news

Joyce Russell/IPR

More than 4,000 people turned out in Des Moines last night to see President-elect Donald Trump on his first return to the state since the November election. Des Moines was one stop on his "thank you" tour of states that helped him win. Trump introduced Governor Branstad as his choice for U.S. Ambassador to China. Trump was in town just one day after news of Branstad’s appointment was confirmed. “I am honored to welcome to the stage the next Ambassador to China, your governor Terry Branstad,”...

Sarah Boden/IPR

Republicans in the Iowa House say one of their top priorities in the next legislative session is supplemental state aid for Iowa school districts. That’s according to Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, who met with reporters after her caucus discussed legislative priorities on Thursday. Upmeyer says ideally, the amount of money Iowa schools will receive from the state will be set within the first 30 days of the 2017 legislative session. "We know schools need that," she says....

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa's beef producers have agreed to spend an extra 50 cents a head for a state checkoff. Checkoff programs fund marketing and education for a variety of agricultural products. The state conducted a referendum on Nov. 30 to see whether cattle producers wanted to re-establish a state checkoff. About 1,700 of the state's nearly 27,000 beef producers voted in the referendum, with 56 percent approving the proposal. Iowa had a state checkoff from 1970-1985, says Chris Freland, executive director...

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A number of health organizations are joining the push to fund the dormant Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. They contend it will lead Iowans to more active lifestyles. Iowa voters approved the fund by 63 percent in 2010. It has never held any money. Supporters are calling on the Legislature to approve a three-eighths cent sales tax increase to fill its coffers. A campaign coordinator with the American Heart Association, Seth Johnson, says his group is joining Iowa’s Water...

Photo by Joyce Russell/IPR

Just a day after Governor Branstad met with President-Elect Donald Trump the news is now official. Branstad has accepted an invitation to become U.S. Ambassador to China. Officials from both parties are weighing in. Now the speculation begins on the political ramifications of Branstad leaving office. A spokesman for the Trump transition team said it’s Branstad’s experience in public policy, trade, and agriculture that won him the job. Former Iowa Democratic Governor and now soon-to-be...

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

A Washington, D.C.-based think tank is out with a report looking at the degree to which high-tech innovation contributes to the economy in each of the nation’s 435 Congressional districts. Iowa’s four districts are showing large numbers for the exports of high-tech manufactured goods and intellectual property. The report comes from the non-partisan Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. It shows the value of high-tech manufacturing exports in Iowa is around $2.1 billion. Another ...

Amy Mayer/IPR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is being recognized for encouraging young people to choose careers that will help farmers combat climate change and feed more people. Since 2011, USDA has partnered with the Des Moines-based World Food Prize to offer fellowships in Washington, D.C. for agriculture students. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa Democratic governor, returned to Des Moines to accept the World Food Prize Medallion on behalf of his department. He spoke directly to...

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Cedar Rapids police officer who shot a black man during a traffic stop last month, leaving him paralyzed, will not be charged with a crime. Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden says a grand jury decided there wasn’t enough evidence to indict Officer Lucas Jones in the shooting of Jerime Mitchell. Jones reportedly told investigators from the Division of Criminal Investigation that the traffic stop became physical after Mitchell attempted to reenter his truck. Jones tried to stop...

John Pemble/IPR file photo

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Gov. Terry Branstad to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, pending Senate confirmation. The word from the Trump transition team comes a day after the two men met at Trump Tower in New York City. If Branstad becomes ambassador, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds would become the first woman to serve as Iowa governor. The possibility that Branstad could be tapped for the Beijing post gained traction after Trump praised him at a pre-election rally in Sioux City, at...

Iowa Department of Education

A report issued Tuesday gives an early glimpse at how well the state’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation Program is working. The study indicates improved classroom instruction, which is yet to show up in the form of improved student achievement. The $150 million program has been rolling out across the state over the past three years. It offers financial rewards to teachers who take on leadership roles by coaching younger peers. The study by the American Institutes for Research looked at the...

Principal Financial Group

The Des Moines-based financial services company Principal Financial Group is projecting steady growth during 2017. The expectations follow a pattern of revenue increases the company has seen over the past several years. The international division at Principal is anticipating the most revenue growth over the next year with projections of an 11-to-14 percent increase. In recent years, the company has become the second largest provider of pension-income in Latin America, and has partnered with...

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Update Dec. 7 at 8:09 am: Several news reports quote unnamed sources saying President-elect Trump has offered the ambassadorship to Branstad and that he has accepted. Gov. Branstad's spokesman, Ben Hammes, tells IPR the report is "premature and not confirmed." We will update this story as we learn more. Tuesday's story: Governor Branstad had what he calls a cordial conversation today with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York City. But the governor...

John Pemble/IPR

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann says he will seek another term after leading his party to major victories in the 2016 election. Iowa's top Republicans, including Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, Governor Branstad, and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, wrote Kaufmann a letter Friday, asking him to stay on as the party's chairman. No one else has emerged to challenge Kaufmann, so it's likely he'll be re-elected January 28th when the Iowa GOP's state central committee meets. Kaufmann...

Sarah Boden/IPR

Protesters gathered at the offices of the Iowa Utilities Board on Monday to celebrate the Army Corps of Engineers stopping pipeline construction in North Dakota. Iowa’s Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition also delivered a letter to the state utilities board, urging it to revoke the pipeline’s Iowa permit. The Army Corps’s decision to not allow the pipeline to cross a reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is not a fatal blow to Dakota Access. The pipeline could be rerouted, and...

Jimmy Centers / Office of Governor Terry Branstad

Governor Branstad will meet later this week in New York City with president-elect Donald Trump amid speculation the governor will be asked to become U.S. Ambassador to China. Branstad is rumored to be among Trump’s top choices for the job. This past weekend, a Bloomberg Politics report said Branstad is the frontrunner for the post. Branstad leaves for a previously-scheduled economic development trip to New York City Tuesday and is scheduled to meet at some point with Trump before he leaves...

Jessica Reznicek

An Iowa woman says she ended her two-week fast in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline last night. Jessica Reznicek had a bowl of chicken soup after the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement that puts completion of pipeline construction at an impasse. The Army Corps has denied permission of pipeline construction for a section of the route in North Dakota. But it said the pipeline may be rerouted, so Reznicek is continuing her efforts to oppose Dakota Access, including a Wednesday sit-in...

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...

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. The study involved 43 school districts and one community organization. The results show the summer programs helped struggling readers maintain their reading skills, but on average did not improve them. The principal investigator of the study and director...

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. "We'll able to go back and do a review to see, 'OK, based on this is the treatment practice based...

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. “Other states are taxing digitally delivered goods now,” Harris...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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. The 1,300-acre site will be known as the Big Cedar Industrial Center. It will sit near rail lines, an interstate highway and the Eastern Iowa Airport. Negotiations are underway with nearby landowners to secure the property. An economic development...

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. "Hopefully nonprofit partners look at Giving Tuesday as just a launch pad to get these new donors, or build existing donors and then...

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. “It uses technological mapping, interactive mapping, to link commuters, folks looking to ride with other folks,” said DOT acting director Mark Lowe. “It helps them create routes for either a single or a...

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...

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...

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

The corn and soybeans so abundant in Iowa could someday replace many of the plastic pots and flats at your local garden shop. Researchers at Iowa State University set about to create pots for plants that were not made from petroleum products and that could biodegrade. They started with a corn-based bioplastic and tried a number of different formulas. Some of those included a polymer made from soybeans. "The plastics that had a soy component were consistently leading to plants with darker...

Pages