On a strict party-line vote, the Iowa Senate approved legislation backers say will help crack down on employers who stiff workers for their wages. Lawmakers say they hear often from immigrant workers in particular in construction and other industries who say they did the work for contractors but didn’t get paid. Some employers tell a different story.
The Iowa legislative calendar has the last day of the 2014 session falling late next month. Last week Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, said Iowa Republicans and Democrats have gotten better working together.
On a strict party line vote, the Iowa Senate approved a Democratic bill calling for a facility for delinquent girls in Iowa comparable to the boy’s facility in Eldora. But Republicans say a state-run institution isn’t necessary, and the private sector can fill the need.
Benjamin Victor’s clay sculpture of Norman Borlaug during a one week residency at the Iowa Historical Building in March 2013. A bronzed version will be installed in the US Capitol’s National Statuary Hall on the 100th anniversary of Borlaug’s birth.
The date’s now set for the unveiling of a new statue to represent Iowa in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. It’s a likeness of famed Iowa agricultural scientist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug. The March 25th ceremony in Washington is just one part of a lavish observance of the centennial of Borlaug’s birth.
Last week was funnel week at the Iowa Capitol, a time when lawmakers need to get their priority bills out of committee and into either the Iowa House or Senate. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to talk about the week ahead in the legislature.
On a strict party-line vote, a committee in the Iowa Senate today addressed what they say may be excessive reserves at the state’s leading health insurance company. The bill would give the state insurance commissioner authority to order Wellmark to give profits back to consumers depending on the results of an audit of the company’s bottom line. An earlier audit showed the company’s reserves might be too low.
At the statehouse the wheels fell off an 11th hour compromise to regulate the sale of cellphone insurance. Some retailers offer it when you sign up for a cellphone plan. But store clerks aren’t required to be licensed to sell it. A bill to change that set off an industry battle.
This week is when lawmakers have to have their bills wrapped up so they can make to the floor to be debated in either the Iowa House or Senate. This is an election year and at the outset of the session Republican and Democratic leaders said things can get done this session despite a lot of lawmakers vying for higher office and re-election, but consensus would have to be reached early. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to talk about the early deadline dubbed funnel week by lawmakers.
Officials with NASCAR, the new owner of the Iowa Speedway, are asking state lawmakers for an extended tax rebate to, in their words, offer more events at the Newton track. Some state lawmakers are questioning whether a wealthy organization like NASCAR needs an 8 million dollar tax break.
A couple from Adel brought tearful testimony to the statehouse. Their infant daughter died as a result of her care at an in-home child care provider. A Republican-sponsored bill would require more in-home day cares to register with the state.
This legislative session has been dominated by controversy surrounding the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. Gov Branstad ordered its closure after the group Disability Rights Iowa found girls were being held in isolation. Four lawmakers sued Branstad to keep the home open. Last week many were surprised when a polk county district court judge ordered the reopening of the home. Governor Branstad has asked the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn the order to reopen the home. He made the announcement Friday and he is being represented by the Iowa Attorney General.
Governor Terry Branstad ordered the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo last month. It was after an investigation uncovered some girls were held in isolation cells. Last week Senate Democrats unveiled a bill to reopen the home under a new program. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Statehouse Correspondent about the juvenile home as well as the likelihood of lawmakers raising the state's gas tax.
A committee in the Iowa Senate heard from experts on using stun guns, so-called tasers, to subdue difficult inmates. Two prisoners have died in Iowa jails after being tased by officers. A number of other law enforcement agencies have faced lawsuits for their use of stun guns. Iowa Public Radio's Joyce Russell reports
Leaders in the Democratic Iowa Senate say they plan to set state aid funding for the 2016 school year and provide more money to expand access to preschool. But Republicans who control the Iowa House see things a bit differently. IPR's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell about the week ahead in the state legislature.
Democrats in the Iowa Senate plan to introduce a bill to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. Governor Branstad ordered the home closed after an investigation revealed that some girls were being held in long-term isolation. On Wednesday, a Senate committee heard testimony from former residents and staff, as well as Toledo boosters. Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell reports:
Today Iowa Republicans and Democrats will hold caucuses across the state. It’s not a presidential year but there’s still plenty of drama with the Iowa caucuses this year. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Des Moines Register Political Columnist Kathie Obradovich about the caucuses and it's importance in a year with no presidential election.
Lawmakers kicked off the 2014 legislative session last week and Governor Terry Branstad laid out his priorities: create job opportunities to incentive military veterans to move and work in Iowa, bring high speed internet access to the entire state and introduce legislation that would prevent school bullying. These issues can likely get bipartisan support in an election year. Clay Masters talks to statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell about the one thing both parties agree has to get done this legislative session: the budget.
The first of the 2014 legislative session comes to a close today, perhaps overshadowed by Governor Terry Branstad announcing he’s running for reelection. Many state lawmakers have their eye on looming national and state elections. Associated Press Statehouse and Political Reporter Catherine Lucey talks with IPR’s Clay Masters about how Iowa politics are shaping up at outset of 2014.
Today is the first day of the 2014 Iowa legislative session. It’s an election year, which usually means the time lawmakers meet will be short so people can go run for re-election. IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell talks with Clay Masters about the 2014 legislative session.
A new state board charged with enforcing Iowa’s open meetings and open records laws is facing a tough case. The Des Moines Register is seeking the release of a video it believes will show the mistreatment of a young girl at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. But the new Iowa Public Information board declined to rule.
The head of the Iowa Board of Regents says he will insist on a 4% hike in state funding, if Iowans want the board to freeze tuition next year. President Bruce Rastetter was the featured speaker at the Des Moines Conservative Breakfast Club.
Students, teachers, and other school personnel turned out in Des Moines Monday for Governor Branstad’s second Bullying Prevention Summit. The governor vowed to strengthen state law to combat bullying online. But not everyone agrees.
An interim committee at the statehouse today heard from safety experts and off-road vehicle manufacturers as they consider whether to allow all-terrain vehicles to operate on public roadways. A bill passed the House to open up county roads and highways to ATV's travelling as fast as 45 miles an hour. But it died in the Senate, and promoters say they’ll try again next year.
The half dozen Republican candidates in the 2014 primary race for U.S. Senate met Wednesday night in Des Moines for a debate. But as Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports it wasn’t much of a debate… more of a chance for voters to figure out who’s running.
Statehouse analysts are giving a cautiously optimistic forecast for modest growth in the Iowa economy. But they say that could change if Congress doesn’t act soon to end the federal government shutdown.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has granted immunity to a person of interest in Canada, as they continue to probe a questionable claim for a more than 14 million dollar Iowa Lottery jackpot from nearly three years ago.
An embattled state senator facing ethics complaints has resigned at the request of the minority leader in the Iowa Senate. An independent counsel concluded Senator Kent Sorenson may have been guilty of criminal misconduct in office.
A task force appointed by the governor will soon be recommending major changes at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. An inspection last year revealed that teen-aged girls were being held in isolation for months at a time. An interim administrator told the task force about improvements at the home. But the advocacy group which unveiled the abuse still has concerns about restraining young girls.
State lawmakers grilled administrators about illegal practices at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. Officials say they have turned things around since investigators last year found girls confined to isolation cells for months at a time. But the advocacy group which unveiled the abuse says there’s more work to be done.