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Campaign manager departs Iowa governor’s staff amid primary

News

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The campaign manager for Gov. Kim Reynolds has left her staff months before the contested Republican primary election. Reynolds confirmed Thursday that Phil Valenziano, one of the state’s top GOP organizers, has moved on and that she would name his replacement in coming weeks. Reynolds had kept Valenziano despite an incident last summer, when he was arrested for public intoxication after being seen urinating outside a West Des Moines bar.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Reynolds thanked Valenziano for helping build grassroots support for her campaign and predicted he would “continue to be a force in Republican politics.”
Valenziano says “now is the appropriate time for me to pursue other opportunities” after working for Reynolds and former Gov. Terry Branstad in different capacities for 8 years. Former Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett is challenging Reynolds in the June primary.

Eagle Grove students remember fallen Eagle Scout with Day of Service

News

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

Today (Friday) marks a full decade for the annual Day of Service and Giving on what would have been the 24th birthday of an Eagle Grove boy. Aaron Eilerts was 14 when he was killed by a tornado that hit the Boy Scout camp in Harrison County in 2008. Beth Stephas, a counselor at Robert Blue Middle School, says students at Aaron’s old school are tackling a list of projects, several which were started by Aaron. “We will have students that will be sewing pillow cases like he used to do and donating those to hospitals and care centers,” Stephas says. “We’re going to be decorating pillow cases to send to soldiers. We’ll be making dolls to send to orphanages, pet blankets to send to different veterinary clinics.”

Students have branched off and launched their own community service projects which Stephas says are inspired by Aaron’s memory. “We’ve got some projects that are going to go out to some of our senior citizens and shut-ins, some painting of pots and planting of flowers and making baskets,” Stephas says, “just a variety of projects going on throughout the day.” Stephas says it’s such a treat for the students to be carrying on Aaron’s thoughtful volunteer efforts year after year. “We are honored that we are able to continue this legacy,” she says. “A proclamation was made ten years ago that every year on Aaron’s birthday, there would be a Day of Service and Giving.”

Former Iowa Governor Chet Culver signed a proclamation in 2008 marking February 24th as a statewide Day of Service and Giving in memory of Eilerts. The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center gives out an award each summer to an Iowan who follows the lead of Aaron Eilerts in giving back to their communities during the Iowa Character Counts Awards ceremony.

(Radio Iowa)

(Podcast) KJAN 8-a.m. News, 2/23/2018

News, Podcasts

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

More area and State news from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

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Creston man arrested for Public Intox.

News

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

Creston Police, Thursday night, arrested 52-year old Craig Allen Hauser, of Creston. Hauser was arrested at around 10-p.m. in the 300 block of E. Montgomery Street, for Public Intoxication. He was being held in the Union County Jail this (Friday) morning, on a $300 cash or surety bond.

(Podcast) KJAN Morning News & funeral report, 2/23/2018

News, Podcasts

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

The area’s latest and/or top news stories at 7:06-a.m., w/KJAN News Director Ric Hanson

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House GOP using Governor Reynolds’ tax plan as their template

News

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

The wide-ranging bill Senate Republicans say would cut Iowans’ taxes by a billion dollars is likely to be debated in the full senate next week. Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, says he’s been working on the proposal for years. “This bill creates dramatic economic development and it says we’re open for business,” Feensta says.

The bill would cut personal income taxes and corporate taxes. It would raise taxes on the state’s largest credit unions. It would do away with dozens of tax credits. Republicans in the Iowa HOUSE using the tax reform proposal Republican Governor Kim Reynolds released last week as their template. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, spoke with reporters Thursday afternoon. “We’ll run the process like we do here in the House and make sure Iowans have an opportunity to weigh in,” Upmeyer said.

The governor’s plan does NOT cut corporate taxes and it would phase in a 23-percent reduction in personal income tax rates over a six year period. There’s also a “trigger” option in the governor’s plan, so the tax cuts wouldn’t go into effect if the state’s financial position takes a dive. “I think the sustainability of any kind of tax reform and our ability to actually follow through on it — that’s the critical part. If that means triggers, then I think that’s the way to do it,” Upmeyer says. “That’s a model North Carolina used. It worked pretty well for them.”

Republicans in the SENATE are calling for immediate tax cuts and their plan does not include a mechanism that would put the cuts on hold if economic conditions warrant. Upmeyer told reporters she’s not had a chance to thoroughly review the tax-cutting plan SENATE Republicans are advancing. “We need the balance sheet,” Upmeyer said. “We need to know more about the bill.”

Democrats in the Iowa Senate say it was unwise for Republicans to advance the bill out of a committee yesterday (Thursday) without first having a non-partisan review of the bill’s impact.

Senate GOP’s tax bill advances out of committee, debate in full senate expected next week

News

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

Republicans on a state senate committee have advanced their plan that intends to cut state taxes by a BILLION dollars. Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull who is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said “We want to be bold. We want to be a driving factor in our economy and, more importantly, we want to give Iowans money back. Why? Because that helps grow the economy…because they can spend it.”

The “maze” of tax credits and deductions would be reduced if the bill becomes law, according to Feenstra. The legislation would cut individual income tax rates by 30 percent and the corporate tax rate would drop from 12 percent down to seven percent. Feenstra is repeatedly using one word to describe the package. “Yes, this is a bold plan. This is very bold,” Feenstra said. “However, we need bold to create a strong economy. We need bold create more jobs and higher wages.”

The 130-page bill was introduced Wednesday and cleared Feenstra’s committee Thursday afternoon. Democrats like Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City accused Republicans of rushing the bill through without a non-partisan analysis of its impact. “But here we are,” Bolkcom said, “so more DC-style lawmaking where people are voting on stuff they have no clue about.” Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, suggested the financial impact of a billion dollar tax cut would lead to dramatic cuts in the state BUDGET.

“We’re driving ahead at about a hundred miles an hour with no clue of how we’re going to responsibly pay for this,” Quirmbach said. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, accused Republicans of rigging the legislative process. “There’s been no public input, no bipartisan collaboration, no understanding of the true cost of this measure,” McCoy said. “We literally are flying blind into the abyss.” All nine Republicans on the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted for the bill, but Feenstra was the only one to speak during Thursday afternoon’s meeting. During a meeting earlier Thursday, Republican Senator Michael Breitbach of Strawberry Point stressed his support of eliminating tax credits and deductions.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time for simplification of the Iowa tax code and hopefully we can get through it and make the changes,” Breitbach said. Senate Republican leaders intend to bring the bill up for a vote in the 50-member senate next week. Meanwhile, the Republican-led Iowa House is using the tax plan Republican Governor Kim Reynolds released last week as their template.

(Radio Iowa)

Regents talk tuition

News

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

The president of the Board of Regents says the group that oversee the three state universities wants to provide students and their parents with more predictability when it comes to tuition increases. Board president Michael Richards says they should now how much funding they will get from the state by mid-April, and be ready to set next year’s tuition at its June meeting.”We must get this right and will only approve rates one time this year. We need the proper mix of financial resources at our universities. This must be done collectively, it takes all of us working together to maximize the resources of our public universities,” Richards says. He says the board has been considering tuition increases below four percent and a long-term tuition strategy. “This fall we intend to announce a multi-year tuition model, with a baseline percentage increase for the next five years, starting with the 2019-20 academic year,” Richards says. “We will do further study this year to determine the range of increase each year.”

Richards says they have listened to concerns about raising tuition in the middle of a year. “We want to come up with a plan that allows for students and their families to know what tuition rates will be and what will be projected for the next several years,” Richards says. Regent Larry McKibben of Marshaltown is a former state legislator and says the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa need more state support to maintain their quality. He says the state should take money from its cash reserves instead of another budget cut to the schools for this year. “So now were are talking about a 35 million dollar cut in the budget mid-year and they have tens of millions of dollars in a rainy day fund,” McKibben says. “I have said and I have communicated to some of my former colleagues in the legislature that that is not acceptable as far as I am concerned,” McKibben says.

McKibben says legislators and lawmakers are blaming the down farm economy for budget woes — but he says it’s something else. “It is all about priorities — it’s all about the priorities of whether we do this or whether we use some of the funds out of the rainy day funds. And we know with the federal change in tax law we know that we will have more revenue coming into the state of Iowa because of the reduction in the amount of the federal deductibility,” McKibben says. He says the reserve funds are the answer to funding the schools. “There is no reason for a mid-year budget cut. There is absolutely no reason for a mid-year budget cut,” McKibben says.

McKibben says some of the schools have already lost faculty to higher paying jobs in other states, and that will continue if the state does not give them more funding.

(Radio Iowa)

First National Bank to halt production of NRA credit card

News

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The nation’s largest privately-owned bank says it will stop producing credit cards for the National Rifle Association in response to customer feedback. The Nebraska-based First National Bank of Omaha announced on Twitter Thursday that it will not renew its contract to issue the group’s NRA Visa Card. The announcement came after the progressive news website ThinkProgress listed the bank as a company that supports the NRA. ThinkProgress noted that First National Bank offered two NRA cards with a $40 bonus and touted it as “enough to reimburse your one-year NRA membership!”

The NRA has faced intense criticism following the school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead. First National Bank has offices in Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota and Texas. A bank spokesman declined to comment.

Counselor accused of kissing patient pleads guilty

News

February 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

BETTENDORF, Iowa (AP) — A Bettendorf counselor accused of kissing and touching a patient against the woman’s wishes has pleaded guilty. Court records say Aracely Schutters’ plea was filed Tuesday to misdemeanor sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. The original charge was a felony. A plea agreement says Schutters will pay a fine of $625 and be sentenced to two years of probation.
Schutters’ sentencing has been scheduled for March 23.

An arrest affidavit says the incident happened Dec. 4 when Schutters invited the patient to her home to talk about the patient’s problems. The patient reported getting into Schutters’ hot tub, where the counselor reportedly kissed and touched the patient. The patient then got out of the hot tub and left Schutters’ home. The patient reported the incident two days later.