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Cruz says Iowa farmers are ‘snookered’ about the RFS

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 7th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Republican candidate Ted Cruz supports a five-year phase-out of the so-called “Renewable Fuels Standard” that sets annual ethanol production levels for the country, but Cruz says Iowans are being “snookered” about the R-F-S. “You know, a lot of corn farmers, a lot of people in Iowa have been led to believe by the lobbyists that the RFS is the ‘holy grail’, but the RFS ensures that Washington remains front and center,” Cruz said Tuesday in Sioux Center.

“It ensures that corn farmers have to go on bended knees to politicians in Washington, seeking their regular support and mandates.” Under current federal law, the Renewable Fuels Standard will end in 2022. Cruz co-sponsored a senate bill in 2013 that would have triggered a five-year phrase out of the R-F-S. Cruz says a better answer is improving market access and he promises as president he would end federal regulations that effectively prevent refineries from making higher blends of ethanol, like E-15 and E-30.

Cruz has been trailed this week in Iowa by America’s Renewable Future, a pro-ethanol group that’s headed by Eric Branstad, the oldest son of Republican Governor Terry Branstad, and Cruz is taking issue with their efforts. “Now I recognize, particularly as our campaign has gained more and more support, as we’ve seen conservatives uniting behind our campaign, that a coalition of lobbyists and Democrats have gotten together and are spending an awful lot of money trying to convince you that somehow Ted Cruz opposes corn farmers,” Cruz said in Sioux Center. “I’ll tell you the straight truth: it is utter nonsense.”

Eric Branstad says Cruz “started the Caucus process” by calling for an “immediate” repeal and has been swayed by Iowa farmers, but a spokeswoman for Cruz says the senator first called for a gradual phase out of the R-F-S nearly three years ago.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa News Headlines; Thu., 1/7/16


January 7th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A lottery official says there is no jackpot winner in the drawing for a Powerball prize worth an estimated $500 million. The winning numbers in Wednesday evening’s drawing of the “Powerball” game were: 02-11-47-62-63, Powerball: 17, Power Play: 3. Kelly Cripe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery, says no one matched the numbers drawn Wednesday night. She says that means the estimated prize for Saturday’s drawing is $675 million, the largest jackpot of any lottery game in U.S. history. The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former U.S. Representative Tom Latham of Iowa says he has been diagnosed with a form of cancer. The former Republican congressman wrote on his public Facebook page Wednesday that he was diagnosed recently with a form of lymphoma. His post, which the 67-year-old linked to his verified Twitter account, says he is working with doctors and there’s a treatment plan. He didn’t release more information.

SPENCER, Iowa (AP) — Texas Senator Ted Cruz is pushing back against a pro-ethanol group in Iowa that claims he’s softened his opposition to a renewable fuel subsidy as the February 1st caucuses near. Cruz said Tuesday he wanted to end the renewable fuel subsidy in 2022, the same year it’s currently scheduled to stop. The director of a pro-ethanol group that’s been following Cruz across Iowa said Wednesday that Cruz calling for the phase-out to run through 2022 is a “big step forward.”

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Altoona police say a worker was killed when a trench collapsed on him as he was installing lines for a residential development. Sergeant Jason Ferguson says the man died Wednesday morning when the trench collapsed as he and others were laying utility lines for the housing project. Police haven’t released his name.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Brooke McCarty scored 17 points, making five 3-pointers, and Number 4 Texas defeated Iowa State 75-54 on Wednesday night to remain undefeated. Seanna Johnson scored 23 points to lead Iowa State.

Atlantic City Administrator updates City Council on budget & more


January 6th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The City Administrator in Atlantic updated the City Council Wednesday evening on that status of the budget, and on the likelihood of bringing fiber optic internet service to town. John Lund said in his prepared statement that, as far as the budget is concerned, it’s “Looking excellent.”

In more detail, Lund said he has received tax valuations from Cass County Auditor Dale Sundermen, and based on what he’s seen, he will likely recommend that tax levies remain flat for the next year. Lund said “Any changes people see to their property taxes will be due to the changes of value to their property or the levies set by the County and School District.” He said “We are not in a windfall situation by any means, but we have the resources available to continue with existing operations and manage the increase of costs relating to annual inflation.” He added that the equalization order from the State has helped the City’s General Fund and Debt Service levels, which in-turn, helps to offset the Multiresidential property classification that began this year, and the Commercial rollback.

Lund said the City also had “An excellent year of receipts from the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST).” He added that “Due to being so conservative with the LOST Streets fund the past two years, we [The City] have accumulated a considerable balance,” and that there should be funds available to take care of repairing or resurfacing all the downtown alleys. He went on to say that “Atlantic can continue to sustain a flat to minimal-growth tax climate in the short and intermediate term, and provide the highest levels of services [while] maintaining our infrastructure, which will lower [The City’s] long-term costs, and as those renewals occur and less is needed, it should ease the tax burden on all classes of property.”

With regard to fiber optic cable, Lund said he has adjusted the City’s Capital Improvement Program, and he proposed using the LOST fund. He’s designated a new line item “Fiber Optic Seed Money,” which will help to cover the costs of issuing a revenue bond for One-half million dollars ($500,000) to set-up the infrastructure for cable. Sales tax money, he said, would likely cover the bond issuance fees and first year of bond payments.

Mayor Dave Jones said the City is 10-years behind other cities in getting fiber optic cable installed for businesses and residential. The primary goal has always been to service businesses with fiber optic, first. Jones said he and other City officials have met with AMU (Atlantic Municipal Utilities), and the two entities are planning to put together a feasibility study, and have a third-party administrator handle the rest. The goal would be to have the City and AMU place the cable in the ground.

In other business, the Council unanimously approved the appointment of long-time City Clerk Deb Wheatley Field to her position for another term.  She’s been City Clerk since 1982, and will be completing her 34th year, next month.

Powerball jackpot surges to $500M in hours before drawing


January 6th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Powerball jackpot has climbed to an estimated $500 million as more people across the country buy a chance at the biggest prize in nearly a year. Officials with the Multi-State Lottery Association raised the jackpot estimate from $450 million due to strong sales before Wednesday night’s drawing.

The jackpot ranks as the sixth largest offered in North America and the biggest since a $564.1 million Powerball prize shared by players from North Carolina, Texas and Puerto Rico last February. A winner of Wednesday’s jackpot could claim the pre-tax $500 million prize through an annuity over 29 years or in a single pre-tax payout of $306 million. Powerball is played in 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Iowa Business Council releases annual “report card” on state’s economy


January 6th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The top concerns among the CEOs of the state’s largest businesses haven’t changed much in the new year. Elliott Smith is executive director of the Iowa Business Council (IBC). “Business leaders in the state really continue to be concerned about workforce issues and the availability of the quality, skilled employees that they need,” Smith said.

The IBC has released its annual review of the state’s economic climate — what the group calls the Iowa Competitiveness Index.Iowa Business Council logo Smith says the “report card” shows business leaders are struggling to find qualified workers in order to expand their operations or replace employees who are retiring. “It’s been an ongoing issue for a number of years now and it’s a real issue that continues to be on a challenge list for corporate executives, recruiters, and economic development officials,” Smith said. “I think that’s the overriding key priority out of the 2016 Competitiveness Index.”

This is the sixth year the IBC has compiled the Index, which examines data in five areas deemed important to the state’s prosperity; economic growth, education and workforce readiness, governance and fiscal matters, and health and well-being. The index is released just prior to the start of the legislative session. The IBC is pushing state lawmakers to find ways to constrain “explosive” Medicaid costs.

“A lot of that is driven by efficient and effective delivery of services,” Smith said. “A lot of that is also based on better disease prevention and management through addressing all the growing chronic disease conditions in the state and things like obesity and smoking.” In addition to the top executives of the largest businesses in the state, the Iowa Business Council is comprised of the three Regent university presidents, and the president of the Iowa Banking Association.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowans who don’t have health insurance face stiff tax penalties


January 6th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowans who pay estimated quarterly taxes face their first deadline of the new year next week as fourth quarter taxes are due January 15th. Bob Burger, a C-P-A in Omaha-Council Bluffs, says there are new rules every filing season. The year’s biggest issue is thanks to new requirements under the federal Affordable Care Act, as the penalty is rising for anyone who doesn’t have health care coverage.

“That penalty, if you don’t have health insurance, at a minimum is increasing from $95 in 2014 to $325 for an uninsured household in 2015 and then in 2016, it goes up to $695,” Burger says, “so that’s a significant jump.” As you begin to organize all of your tax paperwork, Berger says don’t forget about contributions to non-profit groups you made during the past year.

“Most of the people don’t realize how big of an advantage charitable donations are,” he says. “Make sure, when you go to the charity, get a receipt and bring that with you because it’s a huge deduction and it benefits both parties.” The I-R-S requires you have proof of such donations, with a cancelled check, a bank or credit card statement, or a letter or receipt from the organization. Donors also need written acknowledgement from the charity for all gifts worth $250 or more.

(Radio Iowa)

Glenwood woman arrested for Harassment, Wednesday


January 6th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Police in Glenwood report the arrest today (Wednesday), of 37-year old Wendy Meadows. The Glenwood woman was arrested for Harassment. Her bond was set at $1000.

Cass Co. Treasurer warns forms of ID’s at airports are changing for domestic & international travel


January 6th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The rules regarding use of your driver’s license as a form of I-D at the airport are changing, even for domestic flights. Cass County Treasurer Tracey J. Marshall points to information on the website totalnewswire.com, which says the Department of Homeland Security will begin enforcing what is now a 10-year-old law called the Real ID Act, which set new regulations for sufficient ID for air travel. Passengers have long had to use their federally issued passports for international trips, but for millions of Americans, that may now extend to flights inside of America as well.

Only 22 states are in full compliance with the law. Many more have been granted extensions that will expire by October 10, 2016 (or earlier). However, four states have not received extensions, meaning their residents will be out of luck starting January 10.

In the Midwest, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin are in full compliance with the law. Many other states have received temporary extensions through October 10 to comply, while Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri are not in compliance at all. You can find the full list of States compliant with law, those that have received an extension to comply, and those not in compliance, at http://totalnewswire.com/drivers-license-domestic-flights-new-rules/?trackback=email

If you have any questions, contact Tracey J. Marshall at the Cass County Treasurer’s Office.

(Podcast) KJAN 8-a.m. News, 1/6/2016

News, Podcasts

January 6th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

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


3 vehicle accident in Atlantic Tue. afternoon


January 6th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police say no injuries were reported following a chain-reaction accident Tuesday afternoon, near 7th and Olive Streets. Officials say vehicles driven by Sherrill Clausen, of Atlantic, Shirley Schmitt, of Marne, and Michael Grogan, of Audubon, collided at around 2:30-p.m.

All three vehicles were traveling west on 7th Street, when Clausen and Schmitt slowed for the traffic light. Grogan’s vehicle struck the rear of Schmitt’s vehicle, causing it to be pushed into the rear of the Clausen vehicle. Damage from the collision amounted to $2,200. Police cited Grogan for Following too Close.