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Senate GOP proposes 15 percent income tax cut


April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Republicans in the Iowa Senate are touting a plan that would cut individual income taxes by 15 percent over the next three years and get rid of a tax break Republicans have long fought to preserve. Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, revealed details of the plan at a statehouse news conference. “It is not just a whimsical idea,” Feenstra says. “This idea took a lot of time and effort and took a lot of time, meeting with a lot of people, to get it right.” Iowa income taxes were last reduced in 1997, by a 10-percent across-the-board cut. Feenstra says another income tax cut is long overdue. “What this plan does is it starts getting at the fact of reducing income coming into the state that is currently at a surplus,” Feenstra says.

The state has a more than 800-million dollar surplus today. Feenstra’s ultimate goal is to eliminate the state income tax, by reducing the number of products and services on which the state sales tax is not charged today. “Right now there’s 191 sales tax exemptions, so if you want to completely eliminate the income tax, that’s the method you’d need,” Feenstra says. “You’d have to go down that path.” The income tax plan Senate Republicans propose now would get rid of the tax break that lets Iowans deduct their federal tax bill from their income before calculating their state income taxes.

That change has long been opposed by Iowans for Tax Relief — an organization founded by a former Republican legislator — but Feenstra says that tax break is “complicated” and makes Iowa’s income taxes look higher than they are. “Is it a watershed moment? Yeah, probably, because what we’re trying to say is, ‘Hey, we want to reduce everyone’s income tax and we’ve got an idea,’” Feenstra says. “‘We’ve got a plan.’” Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs rejects the G-O-P’s plan. “They’ve come up with a mechanism that massively benefits the richest Iowans. Warren Buffet will probably move to our state as a result of their legislation, but no one else will,” Gronstal says. “It’s a tax plan that hurts middle class families.”

Iowa’s current income tax system has nine rates or brackets, with a top rate of just under nine percent. The Republicans’ plan sets up a three-tier income tax system, with a top rate of five-point-six percent. Gronstal says that means wealthy Iowans would get a bigger tax cut than others.  “It’s a tax bill that hurts the middle class in Iowa, makes them carry a greater portion of the load of taxes in this state,” Gronstal says. “That’s all their bill does: shifts taxes to middle class families.”

Republicans in the House have proposed a different approach to income taxes, something akin to a flat tax, but it also gets rid of that tax break Republicans have fought for decades to keep. House Republicans also proposed a tax rebate for every Iowan. Republican Governor Terry Branstad has said he’s focused on cutting commercial property taxes rather than income taxes.

(Radio Iowa)

Missouri River level stays low because of drought


April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The amount of water released into the lower Missouri River this spring will remain at minimal levels because of ongoing dry conditions in the region. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it plans to release just enough water to support a minimal channel for barge traffic on the river upstream of St. Louis. Additional water won’t be released to raise the water level above Kansas City if there is no commercial traffic in that area.

The corps says it expects the amount of runoff flowing into the river basin this spring to be about 81 percent of normal. So the corps is imposing drought conservation measures. The amount of water released out of Gavins Point dam on the South Dakota-Nebraska border averaged 18,600 cubic feet per second during March.

Iowa early News Headlines: Wed., April 10th 2013


April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Republican Party of Iowa has set the dates for the 2014 caucuses and conventions. The precinct caucuses will be Jan. 25, the county conventions March 8, the district conventions April 26 and the state convention June 14. The party meetings come as Iowa Republicans are struggling to map out the state GOP’s future.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Senate has approved legislation that would require children enrolled in the state’s voluntary preschool program to attend regularly. The Senate passed the bill 32 to 17 yesterday. It earlier passed the House and now moves to Gov. Terry Branstad. The measure would allow school districts to require that children enrolled in preschool attend regularly.

MANCHESTER, Iowa (AP) — The murder trial of an eastern Iowa man accused of shooting his grandparents in the head has been reset for later this year. Isaiah Sweet’s trial is now set for Oct. 16. He is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Richard and Janet Sweet in May 2012. Their bodies were found on Mother’s Day in their Manchester home.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials are monitoring the weather’s impact on pheasant numbers in the state. The Department of Natural Resources says spring nesting season is a critical time for pheasants. Their counts in the state could decrease if temperatures in April and May are below normal and rainfall is above normal. The opposite weather would lead to an increase.

Man Arrested on Probation Violation Warrant


April 9th, 2013 by admin

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest of 35-year old Jeremy Joel Binns of Council Bluffs today (Tuesday). Binns was arrested on a Montgomery County District Court Warrant for Violation of Probation. Binns is being held on $10,000 bond.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch issued until 1-a.m. Wed. for far SW IA

News, Weather

April 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson



I-80 westbound bridge near Casey open to 1 lane of traffic


April 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation reported Tuesday afternoon, that the inside lane of Interstate 80 westbound near Casey (Exit 83), is open to traffic. Both westbound lanes had been blocked due to an accident that happened Monday night, where an oversize load struck the bridge underpass.

Iowa DOT picture shows damage to the I-80 westbound concrete bridge support beams caused by an over-size/over-height excavator load hauled on a truck. The damage occurred late Monday night, just south of Casey.

Sioux City man arrested for illegal shooting of a wild turkey

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports a Sioux City man has been arrested on several counts resulting from the alleged illegal shooting of a wild turkey north of Pisgah, in Monona County. 47-year old Phuoc Nguyen pleaded guilty to not having a valid turkey tag, illegal method of harvesting a turkey by using a rifle, shooting a turkey out of season, abandonment of dead or injured wildlife and shooting a rifle on or over a roadway. He faces fines totaling more than $700 and liquidated damages for the turkey of $200. The turkey and a Marlin .22-caliber rifle with scope were seized.

The investigation began after Chase Durfee, a technician for the DNR Forestry Bureau, was contacted by a citizen on March 19th.  Durfee identified Nguyen’s vehicle and followed it, observing Nguyen stopping at one point and moving an uncased rifle from the front to the rear of the vehicle. Jeff Poen, park ranger for Lewis and Clark State Park, stopped Nguyen’s vehicle on I-29 where an uncased gun was observed. Durfee and Poen located and recovered the turkey that had been shot on state forest land near the Boy Scout Camp, north of Pisgah. Nguyen was later charged by DNR Conservation Officer Steve Griebel.

Nguyen still faces a charge of having an uncased gun in the vehicle in Harrison County. DNR Conservation Officer Dave Tierney said this is another case that underscores the importance of citizens providing eye-witness information when they see illegal activity taking place. A good option for providing the information is through the Turn In Poachers hotline, 1-800-532-2020.

Harlan man cited following collision, Monday


April 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Police in Harlan say no injuries were reported following an accident Monday at 6th and Court Streets. Official say vehicles driven by Gabriel Brown and Joan Gubbels, both of Harlan, collided, when Brown stopped, but failing to see anyone coming, proceeded into the intersection heading north on 6th Street. The 2005 Kia he was driving was struck on the left rear, by a 2001 Buick being driven by Gubbels, as she was heading east on Court Street.

The collision caused Brown’s Kia to be spun 180-degrees around. Brown was cited by police for Failure to Obey a Stop Sign.

Harlan Police issue arrest report


April 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department today (Tuesday) released a report on recent arrests. Officials say on Sunday, 27-year old Kaitlyn Mehaffey, of Harlan, was arrested on a charge of OWI, domestic abuse assault, and possession of a controlled substance. She was taken into custody after officers were called to a reported domestic disturbance in the 1400 block of 12th Street.

Also arrested on Sunday, was 28-year old Garrett Phillips, of Harlan, who was taken into custody on a charge of domestic abuse assault, for allegedly causing minor injuries to Heather Scheffler, of Harlan. His arrest took place in the 900 block of Victoria Street.

And, on Friday, 18-year old Dylan Jager, of Elk Horn, was arrested in Harlan following a traffic stop. Officials say Jager was charged with interference with official acts, for allegedly refusing to produce his driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, when requested to do so, by the officer. He was also cited for speeding.

Traffic stop in Harlan after car clocked at 100+mph


April 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Police in Harlan say a Dow City man was arrested Sunday after the vehicle he was driving was clocked in excess of 100 miles per hour. 18-year old Ismael Corona was allegedly doing 104-mph in a 55 zone when he was spotted by a Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy. Corona was stopped in Harlan and brought to the Shelby County Jail on charges of No proof of insurance, operating without a registration, possession of a controlled substance and speeding.