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ACLU of Iowa

A Polk County District Court judge this week ordered the Iowa Department of Human Services to cover the costs of sex reassignment surgery for two transgender women.  

The ACLU of Iowa says it’s the first court ruling recognizing the rights of transgender Iowans under the Iowa Constitution and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.    

In his ruling Chief District Judge Arthur Gamble ordered DHS to approve Medicaid coverage for what’s known as gender-affirming surgery for Carol Ann Beal of northwest Iowa and EerieAnna Good of the Quad Cities.   

Maryland GovPics via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdgovpics/15650599296/

According to the Iowa Democratic Party, voters in three counties reported issues related to the state’s new voter ID law. While the incidents were limited, there are concerns that confusion around the changes could impact future elections.

Iowa State University
Wikimedia Commons

As Iowa’s Board of Regents voted to increase college tuition Thursday, one board member called recent budget cuts to higher education the “worst state government attack” he’s seen on Iowa’s public universities.

“I view it that way when we are taking three great universities downhill,” said Regent Larry McKibben, a former Republican state lawmaker. “And for me as a board member, to see that happen is extremely difficult.” 

Michael Leland/IPR

Despite this past winter’s extended stretch of extreme cold, Iowa’s honey bee population is in good shape.

State Apiarist Andrew Joseph says he’s impressed with the numbers.

"Well I’m happy to say that things are going pretty well right now in this blink in time," he said. "There’s a lot of bees out there that are building up quite nicely through this spring and there are a lot of plants that are coming into bloom for them."

Zach Wahls via facebook / https://www.facebook.com/zach.wahls/

Iowa’s largest LGBTQ rights group is celebrating the primary election victory of advocate Zach Wahls in Eastern Iowa’s Senate District 37. 

John Pemble / IPR

Democrats in the state Tuesday night nominated a Fred Hubbell, a wealthy businessman from Des Moines, to run against Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has never been elected to the state’s top job. The primary election also set the stage for Iowa’s congressional races in November including the nomination of Abby Finkenauer. At 28, the two-term state House represenative would be the youngest woman elected to Congress if she defeats Republican incumbent Congressman Rod Blum.

Iowa Secretary of State office

Former minor league baseball player J-D Scholten will face eight-term Republican incumbent Steve King in the November election for Iowa’s 4th District congressional seat. Scholten picked up about 51 percent of the vote in defeating two other Democrats: Leann Jacobsen and John Paschen. 

Scholten toured the expansive district in his RV, and says he believes can defeat King by continuing to meet voters face-to-face.

Kate Payne / IPR

Democrat Abby Finkenauer will face the Republican incumbent Congressman Rod Blum in the general election in November, after beating out three other Democratic challengers. 

cindy axne
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Cindy Axne won the three-way Democratic primary election in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District Tuesday night with about 58 percent of the vote. She will face two-term Rep. David Young (R-Van Meter) in the November general election.

Axne addressed supporters at her campaign office in West Des Moines shortly after the race was called.

“I am so grateful for the support that I’ve received across this district,” Axne said. “And I know you’re all going to be by my side as we take this to a victory in November.”

John Pemble/IPR

Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell handily won the race for the Democratic nomination  for governor Tuesday, defeating four other candidates for the chance to go against Gov. Kim Reynolds in  November.

It was a who’s who of prominent Democrats at the Hubbell watch party near Principal Park, a sign of his massive support in Polk County.   

That helped him win well over the 35 percent he needed to clinch the nomination in the crowded field.  

Hubbell thanked the supporters who took a chance on a first-time candidate.

The polls are closed in Iowa's 2018 primary election, and we have results from the Democratic primary race for governor, as well as the primary elections in Iowa's 1st, 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts. 

Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

A new study from University of Iowa researchers shows the nitrate flowing from Iowa farm fields is a large part of the total load in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. 

During this episode of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with one of the authors of the study, research engineer Chris Jones, about the devastating impact nutrients from Iowa farmland is having downstream.

Jessica Bolser/USFWS

Right around Memorial Day is the time of year that Iowans begin to see fawns out and about. This year, wildlife experts are asking people not to “rescue” fawns, even if they are alone.

This is because fawns are frequently on their own throughout the day, and this is natural. The mother almost always comes back. Another reason for not attempting fawn rescue is that wildlife rehabilitators will not be able to take in young deer this summer.

dave jamison
John Pemble/IPR file

An unemployment benefits appeal hearing Tuesday revealed more details about Gov. Kim Reynolds’ firing of Iowa Finance Authority Director Dave Jamison over sexual harassment allegations, including the admission Jamison was fired without an investigation and was not given a chance to respond to claims.

Jamison received unemployment benefits after his firing, and the governor’s office is appealing those benefits.

Amy Mayer / IPR file photo

Corn growers, ethanol producers, and oil companies are anticipating an announcement from the Trump administration on possible changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which one Iowa senator says could undercut the president’s stated commitment to the law.

Ahead of the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, candidate Donald Trump pledged his support for the RFS, a promise Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, expects the President to keep.

John Pemble / IPR

After speaking with all of the Democratic and Libertarian candidates on Iowa's gubernatorial primary ballot, IPR's Clay Masters extended an invitation to Gov. Kim Reynolds to discuss her vision for the state. While Reynolds does not have an opponent in the June 5th GOP primary, the crowded gubernatorial field has criticized her handling of the privatization of Medicaid and funding for mental health care services. Masters spoke with Reynolds about those and other issues. What follows is a transcript of the conversation.

fez zafar
American Iftar Dinner

After the Trump administration broke a White House tradition last year of celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a Des Moines teen is trying to revive and expand the tradition.

Starting with the Clinton administration, the White House has hosted an annual iftar dinner to celebrate Ramadan. It continued through the Bush and Obama presidencies, but Donald Trump did not hold the event when he took office in 2017.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

The stakes are high for Iowa Democrats in the midterms this year. It's been a while since there's been a major win for the party in the swing state. And Tuesday could be one of the first steps. That's when Democratic voters will select a candidate to run against Iowa's Republican Governor, Kim Reynolds.

Dean Borg/IPR

Today – June 1 -- is the date the U.S. Department of Agriculture begins computing federal prevented planting insurance payments to farmers who still have unplanted corn fields.

Most of those unplanted fields, intended for corn, are in North Iowa, in the Mason City-Forest City region.

“Every day, we’ve been rained out,” said Wayne Johnson, who farms in the area. 

He’s completed corn planting, and is still planting soybeans, steering through muddy fields and planting where he can.

Vaping360 via flickr creative commons / http://vaping360.com/cbd-oil-cannabidiol-hemp-oil/

The city of Cedar Rapids is still hoping to land a medical marijuana production center. That’s after state regulators passed over Iowa's second-largest city for a dispensary earlier this year. 

planned parenthood lawyer
Michael Zamora / Des Moines Register

A Polk County judge Friday temporarily blocked Iowa’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion law from being enforced while a legal challenge is underway. The law, which bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, was supposed to take effect July 1.

The temporary injunction is the first step in a legal challenge led by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa. They, along with the Emma Goldman Clinic of Iowa City, argue the law is unconstitutional.

Amy Mayer / IPR

Bruce Carney raises cattle, poultry and a few sheep on his 300-acre farm in Maxwell. He no longer grows any grain, but is preparing for new crops of a different kind.

Orange flags dot what was previously a cattle lot, with a ridge (or swale) built around it to manage water flow. The fruit trees Carney will be planting at each of the flags later this year will also help.

Iowa HSEMD/CAP / https://www.weather.gov/dvn/flood2008_Overview

For years Cedar Rapids officials have been lobbying for federal funding to build a flood control system. But one local official says it may be time to again ask taxpayers for their support. 

paul pate
Kate Payne/IPR

Iowa’s voter ID law, which was passed last year and is in a “soft rollout” phase, is facing a lawsuit days before the June 5 primary election. A Latino civil rights group and an ISU student said they are suing Secretary of State Paul Pate because the voter ID law is “burdensome and irrational.”

Pate said in an emailed statement the lawsuit is “baseless and politically motivated,” and his office has asked the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) for feedback on voter education initiatives.

North Charleston/flickr

DNA exonerations for unjustly convicted defendants aren’t happening in Iowa the way they are in other states, and Iowa’s DNA statute has something to do with that.  

That’s what officials at the Iowa Public Defender’s office are arguing, after an unsuccessful attempt this year to update the law to make it more likely that innocent people could be freed.     

Assistant State Public Defender Kurt Swaim says Iowa is one of only a few states in the country with no  DNA exonerations.

Joyce Russell/IPR

In the final debate of the race for the Democratic nomination for governor last night, five candidates made their case for who is best qualified to take on Gov. Kim Reynolds in the general election.  

The debate was held before a live audience at the State Historical Building, sponsored by the Des Moines Register and KCCI-TV.  

Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell has been leading in the polls, financing his campaign in part with  his personal wealth.  

Kate Payne / IPR

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed into a law a tax overhaul she says will put more money in the pockets of virtually every Iowan. Despite concerns from Democratic state lawmakers and some voters, Reynolds says the changes are significant and sustainable.

adam wright
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A proposed wind project in Iowa could make MidAmerican Energy the country’s first utility to generate renewable energy equal to 100 percent of customers’ annual usage. The company announced this goal two years ago.

On Wednesday, MidAmerican Energy President and CEO Adam Wright said last year, just over half of the energy produced by the company came from wind. 

“That’s going to continue to creep up,” Wright said. “By the time we get to 2019, 2020, we should be above 90 percent from wind, and the rest will be coming from the other resources that we have.”

Country View Care Center / http://countryviewcc.com/contact-us/

Black Hawk County officials are considering two offers to take over the county-run nursing home. But some community members don’t want the center to be privatized.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

Political analysts say there’s “reason to be optimistic” this year’s elections could lead to a record-breaking number of women serving in the Iowa Legislature.

There have never been more than 35 women among the state’s 150 lawmakers.

“Part of the reason we hit that ceiling is not having enough women run for office,” said Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor at Iowa State University and coordinator at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. “This year, we have more women running, so we would expect to see more women winning.”

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