IPR News Stories

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Blue-green algae blooms like the one that spurred a drinking water ban in one Iowa town are not widespread in the state, according to a state water analyst. 

Kate Payne / IPR

Iowa is a leading contributor to the so-called dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The low-oxygen area the size of Connecticut can kill fish and sea life. And it’s largely fueled by the runoff from Midwestern farm fields. Five years after the state created a plan to slow this process, researchers say Iowa isn't moving fast enough to cut its nutrient runoff.

Gov. Kim Reynolds was in Ypsilanti, Michigan today pleading with the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of the Iowa farmers who produce renewable fuels.

The EPA is considering rules for 2019 for the Renewable Fuel Standard governing how much ethanol and biodiesel must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.

The proposed rules would set the conventional ethanol level at the maximum 15 billion gallons, and increase the requirements for biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol.

kim reynolds
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds Wednesday defended a state review of how an Iowa State Patrol captain handled a sexual harassment complaint against a trooper.

The Associated Press reported this week a state employee accused Captain Mark Logsdon in emails of failing to follow up on her harassment complaint against Trooper Wade Karp.

Iowa Public Radio

Democratic State Sen. Nate Boulton says he will retain his seat in the Iowa Senate, in spite of calls for his resignation.  

Boulton was accused of sexual misconduct and dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.  

That was days before the June primary, after the Des Moines Register revealed complaints from women who described being touched inappropriately by Boulton in social situations in the past.  

Iowa Public Radio

Some Iowa Republicans Monday issued statements critical of President Donald Trump for his remarks in Finland following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  

In a joint news conference, the president appeared to accept Putin’s denial of involvement in the 2016 U.S. election, even though the U.S. Justice Department has indicted Russians in a cybersecurity scheme.

"I have great confidence in my intelligence people," Trump said. "But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. 

inkknife_2000/flickr

Iowa’s secretary of agriculture says he’s continuing to monitor the impacts of heavy rains that battered Northern Iowa last month. Heavier than normal summer rains flooded fields, especially in the north central and northwestern part of the state. But Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig said it’s not clear if the federal government will offer disaster aid.

Marcus Kwan/Flickr

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board issued an opinion Friday saying candidates for public office cannot use campaign funds for child care.

“I think that it’s disappointing,” said Reyma McCoy McDeid, a candidate in this year’s Democratic primary for Iowa House District 38. “I really hoped to remove this small but significant barrier to parents running for office.”

desks
alamosbasement/flickr

More than a year after receiving orders from an administrative judge, the Iowa Department of Education agreed to make some changes to special education requirements that could open up special education programs to more students.

Amy Mayer / IPR

When communities watch young people grow up, go off and never return, remaining residents and politicians often bemoan there’s been a “brain drain” — especially when such population loss means schools and businesses close.

But plenty of residents are full of love and pride for those communities, and some are working to identify their towns’ best attributes so they can attract new residents and achieve “brain gain.” This effort is happening across New England and in the Mountain West, and is also evident in two Iowa towns.

Bellevue

Michael Leland/IPR

Dignitaries and ordinary Iowans came to the statehouse Thursday to honor Gov. Robert Ray, who died this week at the age of 89.    

He lay in state in the statehouse rotunda until 8:30 p.m., the first official to do so for the past 64 years.     

In a solemn ceremony, Ray’s granddaughters, members of Iowa’s Asian community and Gov. Kim Reynolds each placed a wreath near the flag-draped coffin before the crowd was allowed to file past.

Public Art Foundation of Greater Des Moines

A new piece of public art in downtown Des Moines honors a little known chapter in the city’s civil rights history.

foxhoven
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Several days after the new fiscal year started July 1, Iowa has yet to finalize contracts with the companies that run its privatized Medicaid program.

This also happened last year. Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven told lawmakers in January negotiations would be completed in time for their budget process.

But lawmakers approved budgets more than two months ago without knowing how much the Medicaid program would cost.

Kate Payne / IPR

Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday defended the Trump administration's trade policies as good for Iowa's economy. In a visit to Cedar Rapids, Pence said the Trump White House will "always stand with American farmers".

Manhhai/flickr

As Iowans observe the death this week of former Gov. Robert Ray, some friends and associates are recalling the struggles behind his work bringing southeast Asian refugees to Iowa back in the 1970’s.  

Thousands of refugees were brought to the state starting in 1975, and again later in the decade.   Many were fleeing political repression.

“It was not without controversy for sure,” said former Chief of Staff David Oman.  “There were many people who couldn’t figure out why we would have to do this, why should we do this.”

Vladimir Kulikov / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Iowa announced Tuesday it will cut a total of 33 positions, close down seven centers on campus and roll back funding for five more centers. UI officials said the decisions were forced by years of budget cuts from the Iowa Legislature, a process they described as a "generational disinvestment in public higher education."

Daniel Moon

Representatives of Iowa’s Asian community will play a special role on Thursday in observances honoring former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray, who passed away this week at the age of 89.       

A motorcade will transport Ray’s body through Des Moines and to the Capitol where he will lie in state in the rotunda.  

Members of the Asian community will lay one of the wreaths on the coffin and lead the procession of Iowans paying their respects.

Ray oversaw the resettlement of thousands of southeast Asian refugees in Iowa in the 70’s.

chuck grassley
Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says it’s time for the Senate Judiciary Committee to get to work after President Trump announced a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court Monday night.

Grassley chairs the committee. He says it will likely take at least 65 to 70 days before Judge Brett Kavanaugh gets a confirmation hearing.

Iowa Public Radio

A former justice is warning a lack of diversity on Iowa’s Supreme Court could undermine its legitimacy. With an upcoming vacancy on the bench, state officials could have a chance to consider the issue. The judicial nominating commission began interviewing applicants Monday.

GotCredit / Flickr

Iowans concerned about their job security can buy some peace of mind with a new type of insurance. Iowa is the second state to offer layoff insurance to workers, after Wisconsin.

The plans, which pay out a lump-sum if a person is laid off or becomes unable to work, are expanding now to additional states.

Mark Greene, director of SafetyNet, the company that created this type of insurance, says too many people don’t have enough savings to deal with a sudden disruption in their income.

John Pemble/IPR file

The Iowa governor who opened the state’s arms and heart to boatloads of Southeast Asian refugees in the years following the Vietnam War has died at the age of 89.

Bob Ray was a 40-year-old attorney and chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa when he was first elected governor in 1968.

During a time of social and political turmoil, he brought a measured approach to the job.

He held the office for 14 years.

The compassionate stance he took during the last half of the 1970s left a lasting mark on his home state.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Petitioners challenging Iowa’s voter ID law were in Polk County District court Friday, urging a district judge to temporarily halt enforcement of parts of the law. 

Ames resident Taylor Blair and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa are suing Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate over the law.

The requirements in the law to show identification at the polls don’t go into effect until next year.  But on Friday, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued for a temporary injunction to stop the parts of the law that are already in effect dealing with absentee ballots.   

Geoff Livingston/flickr

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to make court proceedings more open to the public, this time in the form of audio from oral arguments.

Grassley has long advocated for cameras to be allowed in federal courts, as they are in many state courts across the country.      

Now, along with ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy,  Grassley has written a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts,  arguing that audio from oral arguments should be immediately available, instead of released at the end of the week.

There’s a long-forbidden crop on the verge of legalization, one that’s versatile and could open up new markets for farmers: hemp.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says the U.S.  Senate Judiciary Committee that he chairs is beefing up staff to help evaluate President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.        

And Grassley says if past confirmation schedules are a guide, the new justice could be on the bench to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy by the opening of the court’s next term on the first Monday in October.   

President Trump will announce his choice on Monday.     

Photo Courtesty of Matthew Christopher

During this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe catches up with designer Matthew Christopher. Before Christopher became a couture dresser for celebrities and brides across the world, he made prom gowns for his dates in his hometown of Wellman. He learned to sew in 4-H as a kid.

“I was enthralled with Brides magazine at the age of 10,” Christopher says.

 

Amy Mayer / IPR

After months of verbally sparring with trade partners, the United States is poised to implement wide-reaching tariffs Friday on imported goods, and one in particular has the agriculture economy on edge: soybeans.

OTA Photos / Flickr

Single mothers living in poverty can improve their health when they take charge of their financial lives, according to preliminary findings that researchers now hope to demonstrate in a much larger study.

Sukup Manufacturing, Sheffield Iowa

A new workplace drug testing law went into effect this week so Iowa employers will be allowed to discipline more workers for inebriation on the job.   

The law will lower the allowed workplace blood alcohol standard from 0.04 to 0.02 to bring Iowa in line with federal law.   

Sukup Manufacturing External Relations Manager Rachel Geilenfeld lobbied the legislature for the change.

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

The mayor of Cedar Rapids says his city is ready to capitalize on the state’s medical marijuana industry. That's after state officials awarded a license to the company Iowa Relief, LLC to build a cannabis manufacturing center in the city.

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