Laws and Policy

Stephen Cummings / Flickr

2012 was another big year for news in Iowa.  The headlines ranged from pink slime and spaceships, to the presidential election and financial scandal.  Ben Kieffer counts down the top 10 news stories of the past year, plus some honorable mentions.

Barack Obama / Flickr

How is Barak Obama represented in popular culture? Ben Kieffer talks with two University of Iowa graduate students who’ve written a book about the 44th President as a lens through which we can see not only politics, but also art and music.Then, Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa with the latest political analysis of the Connecticut school shooting and fiscal cliff negotiations.

Mark Davitt / Flickr

Michigan is now a so-called right-to-work state, signing into law a bill that prevents unions from requiring employees to pay dues, even in unionized workplaces. It’s being called a political defeat for unions. Will the effects ripple into Iowa?

Ben Kieffer and guests examine the state of Iowa’s unions. Ben talks with leaders of three of the state’s unions, a labor historian, and a state lawmaker.

Dey / Flickr account

After this year’s November election, where voters in Colorado and Washington voted to make marijuana legal for recreational use, people in Iowa are proposing similar legislation.Two bills will be proposed in the Iowa legislature, one on making medical marijuana legal in the state, and one decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of the substance.

Ames Historical Society website

In 1971, a highway crew uncovered the bones of 28 people: Twenty-six were Caucasian. These remains were moved and reburied. Two were Native American. Their bones were sent to the Office of the State Archeologist.

Shannon Miller

The manager at an Iowa Egg Farm implicated in a national salmonella outbreak will admit he tried to bribe a federal official to sign off on unsafe eggs.

In 2010 a salmonella scare spread across the country—500 million eggs were recalled and 2,000 people fell sick.

Now a federal prosecutor says the manager of the farm the bacterial outbreak was traced back to—Tony Wasmund—has agreed to plead guilty to attempting to bribe a public official. Wasmund apparently offered $300 to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to let eggs that didn’t pass muster go to market.

Controversial voter ID laws across the country are getting a lot of attention. Here in Iowa, voter rules approved by Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz are also falling under scrutiny. The new rules could keep some of Iowa’s Latinos home on Election Day. That concern was brought up before a state rulemaking panel at the capitol Tuesday. 

Shannon Miller

It’s been two years since a salmonella outbreak was traced back to several Iowa farms—including Centrum Valley Farms. As Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports, another strain of the deadly bacteria has re-appeared on that same farm.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

Plenty of young aspiring lawyers dream of landing at a high-powered big-city firm after graduating. So an internship in a sleepy, rural town might not sound like a dream summer job. But that’s just what three law schools in Iowa and Nebraska are encouraging their students to consider.

And with new grads facing one of the worst job markets in decades, some say working in smaller towns is looking better.

The Iowa legislative session ended in May but many of the new laws took effect earlier this week. To begin the hour, we listen back to a conversation IPR’s Joyce Russell had with Senate Majority Leader Democrat Mike Gronstal and House Assistant Majority Leader Republican Steve Lukan. Speaking soon after the legislature adjourned, they talk about the accomplishments of the session, what didn’t get passed, and what legislative issues might be on tap for next year. Then, host Ben Kieffer talks with guests about other new laws including changes in liquor regulations and rules of the road.

One of the key issues that have yet to be resolved in the Iowa legislature this session is education reform.  The House and Senate have passed dueling plans and the Governor says the Senate’s version is “watered down.”  Join host Ben Kieffer as he’s joined by Governor Terry Branstad.  We’ll ask him about education reform and about the debate over finely textured lean beef – or what critics are calling “pink slime.”  Later, Ben talks with Elizabeth Wentzel, who after raising five children decided to chase her life-long dream to travel to a far away land to work and support others less fortun

A Man and a Truck

Feb 10, 2010
Gold Star Museum

Camp Dodge has one of the last, operating, Liberty trucks in the country. One story linked to the rare vehicle details one of the Iowa National Guard’s most difficult missions, enforcing martial law. Note: The new Gold Star Museum is now open for visitors.

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