News

senate subcommittee meeting
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republican senators advanced three proposals and tabled one this week that would change eligibility requirements for public assistance programs.

Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) chaired the three-member subcommittee meetings on each of the bills. The Opportunity Solutions Project, which is associated with a conservative think tank based in Florida, submitted the proposals.

“A lot of these bills are focused on the public general perception that there is a large fraud problem,” Schultz said. “But I’ve looked into it—I’m not sure there is.”

Ted Eytan/Flickr

 

On this "news buzz" edition of River to River, IPR's State Government Reporter Katarina Sostaric joins with updates from the state legislature. Then, we hear from Jesse Vroegh, the focus of a recent ruling in Polk County which determined that the state of Iowa had engaged in discrimination by forcing him to use a restoom at his workplace, the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women, that did not align with his gender identity.

Amy Mayer / IPR file photo

After more than 20 years, an early tool of genetic engineering in crops is doing more than just killing pests. It’s providing environmental benefits, too, according to a new study in the journal Biological Control.

John Pemble / IPR File Photo

To amend the state constitution, two consecutive Iowa General Assemblies must approve a resolution. Then it must be approved by Iowa voters. But first, the Secretary of State must publish the amendment in newspapers.

Artemisia Fioristi

More cut flowers are purchased on Valentine’s Day than on any other day of the year, in spite of the fact that the holiday falls in the dead of winter.

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks to horticulturists Richard Jauron and Cindy Haynes about how to get the most out of your cut flowers. They also share tips for how to bring springtime into our homes by forcing flowering tree and shrub branches into bloom. Later in the hour, Haynes and Jauron answer listener questions. 

Ben VanHouten

The Des Moines Symphony and guest conductor Gerard Schwarz take the stage this weekend for the DMSO’s Masterworks IV concert.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the wcfsymphony and their “Valentine Attraction” concert this weekend.

The program features “passionate music of star-crossed lovers by Debussy, Gershwin and others including a rarely-heard orchestral setting of Romeo and Juliet.”

Listen below as the wcfsymphony Artistic Director and Conductor Jason Weinberger shares special insight into Saturday’s performance.

For wcf tickets and more information, visit https://wcfsymphony.org/tickets-events/

PROGRAM

jeff  danielson
John Pemble / IPR

Sen. Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls) abruptly resigned Thursday afternoon from the Iowa Senate. 

The four-term Democrat submitted a one-sentence resignation letter Thursday to the leaders of the House and Senate.

TumblingRun / flickr

Modern medicine helps us live longer, but what about the quality of those extra years? In her new book "The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life," bestselling author Katy Butler writes about how to live, age, and die with meaning. 

"Dying well is a process. It's not an act," she says. "The point I'm trying to make here is that this is not a process to start when you're making a panicked call to 911 at the end of life." 

"Living well naturally segues into dying well."

LISA MARIE MAZZUCCO

This week’s Symphonies of Iowa features the wcfsymphony and their “Gala Season Opener” concert, with a special appearance from acclaimed American concert pianist Simone Dinnerstein.

Composer Philip Glass informed Simone Dinnerstein that he wanted to compose a piece specifically for her. She loved the idea and devised a plan to involve orchestras in the U.S. and Canada. Simone set forth to organize a consortium of orchestras, and the wcfsymphony was one of them.

Meche Kroop for Voce di Meche

Waterloo native MaKayla McDonald made Iowa proud when she sang the title role in the New York premiere of Thea Musgrave’s The Story of Harriet Tubman, put on by Utopia Opera in New York.

reynolds
John Pemble/IPR file photo

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to allow Iowans to get some forms of birth control directly from a pharmacist without going to a doctor first has an uncertain future at the statehouse.

The bill would allow specially trained pharmacists to dispense up to a one-year supply of some forms of birth control, and would require insurance to cover it.

Rep. Shannon Lundgren (R-Peosta) chairs the House Human Resources Committee. She said Wednesday Republicans on the committee are discussing the proposal, a priority of the governor.

Katie Peikes/IPR

A mental health center that had an uncertain future nearly a year ago, will soon be shared by counties across the western part of the state. The move comes as Woodbury County changes the way it will provide mental health services next budget year.

Kate Payne

One of rural Iowa’s most unique restaurants is losing its chef, leaving the future of the Ladora Bank Bistro somewhat uncertain. The struggle to find a new owner for the restaurant shows how difficult it can be to keep historic buildings open in small town Iowa. 

Stacey MacNaught/Flickr

 

With social networks at our fingertips, it’s easy to feel like we’re more connected than ever before, but your constant scrolling, liking, and app downloading may actually decrease your quality of life.

That’s according to “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World”, a new book by Georgetown computer scientist and author Cal Newport. In the book, Newport explores a new philosophy for technology use -- one where you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected activities which bring you both utility and joy.

Jim Mone/AP

Two more candidates have officially announced their intention to take on President Trump in 2020, with many more dipping their toes into the candidacy waters. 

Courtesy of Chad Shook

A western Iowa principal recently returned home from Puerto Rico where he spent a week helping to rebuild a school affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Julian Garrett
John Pemble / IPR

Senate Republicans advanced a proposal out of a committee Monday that would change the make-up of the judicial nominating commissions that recommend potential judges to the governor.

The bill would allow the governor and statehouse leaders from the same political party to appoint three-fourths of the members of each commission, and statehouse leaders from the other party would appoint the remaining fourth.

Jimmy Emerson/flickr

The Iowa House of Representatives passed a K-12 education package Monday evening that increases funding to public schools by nearly $90 million for the school year starting in the fall.

The first measure House lawmakers considered offered a 2.06 percent increase to per-student funding.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

The first major changes to the Iowa Democratic caucuses were proposed Monday. Iowans who take part in the first-in-the-nation presidential nominating process would be able to do so virtually if the proposal is approved by a central party committee and the Democratic National Committee.

Iowa Democrats have had to physically attend the caucuses to declare their choices since 1972. Critics have said the process excludes people who can’t attend because of work or disability. State party leaders unveiled plans for next year to allow Democrats to use a phone to participate.

Salman Javed

William Shakespeare has been dead for over 400 years, but we still turn to his words and his work for wisdom and inspiration, particularly when it comes to matters of love. 

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with James Anthony, who rewrote every one of Shakespeare’s sonnets following the rules of rhyme and iambic pentameter, but using modern, accessible language. His collection is titled, “Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Retold: Classic Love Poems with a Modern Twist.”

dion gillard / flickr

Very few people actually like going to the dentist, but oral health is an essential part of our overall health. We also live in a culture that values good teeth and beautiful smiles, and new technologies are making some of the things dentists and orthodontists have always done a lot easier and faster.

Woodleywonderworks/Flickr

 

 

The Governor has made K-12 education a priority, and Iowa lawmakers are at work crafting proposals at the Statehouse.

During this hour of River to River, hosts Ben Kieffer and Katarina Sostaric are joined by Democratic ranking member of the House Education Committee Rep. Ras Smith, and Republican chair of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink. They talk about proposed changes to K-12 education base funding as brought forward by the Iowa House and Senate.

 

courtesy DMARC

Beginning this week, agencies that help get food to hungry Iowans are expanding their services.

The Des Moines area’s DMARC Mobile Food Pantry will add four more stops to its schedule, which will provide a healthy, three-day supply of food to some people who haven’t been able to get it from other food pantry locations.

Luke Elzinga, DMARC’s communications manager, says the additional stops mean the mobile pantry will reach more of the people the agency knows are in need.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana is a relatively unknown Democratic presidential candidate and worked to remedy his lack of name recognition this weekend with a trip to Iowa. Pete Buttigieg made several stops in Ames and Des Moines. At a house in Johnston, he said the president’s administration pits business against things like healthcare and childcare.

John Pemble / IPR File Photo

State lawmakers are expected to vote on K-12 public education funding this week. It’s less than Governor Kim Reynolds requested, but it’s more than the last couple of years. This bill gives a 2.06 percent increase in base funding, or about $79 million. Morning Edition Host Clay Masters checked in with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric. Here’s what to know about education funding and other issues going on at the capitol.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Growing up poor in Mississippi, Cedric Burnside didn't have running water.

It's a fact he highlights in the first song on his Grammy-nominated album, Benton County Relic.

In the upbeat, soulful song, titled "We Made It," Burnside croons verses like, "I came from nothing, I done been lower than low" and "Walk 3 miles every day, to have water in the house for another day."

Burnside grew up in his grandfather's house, along with many of his cousins. It wasn't until he was 12 years old that they finally got running water.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

There are a lot of Democrats with presidential ambitions in 2020 and many of them are already making trips to Iowa. This cycle, at least some Democratic candidates are trying hard to win over rural supporters who were largely ignored in 2016.

Ten farmers and small business owners sit around a table at the public library in Perry, Iowa and talk with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. He’s getting their perspective as he mulls whether or not to run for president.

He’s able to partake in farm country small talk like the price of farmland these days.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais

In his new position as President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, Charles Grassley is third in line of presidential succession.

During this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with presidential historian Tim Walch about the constitutional role of President pro tempore, going way back to John Adams, the country’s first president of the Senate.

university of iowa
University of Iowa

A group of college students traveled to the Iowa Capitol Thursday to voice support for a proposal that aims to expand free speech rights on public college campuses.

“As conservatives, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we expected there to be a bias when we went to a public university,” said Jacob Minock, president of the Iowa State University College Republicans. “And we are okay with that. But we are not okay with being silenced. And that is why we are here.”

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