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Week #17 of 2013 Iowa legislative session!

News

May 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Legislators return to the statehouse today (Monday) with all the major issues they’ve faced since January unresolved. Ten-member negotiating committees have been assigned to find compromises on property tax reform, education reform and a new health care plan for low-income, uninsured Iowans. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs won’t speculate on which deals may be easier to strike. “We’re working on all of them, people of good faith really are and there’s ideas being exchanged,” Gronstal said late last week.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, is also striking a positive tone. “We’re very pleased with a lot of the progress that was made,” Paulsen says, “….remain optimistic that the conference committees will be able to work out some of these differences.” The 10-member conference committee assembled to strike a deal on education reform didn’t meet last week, however. Paulsen says he’s “extremely frustrated” about that lack of action, but he’s still unwilling to declare that any of the disagreements have reached the stalemate stage.

“We’re trying to set it up for success and I’m expecting to have success,” Paulsen said late last week. “That’s what Iowans expect.” Gronstal wants to keep all 150 legislators in Des Moines this week rather than sending most home if they’re not involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations over key issues. “We’ll make that judgement as we move along,” Gronstal said late last week. “I’m not a great fan of having people leave because they’re all part of this process. Everybody has a vote. We need to share concepts and things with each other as we’re working though our differences.”

The 2011 legislative session ended on June 30th, but through most of May and June that year it was just legislative leaders who stayed at the statehouse to negotiate. Legislators receive an annual salary, plus daily expense money to cover the cost living in Des Moines during the legislative session. However, those daily expenses in even-numbered years like 2012 last just 110 days — so their daily expense allotments ended last Friday.

(Radio Iowa)

Rain and snow help erase drought

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

May 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The recent rain and snow have played havoc with outdoor events and activities, but all the moisture has a positive side. Tim Hall of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says moisture of any type is important after the severe drought that hit the state. “This is exactly what we’d hoped for, is sustained long-term, better then normal precipitation during the months when we typically get a lot of rain anyway. And March and April and May are pretty wet months, and we are getting more than normal right in those months,” Hall says.

April set a new statewide average for rainfall at six-point-five-two inches (6.52), with normal rainfall for April at three-point-five-one (3.51) inches. A new drought map comes out Thursday, and Hall expects to see the areas with severe problems continuing to shrink. “We’re making some real improvement in the drought conditions in the state, and I think we’re gonna continue to see improvement in the near future,” according to Hall. Not only has the amount of rain increased, it is coming at a time where the frost is out of the ground — so the rain that falls or snow that melts — sinks into the soil.

“In fact our groundwater folks who work with a lot of the water utilities in northwest Iowa are starting to see that reflected in the water levels in some of the wells that are used to supply drinking water,” Hall says. “So we’re starting to see some gradual recovery in the levels in wells, which is indicative of the water making it down into the ground where it is going to do some real good.” He says those areas that were not hit as hard by the drought are building up some reserve with the rains that’re falling now. Hall says that makes it less likely they’ll get back into a water shortage.

“I think if the rainfall stopped for a couple of weeks, which it probable will — I mean we go through periods where we don’t get rain for a couple three weeks — the real danger is if that rainfall slows down or stops and we get excessively hot where the demand for water also starts to go up in conjunction with the rain going down,” Hall says. Hall says farmers are probably really hoping the rain will stop for awhile so they can get into the fields — but he says even they will be happy that all the moisture is replenishing the groundwater.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Mon., May 6th 2013

News

May 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The legislative session will look different starting today. Friday was the last day for much of the temporary staff and the student pages who work in the Legislature. The Republicans who control the House and Democrats who rule the Senate are still trying to find resolution on education funding, property tax reductions and low-income health care.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More than 50 Iowa sex offenders have permits to carry guns in public because a two-year-old law makes it harder for sheriffs to deny permits. Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says he worries about sex offenders having guns because many of them use intimidation to get what they want. He says a gun would help that.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Generational farm owners have until June 1st to apply for the century and heritage farm program. It recognizes families that have owned their farms for 100 years and 150 years. More than 17,000 farms across Iowa have been recognized as century farms since 1976.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa woman has been charged with using a 16-year-old girl in a prostitution business. The girl offered to have sex with an undercover police officer who contacted her for $70. Police say that the investigation led them to arrest 20-year-old Brittany Lanier on suspicion of human trafficking.

Some Iowa sex offenders receive gun permits

News

May 5th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More than 50 Iowa sex offenders have permits to carry guns in public thanks to a two-year-old law that makes it harder for sheriffs to deny permits. The Des Moines Register reports law enforcement officials and some state lawmakers are worried about armed sex offenders. Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar says he worries about sex offenders having guns because many of them use intimidation to get what they want and a gun could help that.

Most of the sex offenders who have obtained gun permits in Iowa were convicted of misdemeanors like lascivious conduct with a minor. Ronald Hahn Jr. says he doesn’t pose a threat to public safety and he uses guns for hunting, so why should his indecent exposure conviction keep him from getting a gun permit?

Iowa session extends after expense payments end

News

May 5th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Boxes were stacked in the corner of the Iowa Senate chambers on Thursday, but lawmakers are nowhere near ready to pack up. Still, the legislative session will look different starting Monday. May 3 was the last day for much of the temporary staff and the student pages who work in the Legislature, as well as the final day of expense payments for lawmakers.

Most of the 150 legislators will report to work early next week. But if negotiations drag out then numbers will likely dwindle to a smaller group of party leaders and those working on negotiating committees. The Republicans who control the House and Democrats who rule the Senate are still trying to find resolution on major issues like education funding, property tax reductions and low-income health care.

Deadline approaching to honor older Iowa farms

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 5th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A deadline is approaching for owners who want to recognize their generational farms in Iowa.  Owners have until June 1 to apply for the century and heritage farm program. It recognizes families that have owned their farms for 100 years and 150 years.  Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says the program highlights the state’s deep history and strong agricultural heritage.

There are various ways to request an application, including from the agriculture department’s website. A ceremony to recognize participants will be held at the Iowa State Fair in August.

More than 17,000 farms across Iowa have been recognized as century farms since 1976. More than 580 farms have been recognized as heritage farms since 2006.  Last year, 345 century farms and 69 heritage farms were recognized.

Iowa News Headlines: Sun., May 5th 2013

News

May 5th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied a final funding request from the University of Iowa to help replace its flood-damaged museum. The Museum of Art’s lower level mechanical and electrical systems were damaged during the Iowa City’s 2008 flood. Officials estimate there’s about $4 million worth of damage.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge will review a recording of a Des Moines school board meeting about a former superintendent to determine if the meeting was illegally closed. The board had invoked a law that says meetings can be closed to evaluate the competency of an individual to prevent injury to that person’s reputation.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a man accused of shooting a Sioux City police officer has been captured in Texas. Jamal Dean was arrested without incident during a traffic stop in Riviera, Texas. Police believe he was headed to the border between the United States and Mexico.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Nearly 200 people have attended the funeral of one of two abducted Iowa cousins whose remains were later found. Elizabeth Collins was laid to rest in a wooden casket inside a burial vault painted pink. Elizabeth’s mother, Heather Collins, says the service offers closure for her daughter’s three siblings.

5 U-S Troops killed in roadside bomb in Afghanistan

News

May 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – An official with the U.S.-led international military coalition says the five troops killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan were all Americans. Capt. Luca Carniel confirmed that the troops killed on Saturday were U.S. service members.  The coalition did not disclose the location of the blast.

However, Javeed Faisal, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province, said a coalition patrol hit the roadside bomb in Maiwand district of the province, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban.  With the deaths, 47 members of the coalition have been killed so far this year – including 32 Americans.

Officials: Iowa gender balance law tough to meet

News

May 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – It’s unclear whether a law requiring gender balance on boards and commissions is getting more women involved in local government, but some officials question the need for the law.  Iowa is the only state that requires gender balance of state and local boards and commissions. Legislators who backed the law in 2009 say it pushes officials to give women the encouragement they need to seek public office.

The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University found 49 percent of all county boards and commissions are gender balanced. The group is studying results for city governments.

In the small northeast Iowa city of Calmar, Mayor Cory Meyer says it’s hard enough to find volunteers to fill unpaid, time-consuming positions. He pays little attention to the law.

Saturday Local/Western IA News (podcast) – May 4th 2013

News, Podcasts

May 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The latest area News from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson…

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