

Mercedes Potter

Iowa’s tourism industry does not support a bill in the Iowa House that would allow school districts and private accredited schools to begin the academic year earlier than Sept. 1.  The industry worries an earlier start to the school year would deplete the high-school-age workforce during late summer.

Gaela Wilson of the Iowa Group Travel Association says tourism greatly affects small town economies since summertime dollars flow into the rest of the community.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S.  Supreme Court ruling which over turned state laws banning abortion. But the issue of abortion is still hotly debated.  

Standing in an exam room I’m waiting to meet with Dr. Jill Meadows, a Planned Parenthood of the Heartland physician based in Iowa City. I’m in Des Moines, but really I could be at any of nine Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa because I’ll be speaking with Meadows using a two-way video conference.

cwwycoff1/Flickr

Iowa’s senior U.S. senator put forth legislation today to protect farmers during bankruptcy.

Young of Iowa

Iowa Congressman David Young says his first week in Congress was extremely busy.

John Pemble

U.S.  Senator Joni Ernst will be the first freshman senator to give the GOP rebuttal to the State of the Union address.    

John Pemble

Chief Justice Mark Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court says Iowa’s criminal justice system is marked by racial disparities. In his State of the Judiciary address today, Cady told legislators he wants that to change.

According to the 2010 Census, in Iowa 9.4 percent of adult African American men are incarcerated. That's the third highest percentage of incarcerated African American men in the nation.

Skidmore/Flickr

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says now that Republicans are in control of the Senate, he wants a greater focus on Congressional oversight.

One way the Iowa Republican is affecting this shift is by co-sponsoring a bill that changes Congressional budgeting from a one-year to a two-year cycle. He says the second year of the schedule allows Congress more time for the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal programs.

John Pemble / IPR

Clay Masters: It's Morning Edition on Iowa Public Radio. I'm Clay Masters. Governor Terry Branstad delivers his condition of the state speech this morning where he'll lay out his priorities in 2015. We sat down with the governor in his formal office at this capitol yesterday to get a bit of a preview. I start by asking the governor if this is the year a funding method will be approved to fix the state's deficent roads and bridges. 

Iowa Prison Industries

The Iowa Supreme Court says inmates can increase payments for court-ordered restitution, even if the amount they pay to the Iowa Department of Corrections is reduced. 

United Soybean Board

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association says Iowa produced 227 million gallons of biodiesel in 2014. 

Gage Skidmore

Though Ohio Republican John Boehner won a third term as Speaker of the House, he does not have a friend in Iowa Congressman Rod Blum of Dubuque.

Gage Skidmore

With the 114th Congress sworn in, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley takes the reins of the Senate Judiciary Committee as chairman.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

A semi-truck carrying approximately 800 boxes from retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin's Washington office arrived at Drake University today.  Inside are papers and other archival materials—photos, video, mementos—that will now call the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement "home."

The boxes chronicle Harkin's four-decade-long congressional career.  The Cumming native served 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 30 years in the Senate. 

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