IPR News Stories

An Iowa father testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning  in favor of curbing synthetic drug use. 

Mike Rozga of Indianola says his son David died by suicide after a suffering severe hallucinations in reaction to synthetic marijuana.

He says law enforcement and prosecutors don’t have the tools they need for combating synthetic drugs, which are often sold commercially.

Dean Borg/IPR file photo

Water gleams between green rows of young corn and soybean plants in some north Iowa fields. Wild geese gather in small ponds where corn should be growing.

USDA’s weekly crop update issued Monday says, “Farmers in the northern one-third of the state are struggling with wet spots.”

Iowa State University Extension Agronomist, Paul Kassel, monitors 10 north Iowa counties stretching from Forest City to Sac City.  He says persistent, heavy rains have drowned some corn plants and slowed soybean planting.

Kristi Koser for Harvest Public Media

At the grocery store, processed foods like cereal, crackers and candy usually maintain the same price for a long time, and inch up only gradually. Economists call these prices "sticky" because they don't move much even as some of the commodities that go into them do.

Take corn, for example, which can be a major food player as a grain, a starch or a sweetener.  

Corn prices can fluctuate widely, so why don't products containing corn also see price changes? Why does your cereal pretty much cost $3 per box every week?

It's partly thanks to the futures market.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Today is primary day across Iowa.  A number of key races are on the ballot:

U.S. Senate Democratic Primary: Tim Fiegen, Rob Hogg, Patty Judge, and Bob Krause are running to determine who will win the party's nomination to face Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley in November.

1st Congressional District: Democrats Pat Murphy and Monica Vernon face each other in a primary for the second time in two years. The winner faces Republican Rep. Rod Blum.

Dakota Access

Dakota Access can soon begin construction on a crude oil pipeline that will cut through 18 Iowa counties.

In a two-to-one vote, Iowa Utilities Board gave the OK to start construction.

That's despite the fact Dakota Access is waiting for project approval from the Army Corps of Engineers on 65 sites along the Iowa route.

Flickr / frankieleon

Iowans should not be concerned about local transmission of the Zika virus.

Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Ann Garvey said Monday morning there is no indication that the types of mosquitoes spreading Zika are established in Iowa.

"Again, the real risk of Zika virus to Iowans is when they travel to those areas of when there is ongoing transmission," says Garvey. "Again, those areas are the Caribbean, Mexico, South and Central American. To date there's been no locally transmitted Zika virus anywhere in the continental U.S."

Flickr / JohnPaulRichards

Gov. Terry Branstad says a proclamation he signed that encourages Iowans to participate in a Bible reading marathon and to read the Bible on a daily basis, “Until the Lord comes,” is not an affront to religious liberty.

The ACLU of Iowa says it’s concerned that the proclamation endorses a particular religion.  The organization says it never announces an intention to file a lawsuit, but it is reviewing options in this case.

But Branstad says he’s "astounded" people are upset since he’s not forcing anyone to read the Bible or pray.

Photo by Amy Mayer

The path to normalized relations between the United States and Cuba made a stop in farm country Friday.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his Cuban counterpart, Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero, toured Aaron Lehman's corn and soybean farm in central Iowa. They talked about water, soil, and energy and compared strategies for managing hog manure, which has been a problem in Iowa.

 

Flickr / leah

Iowans voting absentee in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries have the option of hand-delivering their ballots on Saturday.  Sec. of State Paul Pate says the auditor’s offices in all 99 counties will be open for eight hours.

"Absentee ballots seem to be a trend where people are using it at high and higher volumes," says Pate. "And when you start mailing it on a Saturday or Sunday, there's a good chance we may not receive it in time, so we want to make sure we get their vote counted." 

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

A person in Iowa can’t be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if they lose their job because they’re in jail. That's according to a four-to-three decision from the state's supreme court.

In late 2013 medical assistant Sondra Irving of North Liberty spent nearly four weeks in jail, unable to post a bail of $17,500.

The charges were later dropped, but because Irving had been incarcerated for so long, she’d lost her job at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Photo by John Pemble

Des Moines artist Max Jury is living in London for most of this year promoting and touring his debut eponymous album that just came out.  Jury started recording music when he was in high school and pursued it further by attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

 

While he was in school, demo recordings of his music caught the attention of the label Marathon Artists in London, England.  They offered him a publishing contract.  Jury says he had every intention of graduating from college.

 

Courtesy photo

In advance of next Tuesday’s primary election, IPR is bringing you interviews and stories about the candidates and the issues. Here is a profile of Democratic candidate Monica Vernon, who’s in the First District Congressional race.

Monica Vernon has been here before. She ran for the Democratic nomination in 2014 in a five-way primary and came in second to former Iowa lawmaker Pat Murphy. She and Murphy are back on the ballot this time around.  Vernon says she’s ready to pick up where she left off, especially on the issue of increasing the minimum wage.

Melissa Wiese/Flickr

Food giant General Mills is recalling millions of pounds of flour milled in Kansas City, Missouri, on suspicions that the product is contaminated by a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria.

Thirty-eight people in 20 states have been infected in the outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten have been hospitalized.

FREEFOODPHOTOS.COM

Agriculture commodity groups should not be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. That’s according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, who opposes House legislation that allows these groups to keep their documents and data private.

Commodity industries have checkoff programs that are tasked with research and promotion of their products, such as pork or eggs. Checkoffs are funded through mandatory fees from producers and are overseen by the USDA.             

KCCI.COM

Three Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. And while Desmund Adams, Jim Mowrer and Mike Sherzan each have a compelling biography, when it comes to policy the differences amongst the trio are nearly nonexistent.

Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District covers 16 counties in the southwest corner of the state. It includes both Des Moines and Council Bluffs, along with many rural communities.

Pat Blank/IPR

Two candidates who were in the 2014 Democratic primary for the nomination in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District are giving it another shot. Pat Murphy and Monica Vernon will face off in the June 7th primary. 

Pat Murphy of Dubuque served 12 terms in the Iowa House and ended his legislative career while he was Speaker of the House to run for Congress. He won the Democratic nomination in the 2014 U.S. Congressional race in a five-way primary. Murphy then lost to Republican Rod Blum in the general election.

Dakota Access map

The Iowa Utilities Board deliberated Wednesday on whether to allow Dakota Access to begin pipeline construction in areas where it does not need eminent domain or special permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Though board members indicated they were not opposed to Dakota Access starting construction, they worried they lacked the jurisdiction to grant permission, in light of current lawsuits pending in district court.

Flickr/TimSackton

Expansion in the country’s beef cattle herd is bringing cheaper meat prices to the grocery store just in time for the summer grilling season, but those reduced prices might get some scrutiny on Capitol Hill. U.S.

Photo by Amy Mayer

A weathered wooden shed that holds wheelbarrows, hoes and other basic tools is the beacon of the Student Organic Farm, a two-acre swath within the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Farm. On a warm spring evening, a half-dozen students gather here, put on work gloves and begin pulling up weeds from the perennial beds where chives, strawberries, rhubarb and sage are in various stages of growth.

Flickr/USDA

A slaughterhouse is a safer place to work than it used to be, but data gathered by federal regulators doesn't capture all the risks faced by meat and poultry workers, according to a new government report.

Michael Leland/IPR

Visitors to Iowa’s Vietnam War Memorial had a chance to see something new at yesterday’s Memorial Day ceremony:  a granite marker was added near the wall last month to remember Vietnam Veterans who weren’t killed in battle, but who later died as a result of their service. 

Daniel Gannon of Ankeny is a Vietnam veteran who helped win approval for the marker. He says after the 867th name was added to the state’s Vietnam Memorial last year, several women contacted him about having their husbands’ names added to the wall, but they hadn’t been killed in combat.

Michael Leland/IPR

Iowa remembered its war dead across the state today.  On the south side of the state capitol this morning, about 100 people gathered for a ceremony that had the familiar rituals of military observances: a firing salute, the playing of taps, and the laying of wreaths in front of war memorials.  

Daniel Gannon of Ankeny was a Marine Corps platoon leader in Vietnam.  He says it’s important for Americans – especially veterans – to take time to talk about the experience of war.

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

A group of Civil War patriots is re-marking U.S. Highway-6 in honor of soldiers who served in the Union Army. 

Running from Council Bluffs to Davenport, old U.S. Highway-6 was named the "Grand Army of the Republic Highway" in 1947. Many of the road signs proclaiming the highway's tribute have vanished. Now more than 150 years since the Civil War, Iowans are working to save the memory. Dan Rittel is with the group Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Senate Candidates Debate Water Quality

May 27, 2016
Iowa Public Television

The four candidates competing to be the Iowa Democratic Party's nominee for the U.S. Senate are offering different views on how best to resolve water quality concerns.  The four Democrats appeared on Iowa Public Television for an hour last night in the only statewide forum that will be televised before the June 7th Primary. They were asked about the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit challenging how farm chemical run-off is handled in three northwest Iowa counties. Former Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge says water quality "has to be addressed now" throughout the country.

KCCI.com

The three candidates hoping to clinch the Democratic Party’s nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District debated in Des Moines Thursday night.

Hardly any differences surfaced on the policy positions held by Mike Sherzan, Jim Mowrer and Desmund Adams. But Adams says this primary isn’t about issues, but rather about beating the Republican incumbent, Congressman David Young.

Flickr / Alan Light

This Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the most heavily-traveled since 2005.  

AAA estimates 38 million people across the county will travel at least 50 miles.

Gail Weinholzer of the Iowa AAA says gas prices in the state are roughly 40 cents lower than they were a year ago, and historically there has been a strong correlation between low gas prices and the number of drivers.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A class of fifth graders at Saint Anthony Catholic School in Des Moines are reaching a milestone. The students are coming to the end of six years of taking all of their coursework in Spanish. 

The 10- and 11-year olds are native English speakers. They have been completely immersed in a second language since kindergarten. Eleven-year-old Tyler Faris wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he began learning in Spanish at the age of five.

“I felt kind of nervous because it was a whole different language and I barely knew English,” he says.

WIKICOMMONS / Farragutful

An eastern Iowa town of 2,800 people is investing in its future by reviving the past.

Wilton was recently awarded a $500,000 federal grant to restore its downtown.

That's money it plans to match through tax increment financing and funds from local businesses. 

Becky Allgood of the Wilton Development Corporation says she hopes that renovating the facades of 18 downtown buildings to their original 19th century aesthetic will draw new businesses to the community. Soon, structures will display features like original brickwork and iron columns. 

IPR file photos

Two of the four Democrats running for U.S. Senate spoke at the South Side Democrat Federal Candidate Forum in Des Moines Tuesday night. State Sen. Rob Hogg and former state Sen. Tom Fiegen addressed a wide range of issues, including the environment and criminal justice. 

Both candidates agreed on the need for sentencing reform. Fiegen also spoke about decriminalizing marijuana, doing away with for-profit prisons, and advocates for fewer prosecutors being appointed to the federal bench. 

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