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Think Before You Drink

Jul 3, 2015
Courtesy photo

The Fourth of July is one of Iowa’s most popular holidays for boating, but historically it’s been one of the most dangerous. State Department of Natural Resources boating safety expert, Susan Stocker says many accidents and injuries can be prevented with good planning. She says Iowa law requires that the water craft have onboard; one life jacket per person as well as other equipment.

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Governor Branstad Thursday vetoed millions of dollars in state spending the legislature approved last month, saying some of the appropriations are unsustainable. 

He trimmed back the more than seven billion dollar state budget for the fiscal year that started this week. 

The vetoes cut education spending for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the Regents Universities.  

Education advocates call the K-12 cuts shameful.   Regents President Bruce Rastetter says they’ll begin considering what tuition levels should be next spring. 

Flickr / Ellen Macdonald

Iowa is the first state nationwide to move all of its document filings for the district court system online. The process will likely be completed later this year for Iowa’s appellate courts.  

Up until now, many Iowans had go to their country courthouse during business hours to deal with legal matters. People can now file and view legal documents using the internet, and see the court docket online. 

John Pemble/IPR

Governor Branstad is hearing from county attorneys around the state, as he debates whether to sign a last-minute item in a catch-all spending bill.  

The provision would privatize the collection of court fines and fees to bring in an estimated $12 million more next year.    

The Judicial Branch has pushed to improve the collection of delinquent fines.  The bill would bypass the state’s Central Collection Unit and assign the work to a private debt collector.   

The founder of a global anti-poverty organization is the recipient of the 2015 World Food Prize. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed created BRAC in his native Bangladesh, but the non-governmental organization has grown to provide economic and social programs to poor communities in many countries. It's one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world and some say it is the most effective at alleviating poverty.

DonkeyHotey/flickr

An immigrant rights group has polled likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers to get their views on immigration.   The group hopes to use the results to influence the Republican race for President. 

The Partnership for a New American Economy commissioned the poll of 400 likely GOP caucus-goers.  

Seventy-seven percent support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and fewer than one in five favor deportation.   

Republican strategist John Stineman says the survey shows a pro-reform candidate can win in Iowa. 

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

It’s been more than two weeks since the last reported outbreak of avian influenza in Iowa. For now, it appears the virus's spread has stopped.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture says all flocks hit by the disease have been completely euthanized. Efforts are focusing on composting, disinfecting and preventing future outbreaks.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad says last week’s momentous U.S. Supreme Court ruling will not have a big impact in Iowa, since same-sex marriage has been well-established in the state since 2009.  

The governor today commented on the fact that county officials in other states may try to deny licenses to same-sex couples in protest.   

Branstad says he’s not aware of any way that could happen here.

Iowa DNR

Trumpeter swans were abundant throughout Iowa in the 1800s, but pioneers commonly shot swans from the sky in fear of potential crop damage and they were harvested to near extinction by hunters. Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician Dave Hoffman says thanks to the help of volunteers, these majestic white birds were able to be reintroduced to the state in 1995 and continue making their comeback with more than 45 nesting pairs spotted last year.

Photo by Brian Seifferlein/Harvest Public Media

Rodeo season is getting into full swing and at most rodeos, bull riding is the main event. But when the bull ride ends, the work begins for rodeo bullfighters, and a young bullfighter is making a name in the business by putting himself in the middle of the action.

At bull riding time at the Plum Creek Rodeo in Lexington, Neb., the rodeo corral is under the lights and the sun is a ripe orange in the west. Rowdy Moon bounces on the balls of his feet like a boxer waiting for the match to start.

Operation Dry Water

Jun 25, 2015
U.S Coast Guard

Operation Dry Water is set to begin tomorrow as state, federal, and local law enforcement continue to focus on the state’s boating while intoxicated laws and draw public attention to the hazards of boating under the influence.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Ohio Governor John Kasich, the latest Republican to say he’s interested in running for his party’s nomination for president, attracted a crowd of about 200 people in Des Moines today.   

During a forum at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Kasich distinguished himself from the rest of the field.  He criticized the pro-ethanol renewable fuel standard, and called for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. 

Kasich says the Republican Party is his vehicle, not his master.

Photo by Austin Kirk/Flickr

Current high egg prices are likely to continue, as the nation’s flock of egg-laying hens is at its smallest since 2004 thanks to the massive outbreak of avian influenza this spring.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s official numbers show nationally egg production dropped five percent in May compared to May 2014. But in Iowa, the nation’s largest egg producer and the state whose hens took the hardest hit from the flu, the figure is 28 percent.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad Monday went to a John Deere dealership in Perry to sign a bill to facilitate more broadband in Iowa.     

It’s dubbed the Connect Acre Bill, and Branstad says agriculture is just one business that will benefit from more high-speed internet access.   

The bill includes property tax breaks for communications companies to build out broadband to underserved areas, but not the five million dollars in grants the governor asked for. 

Photo by John Pemble

It appears that Governor Branstad is not ruling out an appeal of Friday’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for continued use of so-called telemed abortions.  

The court ruled that the Iowa Board of Medicine placed an unconstitutional burden on women when it banned the administration of abortion-inducing drugs without a doctor in the room. 

Under the procedure, a doctor uses two-way telecommunication to oversee a patient taking an abortion-inducing drug. Governor Branstad disagrees with the ruling.

Photo by Abby Wendle/Harveset Public Media

 

It’s Monday, around 9 o’clock, and the library is locked for the night.

Silently, Linda Zellmer appears on the other side of the glass door. She opens it and guides us up four dark floors towards a puddle of light.

“There it is,” she says, gazing down at the swollen bud of an orchid cactus. “It’s slowly opening.”

Zellmer perches on a stool behind her camera and waits in anticipation of the night’s big event: the moment when the bud opens.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

Chemical runoff from agricultural land in the Midwest continues to contribute to an oxygen-deprived area in the Gulf of Mexico, and the so-called Dead Zone is not shrinking, despite ongoing efforts.

Photo by Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

 

In Iowa, one in eight people struggles with hunger. Nationally, that figure is one in six. Food pantries across the country pass out food to help these people put meals on the table. But what if they could help teach the pantry visitors how to grow their own food, too?

Grow Well Missouri, a program that travels to food pantries around central Missouri, is trying to do just that, passing out seeds and starter plants to low-income locals.

Veggie Vendors

Jun 19, 2015
Courtesy photo

A pilot project that began in a University of Northern Iowa classroom has moved outdoors and is providing fresh produce to a couple of Waterloo neighborhoods where access to fruits and vegetables is limited by both income and language.

UNI Professor Kamyar Enshayan has been involved in local food programs for a number of years, most notably the Buy Fresh Buy Local initiative. He encourages his students to develop ideas to feed under-served neighborhoods and that’s how the Waterloo Mobile Produce Stand was born.

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa’s two Republican U.S. Senators Tuesday split their votes on a measure to strengthen the U.S. ban on torturing detainees.  

Senator Chuck Grassley voted yes on an amendment to bolster current law and give the Red Cross access to all detainees.   Senator Joni Ernest was among 21 Senators voting no.

“It is not wise to let our enemies known what our techniques are--that allows them to train, resist, and defeat it," Ernst said.

She says the president should be able to authorize torture if there’s a potential threat against Americans. 

Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Bill Northey attended an avian influenza support prayer supper in Buena Vista County Wednesday night. The picnic of pulled pork sandwiches and salads was in support of affected poultry producers.

Northey told the group of roughly 175 people that communities need to pull together during difficult times.

“It’s important to do what you’re doing tonight. And that’s put your arms around the folks that went through this, let them know how much you care,” Northey says. “We’ll get through this.”

Clay Masters / IPR

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was campaigning in Iowa Wednesday, two days after announcing he's running for the Republican party nomination for president. 

His campaign chose small towns for town-hall style meetings. In Washington, Iowa he took questions from the press including one about Pope Francis’ view that a revolution is needed to combat climate change.

Photo by Eleanor Klibanoff for Harvest Public Media

It's no longer enough for restaurants to offer roasted chicken or braised beef shank on their menus. They need to be able to tell customers exactly where that chicken came from and how the cow was raised. If they can remember the pedigree of the produce? All the better. 

But serving locally sourced food is a challenge for chefs, and the farmer-foodie connections aren’t always easy to come by.  

Photo by John Pemble

Billionaire real estate magnate Donald Trump made his first Iowa visit Tuesday, after officially declaring his candidacy for president earlier in the day. The Republican told a crowd of roughly 450 people at  the Hoyt Sherman Place auditorium in Des Moines that his wealth would keep him independent of special interests while serving in the White House.

Joyce Russell/IPR

By a vote of seven to two, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission Tuesday sided with developers over environmentalists and homeowners when it comes to putting back topsoil after new homes and businesses go up.     

The new rules will no longer require at least four inches of topsoil.     

Federal rules require restoration of topsoil to prevent stormwater runoff, but developers say Iowa’s standard is too strict.      

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

The processes by which different countries regulate genetically modified crops vary, which can lead to billions of dollars in disrupted trade.

Differing regulations led to a huge corn kerfuffle between China and the United States in 2013. U.S. regulators had approved a new GM trait from Syngenta, which sold seeds containing that trait to American farmers. But when the corn arrived at Chinese ports and regulators there found the trait, they rejected all U.S. corn because China had not yet approved the trait. American farmers now allege the stoppage cost them dearly.

Photo by Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Agriculture officials don’t know just how the massive outbreak of avian flu in the Midwest was spread, but they believe the culprits include humans breaking biosecurity measures and the virus going airborne.

Jindal Visits Iowa

Jun 15, 2015
IPR's Pat Blank

Louisiana Governor Republican Bobby Jindal was in Iowa Monday to take part in a forum on national security. The event was broadcast live from Mudd Advertising Studios in Cedar Falls and sponsored by the group Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security.  Jindal has been mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate. Jindal is expected to announce next week if he will join a crowded field of GOP candidates.

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Branstad today offered sympathy to the family of an Iowa Children’s Museum employee who was shot and killed inside the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville on Friday.   

Andrea Farrington, 20, of Cedar Rapids had reportedly complained that the suspect in the shooting had been watching her and leaving notes on her car. Governor Branstad is not ruling out new legislation on stalking as a result of the shooting.

Photo by John Pemble/IPR

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wrapped up a three day campaign swing through Iowa Sunday, and he had harsh words for Hillary Clinton on the issue of international trade.  

At a state fairgrounds rally, Clinton said she can’t say whether she supports a bill in Congress giving the President so-called fast track trade authority to facilitate a Pacific trade deal.  

Clinton says she needs to see what’s really in the bill.

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