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State reports 91 additional deaths, 9,860 new cases of COVID-19

Daily Digest

Thursday, October 7

2:11 p.m. - Bob Krause announces third bid for U.S. Senate seat

A fourth candidate has announced he intends to compete in the Iowa Democratic Party’s 2022 Primary for U.S. Senate and the chance to challenge Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s bid for an eighth term.

Seventy-one-year-old Bob Krause of Burlington ran unsuccessfully for the party’s Senate nomination in 2010 and 2016. He released a recorded statement on YouTube: “I was eight years old when Grassley was first elected to the Iowa House…and then I saw him move on to the U.S. House and the United States Senate,” Krause said, “and 41 years later I can tell you those 41 years were not good for Iowa and they were not good for the nation.”

Former Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer, of Cedar Rapids, former Crawford County Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer, and Glenn Hurst, a doctor from Minden, are the three candidates who’ve previously announced they’re seeking the spot on the ballot to challenge Grassley next year.

Krause said he’s running because he fears Republicans will try to sabotage the 2022 election. “We are in the midst of a gathering storm and this election is about saving our democracy from destruction,” Krause said. “Simply put, I can to be part of the solution.”

Krause announced in 2013 that he would run for governor, but he endorsed another candidate a few months later and did not file the paperwork to have his name on the 2014 primary ballot. In the 1970s, Krause served three terms in the state legislature. In 1978, he ran for state treasurer, losing to the Republican incumbent.

Entry via Radio Iowa

12:13 p.m. – Iowa families who’ve lost income because of the pandemic can apply for a new water bill assistance program

Iowa will begin accepting applications for a water bill assistance program Friday.

The new federal Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program is part of an ongoing effort to help families who have lost income because of COVID-19. The program will run until 2023 or until there is no money left, and those in charge of disbursing it say they expect all funds to be used.

Paula Arkema is with IMPACT Community Action Partnership, the agency that will be in charge of the program for five counties in central Iowa.

“You know, a family, if their water is shut off, that could make a home become uninhabitable. There could certainly be health effects that would impact the family as a result of that.”

The pilot program has a little more than $10 million to distribute to families who meet the requirements.

8 a.m. - Ernst says U.S. immigration law should specifically bar those with sex crime convictions

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst is the lead sponsor of legislation that would make it clear immigrants and refugees seeking asylum should be barred from entering the United States if they have been convicted of a serious sex crime.

“Right now, the current laws on the books don’t effectively target those who have been convicted of sexual assault and sexual violence,” Ernst says. “We desperately need to update these laws to make sure we block sexual predators from immigrating to the U.S.”

Under current federal immigration law, those seeking entry into the U.S. may be barred or deported if they have been convicted of an aggravated felony or deviant behavior in another country. Ernst suggests federal law should be more specific.

“This is a common sense, urgently needed solution to modernize our immigration policies and combat sexual violence and those seeking to exploit our law,” Ernst says.

Eleven Republican Senators are co-sponsoring the bill, including Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. Ernst says there’s “no hard data” about how many foreign nationals with a sex crime conviction may have been admitted into the United States.

“We need to make sure that we’re not allowing unvetted people into the United States,” Ernst said, “especially those that have been charged and convicted of a sexual offense.”

The U.S. Border Patrol recently announced it had arrested a Guatemalan man in Texas, near the Mexican border, who had been convicted a dozen years ago of a felony sex crime in Buena Vista County, Iowa. The agency said the man had been “properly processed,” but it’s not clear if that means the man was held in U.S. custody or deported.

Entry via Radio Iowa

Wednesday, October 6

3:43 p.m. - State reports 91 additional deaths, 9,860 new cases of COVID-19

State health officials are reporting 9,860 new COVID-19 infections in the past week.

626 Iowans are currently hospitalized with the virus, a slight increase from last week.

And 91 additional Iowans have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19 in the past week. This brings the total to more than 6,654.

Ali Mokdad is with the University of Washington Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation.

He says Iowa is still seeing high rates of new infections now due to residents’ high mobility, low vaccination rates and low rates of mask usage.

“Mask wearing in Iowa is very low – 21 percent. Whereas the nation is 41 percent. So mask wearing is very, very low.”

Mokdad predicts new infections will start declining next week, followed by a drop in hospitalizations and then death rates. But he said new infections will likely increase again this winter.

2:41 p.m. – Iowa LSA plans to submit second redistricting maps Oct. 21

Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency announced Wednesday it will finish drawing a second set of redistricting maps by October 21.

That’s after the Republican-controlled Iowa Senate rejected the first set of maps Tuesday that were drawn by the nonpartisan LSA.

The LSA plans to get the map drawing done in 16 days, even though the law gives the agency 35 days to complete the second set of maps. Lawmakers have to wait at least 7 days to vote on the maps after that, so the earliest they could vote on the maps in a special session is October 28.

If the legislature rejects the second set of maps, Democrats are concerned the Republican majority will gerrymander the third set of maps in their favor. If the LSA continues at this faster pace, it’s possible there will be time for that to happen before the December 1 deadline.

2:22 p.m. – Iowa is revamping its coronavirus testing program in response to increased demand

State health officials have announced they are making changes to the state’s COVID-19 testing program due to the increasing demand for testing across the state.

The state has launched a testing site locator on its coronavirus website where residents can search for nearby testing sites using their address. The locator will provide information on the type of tests provided at each site as well as any associated costs.

Additionally, officials say seven drop off locations for the state’s at-home Test Iowa kits will offer same-day delivery to the state hygienic lab if dropped off on a weekday.

Iowans who do not live near a same-day drop off site can still bring their testing kits to another designated Test Iowa drop off location or ship it using the pre-printed UPS label in the kit.

Test Iowa pick up and drop off locations can be found at Test Iowa website.

1:28 p.m. – UNI student government proposes a resolution condemning school leaders for sanctioning professor over mask mandate

The University of Northern Iowa student government has proposed a resolution condemning school leaders for sanctioning a professor who required masks in his classroom.

Biology professor Steve O’Kane was relieved of his in-person teaching duties after he mandated masks, leaving students in his plant systematics class in limbo.

UNI student government president Samantha Bennett has proposed a resolution condemning school administrators and the Iowa Board of Regents for how the situation was handled.

The student senate is slated to vote on the resolution at a meeting Wednesday night.

9 a.m. - Immigrants living in central Iowa have a new option to help them prepare for the U.S. citizenship test

Immigrants studying for their U.S. citizenship exam now have a new option to help them prepare.

Latinx Immigrants of Iowa works to empower Latinos in Iowa. It has added U.S. citizenship classes to its plans.

“We know, as a fact, that there is a need for spaces, you know? Where people can actually go at their own pace.” Raquel Medina teaches the class. She emigrated from Mexico and is now a citizen. And says she hopes students see her as an example for what they can achieve.

“Most of the families, they really want just to focus on family on work and achieving their dreams, when they move here from their country. So, it's very important for them to know that they can do it, on their own pace.”

She says students will more likely pass the 100-question test if they’re studying in a place they feel comfortable.

The director of the organization says there are currently about 50 people on the waiting list for the 12-week class. Once they get a better understanding of people’s schedules, they also want to add English-language and computer classes.

9 a.m. - Reynolds joining Republican governors for Texas border tour

Gov. Kim Reynolds will travel to Texas to join nine other Republican governors for a Wednesday tour of the border with Mexico.

The cost of the trip will be shared between Iowa taxpayers and a nonprofit Republican governor’s group.

Reynolds spokesman Alex Murphy said the trip is an official visit and taxpayers will pay about $500 in lodging for Reynolds and staff accompanying her. The Republican Governors Public Policy Committee will fund the transportation to Texas. Murphy didn’t immediately respond to questions about whether Reynolds is flying and, if so, whether she’s taking a private airplane and who owns the aircraft.

Further details of the 2,400-mile round trip were not provided by Reynolds’ office, but a press release from Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s office said it is a visit to the border “to witness firsthand the crisis playing out, reveal their proposed solutions, and once again call on President Joe Biden to act to secure the border immediately.”

Reynolds and other Republican governors from across the country have focused on border issues and criticized Democratic Joe Biden for his immigration policies.

On Wednesday, Reynolds will join with Republican governors from Texas, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Georgia, Nebraska, Ohio and Oklahoma for events at the border.

Entry via the Associated Press

8 a.m. - State low income heating assistance program has more funding this year

The program that helps low-income Iowans with their heating bills will have more money this year.

Christine Taylor oversees the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“Our program begins November 1 of every year, but if there are households that have someone in the home that is 60 years of age or older or disabled, then those households can begin applying October 1. This year we do have more money than we have had in the past. We received funds from the American Rescue Act just for that specific part of our program,” Taylor says.

That money is on top of what they will get from the state. She says they will be passing the extra money onto the recipients.
“Regular payment is around $470, and we are anticipating that households will receive an extra bump sometime in the spring, and we’re hoping it will be somewhere around that amount,” according to Taylor.

Taylor says the spring payment is important, as it will come after the moratorium that prevents utility shutoffs for lack of payment ends. “Usually when they are coming out a moratorium, there are bills that they haven’t been able to pay over the winter, and we can help with that,” she says. “We can be proactive, and we might be able to relieve some of that tension that everyone has been feeling.”

Taylor says they’ve already helped some Iowans through their emergency program. “This year, because of the influx of funding, we have been able to help people with some really high arrearages, and hopefully that will help them stay on top of their bills a little easier,” Taylor says.

Taylor says the unpaid bills can get quite high. “We’ve seen quite a few at $3,000 or $4,000 in arrears. And when it gets that high you begin to feel pretty helpless, like you’ll never be able to pay that down,” Taylor says. “The people that we serve, many of them are working poor, and they simply don’t make enough.”

More information about the LIHEAP program can be found at the Department of Human Services website.

Entry via Radio Iowa

Tuesday, October 5

3:29 p.m. - Students voice support for UNI professor who was punished for requiring masks in his class

Students of an Iowa professor who was sanctioned for requiring masks in his classroom are voicing support for their teacher.

Students in Steve O’Kane’s plant systematics class at the University of Northern Iowa penned a letter of support Tuesday that was forwarded to the Board of Regents and school administrators.

Student Brian Yarahmadi says the class willingly went along with O’Kane’s mask mandate and feel they are also being punished after he was ordered to stop teaching in-person. “For us it was scary, because he was just a biology professor who was following the science. And you saw what they did to him and how they came after him, and it was vicious, and it was scary to a lot of us. So we wanted to say that we support him.”

O’Kane has been warned that he may be fired if he doesn’t follow school policy, which prohibits requiring masks.

The Board of Regents has refused to adjust its guidance for state universities, even after the rise of the highly infectious delta variant.

1:50 p.m. - Iowa Senate Republicans reject state’s first proposed redistricting plan

Iowa Senate Republicans have voted to reject the state’s first proposed redistricting plan. The proposed legislative and congressional districts were drawn by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

All 32 GOP senators voted against the plan, and all 18 Democrats voted for it.

Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, is the bill manager. He says while the maps may satisfy Iowa law, he thinks they can be improved in terms of population deviation and compactness. “This map includes a triangle, a pyramid, a figure 8, and a district that is so irregular, it looks like the 1800s salamander known for gerrymandering.”

Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, says the plan satisfies Iowa law. “This map is fair. It’s independent. It does not give advantage of one party over another. It does not, nor should it.”

The Iowa House of Representatives didn’t get a chance to vote on the maps because the Senate rejected them first.

The LSA has 35 days to draw a second set of redistricting maps. At that point, the Iowa Legislature will have to come back to the statehouse to vote to approve or reject them. They can’t amend the second set of maps, but they are allowed to amend a potential third set of maps. The Iowa Supreme Court says redistricting needs to be completed by December 1.

Updated 4:13 p.m.

12:16 p.m. - The Meskwaki Nation’s Health Clinic earns national recognition for its COVID-19 vaccination efforts

The Meskwaki Nation’s Tribal Health Center is getting national recognition for its COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

The health clinic’s approximately 50 person staff is receiving the Heroes in Health Award, the National Indian Health Board’s most prestigious award.

Rudy Papakee is the director of the Meskwaki Health Clinic. He estimates just under 90 percent of the settlement’s eligible population is fully vaccinated. That’s much higher than the state average of 63 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Papakee says the tribe used CARES Act funding to offer Visa gift cards as incentives for tribal employees and local Native Americans to get the shot.

“The people that were on the fence were the ones that kind of said, ‘well, hey, you know, for a couple 100 bucks, I'm going to get the vaccine now.’”

Papakee says the center also used federal funding to purchase a travel bus to create a mobile clinic in order to share the abundance of vaccine doses it received from the federal government with other communities around the state.

“So we're able to take tables, vaccines, staff, supplies necessary and do a lot of outreach clinics, both, you know, locally to the Tama, Toledo, Iowa area. And then also in the Des Moines area, Newton, Marshalltown.”

11:42 a.m. – Iowa Senate committee advances redistricting plan

The Senate State Government Committee has advanced Iowa’s first proposed redistricting plan to the full Senate, but the committee didn’t make a recommendation for or against passage.

No senators or members of the public talked about the plan during the very brief committee meeting.

Iowa Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport, is the bill manager. “Thank you madam chair, I move SSB1277B approved without recommendation to the full Senate.”

This was the first opportunity for lawmakers to vote on Iowa’s first proposed redistricting maps. The maps were drawn by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

The full Iowa Senate is expected to vote on the maps this Tuesday.

9 a.m. - Iowa Poll finds Trump’s favorability rating is 53%

A new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll finds former President Donald Trump’s favorability rating in Iowa is higher now than it was while he was president.

Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Des Moines Saturday, his first trip back to the state since leaving office in January. The Des Moines Register Iowa Poll found 53 percent of those surveyed have a very favorable or mostly favorable view of the former president.

Among Republicans, Trump’s favorability rating is 91 percent. That’s 10 points better than U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s favorability measurement among Republicans.

Entry via Radio Iowa

7 a.m. - UNI professor who was disciplined for requiring masks in class says he didn’t get much pushback from students

A University of Northern Iowa professor who was disciplined for requiring his students to wear masks says he didn’t get much pushback in the classroom.

Biology Professor Steve O’Kane says he told students if they didn’t follow his mandate, he would dock lab points. He is now required to teach classes only online, and has lost eligibility for merit pay.

O’Kane says he was trying to keep students safe. “We work cheek by jowl, we hover over one another at microscopes, we have our heads literally touching, looking at specimens. And it's imperative that we wear masks, not for just us or me, it's imperative that we wear masks, because this virus knows no boundaries.”

UNI’s faculty union has filed a complaint with the state’s Public Employment Relation Board and is appealing the disciplinary action.

O’Kane made his comments Monday on IPR’s River to River.

Monday, October 4

3:20 p.m. – More than three dozen inmates and prison staffers have contracted breakthrough COVID cases

More than three dozen inmates and staffers in Iowa prisons have had breakthrough cases of COVID-19, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Department staff say that 16 inmates and 26 employees have tested positive after being vaccinated.

The department’s Matthew Morris told the Board of Corrections last week that these breakthrough cases have typically been less severe, but not always.

“We did have one incarcerated individual that did have to go to the hospital and did have to be ventilated who was a breakthrough case. But he had some underlying conditions of COPD and some liver disease as well. So I think that probably contributed to that.”

The number of prison employees getting COVID-19 vaccinations continues to lag far behind the number of incarcerated individuals doing so. According to the department, 85 percent of inmates and 58 percent of employees are fully vaccinated.

1:59 p.m. – ISU pandemic graduates have the opportunity to finally walk across the stage

Iowa State University graduates who didn’t get to attend their commencement in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic will get their chance to walk across the stage Saturday.

Abbie Suntken with Iowa State says this will be meaningful for the students. “Many of our graduates are very excited and very happy about us putting this on. A lot of them thought they lost the opportunity, especially for some who this has been a dream to have parents and friends, to watch them walk across the stage and get their degree.”

Iowa State says around 12,000 students graduated between May 2020 and August 2021, and they are eligible to join the celebration this weekend.

Suntken says the only difference between this ceremony and their regular graduations will be size. “The number of students attending is much more intimate than our normal fall or spring ceremony. We’re only looking under 400 students attending this ceremony, where in the fall ceremony we have 1,500 to 2,000. In the spring, we usually have double that.”

12:30 p.m. - Facebook whistleblower Haugen was raised in Iowa City

The Facebook whistleblower who will testify in congress this week was born and raised in Iowa City.

Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, kept her identity a secret when she filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission against Facebook and shared internal Facebook documents with The Wall Street Journal. Last night, Haugen was revealed as the whistleblower during a report on 60 Minutes, and Haugen said she will testify to congress that Facebook has deceived regulators and the public about its monitoring of hate speech and misinformation.

She said on 60 Minutes that Facebook “is choosing profit over safety.”

Haugen is a 2002 graduate of Iowa City West High School, and her website says her parents are professors. Haugen has an electrical and computer engineering degree from Olin College and a Harvard MBA. She worked at Google and Yelp before she was hired at Facebook in 2019. She resigned from Facebook in May of this year.

A spokesperson for Facebook told CNN the social media platform reflects the good, the bad and the ugly of humanity, and Facebook is trying to mitigate the bad and amplify the good.

Entry via Radio Iowa

11:28 a.m. - State reports 9.6% 14-day test positivity rate

8 a.m. – Sky high farmland prices prevent young farmers and POC from buying land

The price of farmland is sky high right now, partly because of low interest rates and high prices for corn and soybeans. And while that’s good news for land owners, it’s making it harder for people trying to buy.

“The negative of high farmland prices would be that buying farmland, particularly for young farm operations, becomes harder,” says Gary Schnitkey, a professor of farm management at the University of Illinois.

Studies show that high prices tend to shut out young farmers and people of color who have historically been kept out of agriculture.

Schnitkey predicts farmland values will stabilize once the price of corn and soybeans comes down or if interest rates go up. “I do not think farmland prices are going to continue at their high rates that they have in this year, 2021, because it simply isn’t sustainable.”

Entry via Harvest Public Media

7 a.m. – If you haven’t thought about your holiday shopping yet, you might want to start

Supply chain experts are encouraging Iowans to begin their holiday shopping now, if they haven’t already. This year’s shopping season will have hurdles similar to last year, with some new challenges.

The supply chain is still trying to balance itself after COVID’s first year. And Scott Grawe, the chair of Iowa State University’s department of supply chain management, is recommending Iowans start shopping now. Grawe says there will likely be some empty physical and online shelves because of slow shipping times combined with a labor shortage.

“The supply chain is still trying to get itself back into balance. And it's not yet balanced, which means for a lot of different products, you're going to find either empty shelves or shelves that are not replenished quite as you might like, which is certainly going to create some issues when it comes to holiday shopping.”

Since many shoppers may find themselves in a pinch this year, Grawe predicts gift certificates may be a popular, and more reliable, present choice.

“While you may not get the exact thing that you're looking for, there may be a perfectly good substitute out there as well. So as you're thinking about your holiday shopping plans, you may want to have a plan B and plan C available as well.”

Friday, October 1

3:52 p.m. – Iowa abortion rights groups form coalition to oppose proposed amendment to the state’s constitution

Several groups that support abortion rights have formed a coalition to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that could open the door to more abortion restrictions in Iowa.

The coalition includes Planned Parenthood, groups representing Black and Indigenous Iowans, LGBTQ advocates, and others.

The Republican-led legislature agreed on language for the constitutional amendment in May. If lawmakers approve the same language in 2023 or 2024, it will go on the ballot for voters to decide.

Gabriela Fuentes is a senior strategist with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa. “It’s more important than ever that pro-reproductive rights groups across this state join together in the fight against the widely unpopular constitutional amendment stripping us of our fundamental right to abortion.”

A recent Des Moines Register Iowa Poll showed a majority of Iowans think abortion should be legal. Republican lawmakers have said the Iowa Supreme Court was wrong when it struck down an abortion waiting period and ruled that abortion rights have strong legal protections.

3:13 p.m. – Iowa’s Republican state Senators haven’t said if they’ll approve proposed redistricting maps

State Sen. Majority Leader Jack Whitver, of Ankeny, says Republican senators haven’t made a final decision on whether to approve or reject the first set of proposed redistricting maps.

In an interview with IPR, Whitver said Senate Republicans plan to hold a private meeting when the special legislative session begins Tuesday.

“We’re going to talk through what we want to do as a team, and then we’ll go from there. A number of our members have expressed concerns with the map, other members have seen positive aspects of the map. But until we get together Tuesday, we won’t have a final decision.”

Democratic leaders say they will vote to approve the first set of proposed legislative and congressional district boundaries. The maps were drawn by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. If the maps are rejected, LSA has 35 days to draw a second plan.

Whitver also says he doesn’t anticipate other bills will be considered next week. He says Senate Republicans are very concerned about COVID-19 vaccine requirements, but they don’t have any current legislation to address them.

3 p.m. - UAW, John Deere reach tentative contract agreement

The United Auto Workers union, which represents thousands of Iowans, says it has reached a tentative contract agreement with John Deere.

They say no details will be released until after union members vote on it October 10, but did say that the proposed national contract includes "significant gains" for workers. A company spokesperson says it includes "significant economic gains" and "continues to provide the highest quality health care benefits in the industry."

Negotiations began in August, and the new agreement covers 10,000 employees at 12 facilities in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas.

The announcement came just a few hours after announcement of a contract extension – the original contract was to expire Friday.

Entry via WVIK 

1:22 p.m. - State reports 9.5% 14-day test positivity rate

12:43 p.m. – Qualifying Iowans will see an increase in SNAP benefits

The state Department of Human Services has announced most Iowans who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP) will see their benefits increase starting this month.

The permanent increased rate is due to a recent review of the SNAP program by the federal government. However, the change coincides with the end of a different temporary increase in SNAP benefits that was put in place under a federal COVID-19 relief bill.

DHS says the result is that most households will see an average increase of about $12 to $16 per month for each person.

Iowans affected by the change will automatically receive the increased benefits on their EBT cards this month

8:30 a.m. - Drought conditions increase with September ending drier than normal

The latest drought monitor reflects the lack of rain we’ve seen in the state in September.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Tim Hall says some areas that were in D-1 moderate drought have now moved to the D-2 severe drought category.
“About double the amount of the state that is currently in D-2, pulling some of the D-1 areas up into D-2. So, there’s a large area of dryness in east-central Iowa,” he says.

Only about 24% of the state is reporting not-drought conditions — down from about 25% last week.

Hall says the shift at the end of September from the growing season or “water year” adds to the subsoil moisture concerns. “That’s primarily because most of what falls in the fall and into the winter is used in the next growing season — so we kind of start to add up numbers after October 1,” Hall says. “It becomes a question of where do we get positioned for the 2022 year.”

He says the need to bank moisture for next year varies across the state. “The deficits, depending on where you are — southeast Iowa ran a surplus for the water year — they are about an inch ahead for the year that ends in September. Central Iowa is the worst at ten inches deficit. Other parts of the state are finding from three to six inches behind for that 12-month period,” according to Hall.

Hall says one positive is the plants are not pulling water from the ground, and the cooler weather leads to less moisture lost from evaporation. “Demand goes down, we just would love to see some more moisture on the supply side to kind of build up those reserves and it’s just not there yet,” he says. He says there can be replenishing rains in October and November.
“As we exit the summer months — particularly July and August — the average amount of rain we get per month just continues to drop as the calendar year rolls out,” Hall says.

Halls says 2020 was also a dry year — so the state started out behind and hasn’t been able to fully replenish the groundwater through this year.

Entry via Radio Iowa

8 a.m. - Remains found in Montezuma may be those of boy who went missing in May

State investigators will try to determine if human remains found Thursday a few miles outside Montezuma are those of Xavior Harrelson.

The boy disappeared from his home in late May, shortly before his 11th birthday. Mitch Mordvedt is the assistant director of the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation. He said in remarks shared on Twitter by KCCI-TV that a farmer discovered the remains in a field.

“The clothing we see on scene, even though it’s obviously soiled and stuff, is consistent to what we knew Xavior to last be wearing.”

Mortvedt says it could take days or weeks to positively identify the remains.

Montezuma is located about halfway between Des Moines and Iowa City. Investigators have been searching the area for the last four months, examining whether the boy was abducted, ran away or had some kind of accident.

7 a.m. – Des Moines refugee services office says a second Afghan refugee has resettled in Iowa

The Des Moines office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants says it has accepted and resettled Iowa’s second refugee from Afghanistan.

The first Afghan family to be resettled in Iowa after the Taliban takeover came in August. They’re currently in Ankeny. The office says it hopes more will follow.

The Des Moines office says it has resettled 55 refugees this month from a variety of countries – more than any of the organization’s other affiliate offices.

7 a.m. - Iowa lawmakers vote on party lines on federal funding bill

Iowa’s Congressional delegation voted on party lines Thursday on a funding bill aimed at avoiding a shutdown of the federal government.

Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst voted against the measure. So did Republican Representatives Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra. Democrat Cindy Axne was the only Iowa lawmaker to vote in favor.

The bill passed both chambers and was signed by President Joe Biden.

It extends federal funding through December 3, but does not raise the borrowing limit. Congress must do that by mid-October to avoid defaulting on federal debt.