Iowa Attorney General Evaluating Legality Of Iowa City Mask Mandate
Friday, August 27
3:29 p.m. – Despite historic boost to SNAP, food pantries expect more traffic after emergency assistance stops
The Biden Administration is giving a historic, permanent boost to the amount of money people get each month through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The effect that will have on food pantries is still unclear.
Luke Elzinga with Des Moines Area Religious Council says the group’s food pantries saw a boost in traffic during the pandemic, but many people have been coming less often because they have emergency pandemic money through SNAP. Elzinga expects that, even with the higher base-level benefits, people will come back once the pandemic allotment goes away.
“They're going to be needing to fill that gap somehow. And a lot of them were previously using food pantries to do so, and so we expect that they will return.”
Once the emergency assistance stops, people will get different amounts of money, sometimes less, despite the permanent increase to SNAP.
3:23 p.m. - Iowa’s highest court has issued a mask mandate in court-controlled spaces throughout the state
The chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court signed an order Friday requiring all people to wear masks in court-controlled spaces throughout the state. That includes the Iowa Judicial Branch building and county courtrooms.
The order, signed by Chief Justice Susan Christensen, says the Supreme Court reviewed the CDC’s recommendation to wear masks in public indoor settings where there’s high or substantial coronavirus transmission. The judicial branch’s mask requirement applies to the whole state, regardless of any county’s level of virus transmission.
The order replaces the court’s previous rules that said only unvaccinated people were required to wear masks.
This comes as many other government entities — including local governments and schools — aren’t allowed to require masks under a state law that was enacted in May. The mayor of Iowa City has issued a mask mandate despite that, and a parent from Council Bluffs is challenging the school mask mandate ban in court.
3:21 p.m. - Polk County health officials impose visitor restrictions for hospitals
Polk County health officials have announced they are imposing new visitor restrictions starting Tuesday. This comes amid an increasing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county.
Starting next Tuesday, patients in Polk County hospitals will be allowed only one support person per day, except for patients under 18, who will be allowed two support people. Additionally, women giving birth will be restricted to one support person and one birthing coach.
Support people must be at least 16 years old, and those with COVID-19 positive patients will be required to wear personal protective equipment.
The new restrictions come as the county, like the rest of the state, has seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting all 99 of Iowa’s counties have high or substantial spread of the coronavirus. State officials reported this week nearly 500 Iowans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number since January.
2:48 p.m. - Getting a COVID-19 test may be difficult amid surge of delta variant
All of Iowa's 99 counties are currently experiencing high or substantial spread of coronavirus, according to the CDC. Meanwhile k-12 schools around the state are back in session, and the number of hospitalizations in the state is rising.
Many health experts say that testing is an important part of combatting COVID-19, although the state’s testing program Test Iowa closed its drive-thru locations earlier this summer, saying that demand for testing had decreased, and that the wide availability of vaccines made the sites unnecessary. The state is offering self-administered tests. Additionally, testing, including rapid testing in some places, is available through doctors’ offices and pharmacies like Hy-Vee. Home testing kits are also available for purchase at pharmacies.
While rapid testing may be difficult with the current program, state officials say Test Iowa’s at-home kits are useful for proactive testing, like if an individual wants to get tested before an event or have one on hand for future use.
There is no state funded testing program available to k-12 schools. The state health department says students and teachers should seek testing through "their normal health care channels." The state’s public universities have made testing available at student health centers.
2:20 p.m. - Stormy weather could arrive for high school football openers
Heavy rains brought flooding to parts of northern Iowa this morning and the forecast calls for more thunderstorms this afternoon and tonight.
National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Cogil says there could be some rough weather for tonight’s opening of high school football.
“It’s probably going to be pretty warm and humid this evening with temperatures dropping down through the 80s and still pretty humid air,” Cogil says. “In northern and western Iowa, there is the threat of scattered thunderstorms, a few of which may be severe so, certainly, keep an eye to the sky this evening.”
Much of the state can expect more of the same tomorrow, but a break from the heat may be coming. Cogil says, “The rest of the weekend looks hot and humid on Saturday with a chance of storms Saturday night and cooler on Sunday.” Highs are forecast in the 70s and low 80s on Sunday with lows that night dipping into the 50s, a pattern that should last into next week.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City via Radio Iowa
2:04 p.m. - 12-state human trafficking operation nets rescues 47 victims
Authorities made 102 arrests and rescued 47 victims as part of a 12-state effort to combat human trafficking, Missouri’s top law enforcement official said Friday.
Most of the arrests occurred Thursday night into Friday morning and came after a months-long investigation, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt said.
“Operation United Front” was conducted in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and South Dakota, where authorities conducted their operation during this month’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Undercover law enforcement officers from federal, state and local agencies arranged meetings with potential victims or posed as victims to identify buyers or traffickers, Schmitt said.
Two of the 47 victims were minors and they were rescued in Kentucky, which had the most arrests — 46 — and where 21 victims were rescued.
The Missouri investigation was conducted at a Kansas City business and led to two arrests and the rescue of four victims.
Entry via the Associated Press
1 p.m. - Iowa AG evaluating legality of Iowa City mask mandate
One week after Iowa City issued a mask mandate, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said his office is still researching whether the order violates state law.
“We want to make sure we get it right,” Miller told reporters Thursday. “We do have a little time because there’s no penalty system or enforcement.”
Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague declared a civil emergency Aug. 19 and issued a citywide mask mandate. The order requires all individuals in Iowa City to wear a face covering in all indoor public settings, including stores, restaurants and schools, and in outdoor settings where social distancing cannot be maintained.
Under a state law passed in May, local municipalities may not require the “owner of real property to implement a policy relating to the use of facial coverings that is more stringent than a policy imposed by the state.” However, the Iowa City order does not require business owners to adopt a mask mandate, instead shifting the responsibility directly onto individuals.
Immediately after the order, Pat Garrett, spokesperson for Gov. Kim Reynolds, told the Iowa City Press-Citizen that the mandate was “against the law” and “not enforceable.”
The Iowa City order does not specify any enforcement measures for individuals who do not wear a mask in public. Miller said this gives his office more time to determine if the mandate violates state law. He did not give an estimate for when the state would decide whether to pursue legal action against Iowa City.
“With no penalties, that gives us a little more breathing room, I’d say,” he said.
Entry via the Iowa Capital Dispatch
7 a.m. - Acid leak at Eddyville plant leads to evacuation
The Ajinomoto plant in Eddyville was evacuated Wednesday night because of a chemical spill.
Mahaska County 911 was notified around 8:20 p.m. about an acid leak at the plant. Ajinomoto makes amino acids that are used as supplements to make feed for dairy cattle, swine and poultry.
Eddyville residents were advised to shelter in place.
Mahaska County Sheriff Russ Van Renterghem says some type of valve at the plant blew out and was leaking. “They were able to shut the main valve off last night, that would have been around 10 or10:30…which stopped the flow,” he says. “…I think they worked until probably one or two this morning, to back pump it into a storage container.”
No injuries have been reported. Van Renterghem says the wind was coming from the northeast overnight and that was crucial. “There was a minor plume from this acid, but the wind carried the small plume to the southwest — out into an agricultural area,” he says. “Like I said, we were all very thankful that the wind wasn’t out of the southwest going toward the northeast, because we were going to have to evacuate the city of Eddyville at that time.”
Van Renterghem says the situation at the Ajinomoto plant is still being monitored, but there’s no further danger to the public.
By Joe Lancello, KBOE, Oskaloosa via Radio Iowa
Thursday, August 26
4:53 p.m. – Axne responds to Afghanistan evacuation plans
Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne says she supports President Joe Biden’s plans to continue evacuations out of Afghanistan.
Axne, who represents Iowa’s 3rd District, says her heart goes out to the families of the soldiers and others hurt and killed in explosions in Kabul.
She says the mission remains to get as many Americans and Afghan allies as possible out of the country by the end of the month. “This is the fourth president to be involved in Afghanistan. President Trump began the withdrawal and everybody believed that’s the right thing to do. And we’re going to have to, you know, deal with how the changes are happening on the ground.”
Iowa Republicans in Washington are criticizing the Biden administration following the attack. Sen. Joni Ernst said in a statement that it was foolish for Biden to leave the safety of Americans in Afghanistan up to the Taliban.
2:07 p.m. – A top health official in the Biden Administration visited Polk County Thursday
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visited Polk County as hospitalizations continue to climb statewide.
Polk County health officials say 120 people are currently hospitalized with the virus. This marks a 175 percent increase in three weeks.
Becerra stopped short of saying employers should mandate vaccinations for employees, but said they should do what they believe is necessary to protect their workforce against COVID-19. “I would want to see every employer have a safe workplace, for their employees and for their patrons. And I believe they should do everything the law permits them to do to make sure we're all safe. Because if you're not safe, I'm not safe.”
State data released this week revealed nearly 500 Iowans are currently hospitalized with the virus.
1:43 p.m. – Inmate that pleaded guilty in prison killings sentenced
A judge ruled Thursday that inmate Thomas Woodard will spend the rest of his life in prison for the brutal killings of nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland.
Woodard was sentenced to two life terms, served consecutively, for the murders of the prison staffers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.
In emotional statements to the court, victims detailed how their lives have been forever changed by the attack. McFarland’s widow, Sara McFarland, spoke directly to the defendant. “Do you know what a nightmare it is to hear someone tell you that the person that you love so much was murdered? Thanks to you, I do. It’s a horrible nightmare I never ever wake up from, no matter how hard I try.”
12:54 p.m. – Pacific Junction, in southwest Iowa, works to rebuild town population
Many of Iowa’s small towns have been losing population over the years. But one small town devastated by massive flooding in 2019 isn’t giving up hope.
The southwest Iowa town of Pacific Junction had less than 500 people before the floods. Today, just 84 people live there. City Clerk Korrena Neppl says after the flooding, people didn’t have any other option but to leave. She says the town has seen a dramatic change, especially as homes are torn down. “You take a drive through Pacific Junction or just living here, you know, you see your neighbors’ houses going down and they’re never coming back.”
Neppl says the town has been working to buy back and demolish more than 130 homes. Many of those lots will become green space, but Neppl says state funding will let them re-sell some of those lots to be built on in the future. She made her comments on IPR’s Talk of Iowa.
10:54 a.m. – Grassley criticizes Biden administration for unfilled trade positions
Sen. Chuck Grassley is calling out the Biden administration for what he says is a lack of an agenda on trade.
Grassley says President Joe Biden still needs to nominate people for two vacant high level trade positions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. “Every day that goes back without this qualified leadership in these two posts means that the U.S. is disadvantaging ourselves against our agriculture competitors.”
Grassley says he’s writing a letter to Biden urging him to nominate people for these trade positions.
9:00 a.m. - Ernst says Afghan SIV holders vetted before they reach U.S. soil
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst is responding to critics who question whether there are safety concerns about refugees being flown from Afghanistan to the United States. Ernst, a Republican, has been an outspoken supporter of resettling Afghans in Iowa.
“There is a significant vetting process that they have to go through even before they’re brought to the United States of America,” Ernst said.
Ernst, a combat veteran, was at Fort Lee in Virginia early this month to visit with Afghan civilians with Special Immigrant Visas. During a forum yesterday in Griswold, Ernst was quizzed about Afghans who would be resettled in Iowa. Ernst said all would go through the State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa process.
“Those would have to be the ones that worked for our Embassy in Afghanistan or those that worked for a government contractor, served as an interpreter — those that go through the vetting process,” Ernst said. “And, again, they are supposed to be vetted before they ever touch down on U.S. soil.”
The Special Immigrant Visa program started in 2009. Applicants must provide a letter of recommendation and proof they were employed to support U.S. government activities in Afghanistan. Refugees with these visas are now being flown to other countries before their arrival in the United States. According to the Department of Defense, they’re undergoing biometric screening, which means checking palm or fingerprints or using facial recognition software to confirm the person’s identity.
Entry via Radio Iowa
9:00 a.m. - Lawsuit argues Iowa's unemployment benefit cuts are illegal
A proposed class-action lawsuit claims that Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision to cut off enhanced unemployment benefits for tens of thousands of residents violated state law and asks a court to reinstate their eligibility.
The lawsuit, filed this week in Polk County, seeks to make claimants eligible for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment aid they have been denied since Iowa dropped federal pandemic benefit programs June 12.
Reynolds, a Republican, announced in May that Iowa would end participation in federal programs that provided an extra $300 per week to normal unemployment benefits and expanded eligibility criteria. She cited a “severe workforce shortage,” saying the move would encourage people to return to work.
Entry via the Associated Press
9:00 a.m. - Iowa sees virus surge, youth infections up as schools return
Public health officials in Iowa’s largest county are sounding alarms that too few people are wearing masks and getting vaccinated as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations climb in the state to levels not seen since January.
The surge of the COVID-19 delta variant comes as children return to schools that are barred from requiring face coverings due to a law approved earlier this year by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Officials are especially concerned in Polk County, which just hosted more than 1 million visitors to the Iowa State Fair, where mask wearing was voluntary and large crowds gathered for concerts and indoor events. The county has 82,000 children under age 12 who do not qualify for vaccination and are vulnerable to infection, said Polk County Health Department Director Helen Eddy.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 of Iowa’s 99 counties have a high rate of spread. The remaining eight are in the substantial spread category.
Entry via the Associated Press
8:30 a.m. - 7,112 new COVID-19 cases, 42 deaths reported in Iowa
Iowa health officials say the 42 new deaths occurred between July 24 and August 22.— Natalie Krebs (@natalie_krebs) August 26, 2021
Hospitalizations are up to 498 this week from 396 last week.
17,829 additional Iowans were fully vaccinated last week.
63.1% of Iowans 18+ are fully vaccinated. https://t.co/Ix9I4J330A
7:00 a.m. – DMPS will follow state law and not require masks
Des Moines Public Schools made it clear Wednesday that the district will not go against state law to require students and staff to wear masks.
Leaders of the state’s largest district say many parents have requested a mask mandate, but a law passed in May takes away local authority on the matter.
In a video message posted online, board chair Dwana Bradley said the district can only require masks if Gov. Kim Reynolds gives permission. “So far, the governor has declined to do so and she is giving us no indication of how many children will need to be infected before she will consider allowing us to have a mask mandate.”
The message was posted after Des Moines schools finished their first day of classes.
Bradley says the district supports CDC recommendations for universal mask-wearing. Reynolds has said she still supports letting parents decide whether students wear them.
Wednesday, August 25
3:27 p.m. – Lawyers consider next steps after judge tosses out challenge to Prop 12
Lawyers for pork producers are assessing their next steps after a federal judge in Iowa tossed out their efforts to block a California law on animal confinement.
The law, called Proposition 12, bars business owners from selling pork from pigs confined “in a cruel manner.”
Eldon McAfee is a lawyer for the Iowa Pork Producers Association. He says the majority of pork produced in Iowa would not meet the space requirement for breeding pigs under the law. “If that pork is sold after Proposition 12 goes into effect, if that is sold in California, it would violate the law. And there are criminal penalties under the law.“
McAfee says producers would have to shift their housing from individual crates to group sow housing to comply. He says that would cost a lot of money for producers.
2:38 p.m. - Grassley would oppose legislation requiring COVID-19 vaccines
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says Congress likely cannot ban private companies from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations among employees. Grassley cites the lawsuit challenging a vaccine mandate for staff at a Houston hospital that was dismissed in June. The federal judge said the hospital was making “a choice to keep staff, patients and their families safer.”
“I imagine you’re going to have more employers, both hospital as well as other private employers, mandate it now that FDA has given permanent approval to some of the vaccines,” Grassley said Tuesday during an interview with Radio Iowa and the Associated Press.
Earlier this week, a California senator said she’s looking into how the federal government can encourage more Americans to get vaccinated. Grassley says he’d oppose any mandate.
“I would not want to vote to make vaccinations mandatory,” Grassley said.
Grassley, who is 87, tested positive for the coronavirus last November, but he said he did not suffer from any of the symptoms of the virus. Grassley was vaccinated earlier this year and has encouraged Iowans to get the shot, calling it “the only way to we’ll beat the virus and get back our way of life.”
Entry via Radio Iowa
2:14 p.m. – Council Bluffs woman sues Reynolds and state education department over mask mandate ban
The mother of two Council Bluffs elementary students is suing Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Education over a law that bans school districts from requiring masks.
It’s the first suit to be filed against the law that was passed in May.
Fran Parr says in a GoFundMe post that she has twin boys in first grade. She says she is taking legal action for the safety of in-person learning as the delta variant spreads across the state.
Reynolds has said she continues to believe parents should decide whether their children wear masks at school.
1:51 p.m. – Study shows that feral hogs are responsible for large amount of carbon emissions
Feral hogs cause a myriad of environmental problems in a growing number of states, including parts of Iowa. A new study says they also are contributing to climate change.
Feral hogs do not have natural predators in the United States, and they are damaging agriculture and recreational land as well as threatening native plants and animals. But a new study published in the journal Global Change Biology shows that the damage wild pigs do to the ground also adds more carbon to the atmosphere.
“As they are uprooting the soil, it exposes the soil to oxygen, so that’s one way in which the carbon is released,” Chris O’Bryan of the University of Queensland in Australia is the lead author of the study. “Because that promotes the rapid development of microbes that can then break down the organic material in the soil.”
O’Bryan says that, worldwide, feral hogs are responsible for the same amount of carbon emissions as more than a million cars each year.
Entry via Harvest Public Media
8:58 a.m. - Cedar Rapids hospital officials warn of COVID surge
Public health and hospital officials say COVID-19 cases are “increasing significantly” in the Cedar Rapids area, and they’re urging residents to get vaccinated and take other steps to prevent the spread of the virus. Dr. Tony Myers, Chief Medical Officer at the Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, said they moved the pediatric unit over the weekend to convert an entire floor of the hospital for care of COVID-19 patients.
“Compared to June and July, when we had an average of one to four patients on any given day, we have 33 now,” he said during a news conference, “so that’s just a marked increase.”
Eighty-three percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Linn County this month are from the highly contagious delta variant.
“We need to put the masks back on,” Myers said. “We need to avoid gatherings and we need to stay home when we’re sick and please, please, please get vaccinated.”
Dr. Dustin Arnold, Chief Medical Officer at UnityPoint Health in Cedar Rapids, said compared to the COVID-19 patients treated during last November’s surge, current patients with the virus tend to be younger and sicker.
“Vaccination is the key. Vaccines work. They’re safe and they prevent hospitalizations and death,” he said. “…Please consider choosing to be vaccinated.”
About 63 percent of Linn County residents are fully vaccinated and Arnold said he’d like to see the community respond to that number can hit 90 percent. Linn County Public Health director Pramod Dwivedi said protecting public health is “a team sport.”
“If we get vaccinated and follow our layered preventive measures, we may avoid infections, hospitalizations and deaths,” he said.
Eight Linn County residents have died of COVID-19 in August, compared to one COVID-19 death in July. Public health officials in Iowa’s largest county say hospitalizations and deaths are surging in the Des Moines area, too. In Polk County, seven people died of COVID-19 in the first week of August, and the county’s medical examiner said those numbers are continuing to rise and the average of age of those who are dying of COVID-19 is getting younger.
Des Moines area hospitals report a 175 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past three weeks and Blank Children’s Hospital has canceled elective surgeries. Four minors are hospitalized in the Des Moines area for COVID-19. Public health officials say while that “may seem low,” that’s the highest number of patients under the age of 18 who’ve been hospitalized in Des Moines at any point of the pandemic.
Entry via Radio Iowa
6 a.m. - Federal judge dismisses Iowa pork producers’ challenge to Proposition 12
A federal judge in Iowa has dismissed the Iowa pork producers’ argument that a California animal confinement law is unconstitutional.
The law, called “Proposition 12,” will bar business owners in California from selling pork from pigs that were confined “in a cruel manner.” Proposition 12 defines “cruel manner” as giving each breeding pig less than 24 square feet of space. The law takes effect January 2022.
Iowa producers had contended complying with California’s new law would sharply increase their costs.
Federal judge C.J. Williams has ruled in favor of California state officials’ motion to dismiss the case. He writes there isn’t proof that California intended to harm Iowa pork producers when voters passed Prop 12.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association hasn’t responded to the ruling yet.
Tuesday, August 24
4:04 p.m. – Largest annual increase of drug overdoses reported for 2020
Federal officials are reporting drug overdoses jumped 30 percent nationwide in 2020, making it the biggest annual increase in U.S. history.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 428 Iowans died from drug overdoses last year. That’s compared to 346 in 2019.
Alison Lynch is the director of the University of Iowa’s Addiction and Recovery Collaborative. She says increased fear and anxiety during the pandemic was a factor in the increase. But it wasn’t the only one. “Another factor really has been the increasing contamination of the drugs with fentanyl, which is so potent, and it's much easier to overdose and die with that.”
4:03 p.m. - Some Latinos in the state who were hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine in the past are now feeling more confident
A few months ago, Mayo Neville said she just didn’t have enough information about COVID-19 vaccines to make a confident decision about getting inoculated. And this week, she got her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a Hy-Vee in West Des Moines. She says her decision was based on caring for others as she planned for a trip out of state, especially with the prominence of the Delta variant. She says it was unusual for her to choose a vaccine because her mom had always taught her home remedies were the best cure. She’s from Mexico. “She has seen now a little over time, that it is starting to get a little hot and heavy. And I just keep telling her, you know, maybe it's time to get it.”
Neville says the FDA giving full approval to the Pfizer vaccine this week had little impact on her decision to be vaccinated. It’s estimated just 28 percent of the state’s Latino and Hispanic population is fully vaccinated.
2 p.m. - ASHTW district delays school start due to coronavirus outbreak
A COVID-19 outbreak among staff in a western Iowa school district is delaying the start of school in Avoca.
The AHSTW Community School District serves the communities of Avoca, Hancock, Shelby, Tennant and Walnut. Tuesday had been scheduled as the first day of school, but Superintendent Darin Jones posted a letter on the school’s website Monday, saying the aim now is to start school next Monday, August 30.
Jones told The Des Moines Register up to 120 teachers and staff were exposed to someone with COVID-19 during a recent teacher in-service day at the school in Avoca, with eight staffers testing positive and others waiting on test results.
Entry via Radio Iowa
8:30 a.m. - State Representative Bohannan running for U.S. House
Iowa state Rep Christina Bohannan, D-Iowa City, has launched her campaign for one of Iowa’s seats in the U.S. House Tuesday. Bohannan, a University of Iowa law professor, is from Iowa City — currently in the 2nd congressional district and represented by U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, who won by a six-vote margin last year.
“A legislator represents everyone in their district, not just the people in their own party,” Bohannan told Radio Iowa Tuesday morning. “and I am very excited to get out and meet all the people and listen their stories and their experiences throughout the district, so that I can give them the very best representation for the people.”
There’s a possibility when new district lines are redrawn for the 2022 election that Iowa City and Ottumwa won’t be in the same district. Bohannan said new district maps will be a consideration later on.
“But right now, I’m just eager to get started and I’m excited,” Bohannan said. “I’ve talked to lots of people throughout the district and I’m getting a lot of support. I think this is going to be a great campaign.”
Bohannan, who is 50, defeated an incumbent Democrat in a primary last year and was elected to the Iowa House last November. Bohannan said she’s running for the U.S. House because too often she sees families struggling.
“I grew up in a very small rural town in a trailer park. My dad and mom never finished high school and my dad was a construction worker…Unfortunately, he got sick…His health insurance got cancelled and so when that happened, it was devastating,” Bohannan said. “…In America, if people work hard, they should get a fair shot and they should not have everything taking away from them just because of one bad break like getting sick or getting Covid.”
Bohannan said the “bickering” between the two parties has to stop if big issues are going to get resolved.
“All that noise and confusion and extreme party politics is really hurting the country,” Bohannan said.
Miller-Meeks issued a written statement, saying Bohannan will seek “more, not less, government control” over Iowans’ lives and personal liberties. Miller-Meeks specifically mentioned Bohannan’s vote against the bill that bans mask mandates. She also criticized Bohannan’s vote against increased penalties for rioting in Iowa.
Entry via Radio Iowa
6 a.m. – End of Gazette’s local printing press marks the end of an era
Tuesday is the last day that the Cedar Rapids Gazette will be printed locally. Starting Wednesday , printing will move to Gannett in Des Moines.
Many have called the process of putting out a newspaper a “daily miracle.” For 138 years, the printing staff of the Gazette made sure that paper miracle landed in mailboxes and on doorsteps across eastern Iowa.
Daniel Goldstein, CEO of the Gazette’s parent company, shared his admiration for the printing staff. “They’ve worked, many of them, night shifts for, as you said, decades. And it’s not the most glamorous job, but they’ve built a community, a family. And I think that’s why they have a lot of sadness.”
Goldstein says the shutdown is needed to keep the Gazette sustainable, so it can continue its 138 year legacy. “Anything that can decrease costs increases the sustainability of the organization. And this is absolutely essential to continuing that. We are committed to maintaining what has been our 138 year legacy.”
About 40 people will lose their jobs as a result of the closure.
6 a.m. - Indianola school board delays mascot discussion
The Indianola school board is delaying a discussion about changing the district’s ‘Indians’ mascot and logo until after school board elections in November.
Several community members renewed the call to change the team name earlier this year. The district has also received a request from the Iowa Commission of Native American Affairs to choose a new mascot.
The Indianola board members said they want to focus on the start of the school year and managing the delta variant in classrooms.
They also asked for suggestions on how to hold public forums and gather community input on the issue in the future.
Monday, August 23
4:20 p.m. – Redistricting advisory committee plans public hearings for political boundaries
Iowa’s temporary redistricting advisory committee is planning to hold once-a-decade public hearings on proposed political boundaries virtually for the first time instead of in-person.
The Legislative Services Agency is working on drawing new boundaries for legislative and congressional districts. LSA still plans to submit those maps by Sept. 16, and the redistricting committee is required to hold at least three public hearings after that.
In the past, those have been held in different physical locations around the state. The committee voted Monday to hold virtual hearings on the evenings of Sept. 20 and 22 and the afternoon of Sept. 21. Committee members said this would allow more Iowans to participate.
Iowans will also have the option of submitting written comments online.
2 p.m. - Carroll County adopts ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’ resolution
Carroll County has become the sixth so-called “Second Amendment Sanctuary County” in Iowa.
The Board of Supervisors took the vote Monday morning. Supervisor Rich Ruggles said he listened to a lot of people on both sides of the argument.
“I believe that the Constitution has been bent a lot lately, and I’m quite concerned, and I don’t want to give any traction or footing on this issue,” he said. “As I also read this is kind of symbolic that we do this. It really has no teeth. It has not much bearing, but I also think it’s a clear message that we send this to legislative people from a local level.”
Carroll County Attorney John Werden said he reviewed several drafts of similar policies adopted by counties in Iowa and Missouri.
“I think the only thing that is really political about this is it uses the word ‘sanctuary’ in the right way,” Werden said, “Sanctuary cities and counties — that has been code word for those who want to disobey the law, for those who want to want to ignore federal law in other areas, so I think it’s great that we’ve co-opted their word and used it for the law abiding citizens of this county.”
Members of the public attended the meeting and some spoke before the vote was taken. Dick Searle said the resolution is “purely propaganda” and a scare tactic.
“The people who are sponsoring this thing have tried to scare you into believing that the guns are going to be taken away, and they talk about their constitutional rights. The state supreme court or the federal supreme court is going to knock down any law that takes away your constitutional rights,” Searle said. “This thing is unnecessary.”
The resolution passed on a 4-1 vote. Supervisor Dean Schettler was the lone no vote.
“I own guns. I don’t want my guns to be taken away because then I can’t shoot rabbits and pheasants. Everybody else is probably in the same boat,” he said, “but I guess I don’t want this to be construed by the bad guys as a place where they can come and build an arsenal of guns.”
The boards of supervisors in Adams, Cedar, Hardin, Jasper and Madison Counties have also adopted second amendment resolutions this summer.
By Chantelle Grove, KCIM, Carroll via Radio Iowa
1:45 p.m. - Attendance was down at this year’s state fair
Attendance at this year’s Iowa State Fair was down about six percent from the total in 2019.
State fair officials say just under 100,000 people attended the last day of the fair Sunday, putting this year’s total at about 1,094,000. 2019’s figure was a record 1.7 million.
Five of the fair’s 11 days saw crowds of more than 100,000 people, compared to nine of the 11 days in 2019. The first Friday of this year’s fair was the only day when the 2021 attendance was larger than the same day two years ago.
7: 30 a.m. - Rock band cancels concert over Iowa's vaccine passport ban
A rock band canceled an Iowa concert because of the state’s so-called vaccine passport ban.
The band Spoon nixed its Sept. 9 Des Moines show, The Des Moines Register reported. Spoon instead will pay a show at Omaha, Nebraska’s Slowdown music hall.
The band posted on Instagram that it wanted Des Moines’ Hoyt Sherman Place to require concertgoers to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.
But a new Iowa law bans businesses from requiring proof of vaccination.
“Due to Iowa’s limitations of vaccine mandates, we’re regrettably canceling the Sept. 9 Des Moines show,” Spoon wrote in the Instagram post.
Entry via the Associated Press
6 a.m. - Thousands of college students return to class Monday at Iowa’s public universities
Thousands of students at Iowa’s Regents universities are returning to class Monday, as the highly infectious delta variant spreads across the state.
While the Board of Regents is encouraging masks and vaccines, it’s not requiring them, as universities across the country have done. That’s despite concerns raised by hundreds of faculty, staff and students.
Christine Petersen directs the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa. She’s especially concerned that increased transmission on campus could impact the immunocompromised and young kids who can’t be vaccinated.
“Those are the people who are really terrified right now. So there’s been tons of parents really wondering what to do, trying to balance the challenges of yet more online school versus putting their kids into a situation where they could get a pretty bad infection.”
While classroom transmission may happen, Petersen says she’s much more worried about off-campus social gatherings.
“We know that college is supposed to be fun and free years of life, but it’s also when you’re making that transition into adulthood. And we really need you to be grownups and take responsibility for your body…and your body as a transmission tool. Please wear masks. Get vaccinated.”
The Board of Regents announced in May it would lift mask requirements and return campuses to their pre-pandemic capacity. A mask mandate put in place by the city of Iowa City last week will not apply to the University of Iowa.
6 a.m. - Iowa man charged in Capitol riot may be returned to jail
A prosecutor says an Iowa man seen in a videotaped confrontation with a police officer during the Capitol insurrection should be returned to jail until trial because he violated terms of his release by watching anti-government internet videos about the Jan. 6 attack.
Douglas Jensen was released in July after spending six months in jail. At the time, Jensen told a judge that he had been duped by QAnon conspiracy theories, saying he “bought into a pack of lies” and had since experienced a “wake-up call.”
Thirty days later, on Aug. 13, a pretrial services officer found Jensen in his garage in Des Moines listening to the news on a video-sharing website similar to YouTube that features anti-vaccine and anti-government content, according to a court filing Thursday.
Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips wrote that the swift violation confirms what the government and the judge suspected all along: “that Jensen’s alleged disavowal of QAnon was just an act.”
Jensen’s defense attorney Christopher Davis declined to comment and said he planned to file a reply on Monday.
Video of the Jan. 6 insurrection shows Jensen wearing a T-shirt bearing the letter “Q,” a symbol of the QAnon conspiracy theory, when he joined a mob that approached Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman inside the building and followed the officer up two flights of stairs.
In releasing Jensen, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said he didn’t put too much weight on Jensen’s claims. He also told Jensen that if he accessed the internet, he could be returned to jail.
Court documents say that when the officer found him this month, Jensen was using an iPhone that he said he got from his wife two weeks earlier, even though his wife had promised to help him comply with the judge’s directions. He admitted to watching additional content promoting conspiracies about the 2020 presidential election.
“Contrary to what Jensen claimed at his bond hearing, he is still very much bought into QAnon’s `pack of lies,’” Phillips wrote.
Jensen, 41, faces charges including civil disorder and assaulting, resisting or impeding a law enforcement officer.
Entry via the Associated Press