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Governor’s push for 100% in-person K-12 classes clears key committees

News

January 27th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Committees in the Iowa House and Senate have approved a bill to require 100 percent in-person classes in Iowa schools. Republican Representative Phil Thompson of Jefferson says parents in some districts haven’t had the choice to send their kids to school every weekday. “As Iowa reopened its schools in the fall, the learning experiences have not been equitable for our children,” Thompson said. “National studies show that keeping children out of the classroom has resulted in significant learning loss.”

The bill is a priority for Republican Governor Kim Reynolds. Representative Tracy Ehlert, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids who is a teacher, says the bill is being fast-tracked before adequate safe guards are in place for students and educators.  “We are telling you what is going on and what is happening in these schools,” Ehlert said.

The Centers for Disease Control released a report this week showing there’s little evidence in-person classes in K-through-12 schools are contributing to the rapid spread of Covid-19. The C-D-C researchers did recommend schools require face masks, maintain social distancing and improve ventilation systems to keep infection rates low.

Legislators again consider a ban on handling a smart phone while driving

News

January 27th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – It would be illegal to use a hand-held smart phone while driving under a bill that’s being proposed again in the Iowa House. Susan Cameron Daemon is a lobbyist with the Iowa Sheriffs and Deputies Association — a group that’s been supporting a “hands-free” law for years. “Iowa is one of the few states that does not have this law,” she said, “and we know that it works and saves lives.”

Michael Triplett, a lobbyist for the Alliance for Automobile Innovation, says the companies in the alliance developed the technology in dashboards that now makes hands-free driving while talking on a cell signal possible. “You can access your phone while keeping both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road,” he says. Matthew McKinney, a lobbyist for Nationwide Insurance, asked legislators to consider also banning the use of other types of electronic devises, like Kindles, that could be held to read while driving.

“Whether it’s a communication device that actually communicates or whether it’s an electronic device and you’re distracted, you shouldn’t be,” he says. Matt Eide, a lobbyist for the ride-sharing company Uber, asked legislators to make an exception for Uber drivers. “They have to press some buttons to accept rides,” Eide says, “and they are going to use their phones, generally.”

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau first proposed a ban on handling a cell phone while driving in 2015, and former Governor Terry Branstad lobbied lawmakers, but the bill has repeatedly failed to pass the legislature. Iowa *is* among the 48 states that ban texting while driving.

Reynolds calls for E10, B11 to be offered from any newly-installed fuel pump

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Governor Kim Reynolds says any NEW fuel pumps installed in Iowa should be able to dispense gas with at least a 10 percent blend of ethanol — and the governor says B-11 — 11 percent biodiesel — should be the standard for diesel pumps.  “As we look forward to this year’s legislative session, I am excited to advance policies that will grow the biofuels and ag industry,” Reynolds says. “…That means making biofuels the clear choice for Iowa drivers.”

Many retailers offer two, three or even four blends of fuel from one pump and this would not require that EVERY option be a higher blend of biofuel, but it would require E-10 and B-11 at least be offered from newly-installed pumps. A spokesman for the governor says a draft of the legislation Reynolds proposes will be released soon. Reynolds says governors in Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota are considering similar requirements for new fuel pumps.

“Minnesota has already taken some steps to help drive higher blends and so I think collectively we have a responsibility,” Reynolds says. “We’re better together.” Reynolds also is asking Iowa legislators to expand the state grant program for installing fuel pumps that dispense higher blends of biofuels. The program has a three million dollar budget this year. Reynolds suggests it should be 10 million dollars next year.

“That will help accelerate and help fund the installation of higher-blend compatible infrastructure,” Reynolds says. State records indicate there are more than 40-thousand gas pump meters in Iowa. Two years ago, Reynolds issued an executive order requiring the use of biodiesel in state-owned vehicles with engines that run on diesel. She’s asking legislators to pass a law this year to make that permanent state policy.

Grassley says senators are debating ‘legitimacy’ of impeaching ‘Citizen Trump’

News

January 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and his colleagues will be sworn in this (Tuesday) afternoon as jurors in the impeachment trial of former President Trump, even though it may be the second week of February before the proceedings get underway. “In a sense, the trial starts today, but then there’s been a gentleman’s agreement on all sides with all senators that we would give the president’s defenders two weeks,” Grassley says. “They’ve gotta’ have time to prepare the case.”

House leaders delivered the single article of impeachment to the Senate last night, charging Trump with incitement of insurrection in the January 6th attack on the U-S Capitol. The Constitution stipulates the U-S Supreme Court’s chief justice, currently John Roberts, would be in charge of such proceedings. However, as the former president pro tem of the Senate, Grassley, a Republican, says he’ll be swearing in the chamber’s longest-serving Democrat, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who will instead preside over the trial.

“For a president, it’s very clear that the chief justice must preside and a year ago, he did preside,” Grassley says. “Now, it isn’t President Trump that’s up. It’s Citizen Trump.” Some are questioning whether a -former- president can legally be impeached. “I suppose we’re going to be discussing among ourselves the legitimacy of even having an impeachment of a citizen,” Grassley says, “when the Constitution always talks about the president being impeached.”

Grassley says it’s a “reasonable argument” but he adds, “I’m not a lawyer” and says he’ll listen to the constitutional experts who will be testifying about how to move forward.

Ernst argues Trump impeachment trial is unconstitutional

News

January 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst says she believes it’s unconstitutional to try a president for articles of impeachment after he leaves office. Ernst was a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump while he was in office. She is among several Republican senators to question the impeachment proceedings, casting doubt on whether Democrats can get the needed Republican votes to convict Trump.

Ernst told reporters Tuesday that Trump exhibited poor leadership and has some responsibility for a Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. She says he should have more quickly told the crowd to remain peaceful. However, Ernst said she’s not sure his actions meet the definition of inciting an insurrection as alleged by the impeachment article prepared by the House..

 

Special Election March 2nd for the CAM CSD

News

January 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Auditor Dale Sunderman reports that on March 2nd, 2021 a special election will be conducted for the CAM Community School District. All eligible electors of the district may vote in this election. The purpose of the election is to adopt a Revenue Purpose Statement specifying the use of revenues the CAM Community School District will receive from the State of Iowa Secure an Advanced Vision for Education Fund.

A request for an absentee ballot may be requested from the Cass County Auditor now, but a ballot may not be mailed out until February 1. Beginning February 1st, a person may vote an absentee ballot at the Cass County Auditor’s office at the courthouse in Atlantic, Iowa. Last day to vote an absentee ballot at the Cass County Auditor’s office is March 1.

See the Notice of Election and 2021 CAM CSD Special Election SAMPLE Ballot for information regarding the public measure to be voted upon.

The Absentee Voting with Notice and Sample Ballot will be published in the Anita Tribune on about February 11, 2021.

Iowa unemployment rate falls to 3.1%, 2nd lowest in US

News

January 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s unemployment rate fell to 3.1% in December, the second-lowest rate in the country. Data released Tuesday shows Iowa’s rate fell significantly from 3.8% in November. It’s now only slightly above the 2.8% rate from a year ago, before the coronavirus pandemic led to a national economic slowdown. Only Nebraska and South Dakota have a lower unemployment rate, at 3%. The U.S. unemployment rate for December was 6.7%.

 

Upcoming CCCB Bird Programs announced

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

You’re invited to join the Cass County Conservation Board, for Common Feeder Bird Identification and Owl Prowl Programs. They will be held February 7th, 2021 at the Outdoor Educational Classroom, near Massena. Get ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count by learning how to identify common Iowa birds that like to visit your feeders. Join Kelly McKay from ‘Building Better Birders’ as he shares about Common Feeder Bird Identification.

Funding for the program is provided by the Resource Enhancement and Protection – Conservation Education Program (REAP – CEP). This workshop will be conducted by Kelly McKay (BioEco Research and Monitoring Center), with assistance from Mark Roberts (Clinton County Conservation) and Brian Ritter (Nahant Marsh Education Center).  The program is the first of the CCCB’s “Building a Better Birder Workshop Series” and are brought to Cass County Conservation Board through the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP-CEP) grant.

The Common Feeder Birds session will start at 2PM and be indoors. The Owl Prowl Hike will start at 4PM and will be outside. Pre-Registration is appreciated. Call  769-2372 or email to sign up lkanning@casscoia.us. Take Hwy 148 south of Massena, Turn Left on Tucson Rd, Follow it East for about two miles, and then a right hand turn into the parking lot. Of course this qualifies for our 120hrs Outdoor Challenge don’t forget to use #120hrsCassCoIA as a hashtag for your adventures.

Biofuels industry preps for battle over shift to electric vehicles

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw is calling on the Biden Administration to reverse the ethanol waivers the Trump Administration granted the oil industry. “The message from this one action, which could be taken immediately, would signify that we are truly entering a new, more hopeful phase for biofuels,” Shaw says. Shaw delivered the opening speech at today’s (Tuesday’s) virtual Renewable Fuels Summit and began by focusing on the Trump Administration’s decision to ignore court orders and grant waivers. Shaw also warns of the looming fight over accelerated production of electric vehicles as well as arguments about ethanol’s role in reducing carbon emissions. “In short, we must be ready to do battle in 2021,” Shaw said.

Shaw says policymakers must consider whether normal working people can actually afford E-Vs — electric vehicles — or if they’re even best option to reduce carbon. “Here’s the dirty little secret. An EV today, charged in a state like Missouri or Minnesota or many others that rely on coal for electricity actually has a higher carbon footprint per mile than my flex-fuel Tahoe motoring down the road powered by E85,” Shaw says. “Biofuel supporters must be ready to fight EV mandates in 2021.”  Shaw says research shows the carbon content of tailpipe emissions is reduced when a vehicle is running on ethanol blended fuel.

“Never in my lifetime has DC descended into the tribalism and lack of serious thought we are seeing today and, let’s face it, that’s saying something,” Shaw said. “…We are seeing elected officials hit the policy ‘easy button’ of an unworkable slogan that will fit on a bumper sticker instead of bringing people together to work on real solutions that require time, earnest effort and — heaven forbid — a bit of compromise.”

Shaw is asking the IOWA legislature to increase state grant money for retailers that install pumps for higher blends of ethanol. According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, 57 percent of the corn harvested in Iowa is used to produce ethanol.

Test Iowa sites remain closed Tuesday in Council Bluffs, Des Moines due to weather and road conditions 

News

January 26th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES – State-operated Test Iowa drive-thru sites in Council Bluffs and Des Moines will remain closed today, Tuesday, Jan. 26, due to conditions resulting from heavy snowfall.  Individuals who were scheduled for testing today will be notified of the closures by Test Iowa through email.  All sites are expected to open for regular hours on Wednesday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Individuals whose appointments were cancelled Monday or Tuesday due to the winter storm can bring their QR code to any site during open hours to be tested. There is no need to take the assessment again or schedule a new appointment time.

Locations and hours of operation for all test sites can be found at testiowa.com or coronavirus.iowa.gov.