IPR News Stories

Pat Blank /IPR

As the spring planting season hits full speed, state public safety officials are asking motorists to check their own speed as they approach over-sized farm equipment on the road.

Iowa Highway Patrol Sgt. Nate Ludwig said traditional cars and trucks are no match for the agricultural machinery, which often weighs several tons. He said attempting to get around them could be dangerous.

Hornick resident Dale Ronfeldt's garage in water in March 2019. A reporter joked with him that he had "lakefront property" and Ronfeldt joked, "you want to buy some?"
Katie Peikes / IPR file

As Iowans apply for federal assistance to help reclaim their flooded homes and businesses, FEMA is hiring temporary workers to help sort through their applications. The disaster agency plans to hire around 60 people to process paperwork and inspect damaged property, among other jobs.

How Small Town Business Owners In One Iowa Town Are Banding Together

18 hours ago
Emily Carey/IowaWatch

A small group of businesses in one southern Iowa town has found a way to stay open by banding together to attract spending customers to town, rather than compete against each other.

“Why not Humeston?” Leigh Ann Coffey, owner of Sweet Southern Sass, said when asked why business owners choose to open a business in a small town.

dustin hite
John Pemble / IPR

Republican lawmakers at the Iowa Capitol sent a bill to the governor early Thursday they say will make local property taxes more transparent, despite concerns raised by Democrats that this would hurt the state’s public pension fund and trample on local control.

The bill requires cities and counties to inform residents that when property values increase overall, local officials could lower the property tax rate if they planned to spend the same amount of money on public services as the previous year.

As grassland and prairies gave way to farmland in the Midwest, habitats for some native birds disappeared. There’s a relatively new program in central Illinois looking to restore wetlands for migrating birds and help farmers at the same time.

The program to help them is limited but is secure for now. However, the future for both the bird and the program could be on shakier ground in just a few years.

Iowa’s Small Towns Struggle To Gain Traction And Grow

19 hours ago
Emily Carey/IowaWatch

The town of Humeston, Iowa, straddles Highway 65 in the northwestern corner of Wayne County, less than a 30-minute drive from the Missouri border. Its population peaked in the 1920s at 1,214 people.

Today, the southern Iowa town has only 494 people.

“A lot of kids, when they graduate, they want to get out and see the world,” David Dotts, of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors, said. It’s one of the many explanations for the population loss.

Katie Peikes / IPR

In the community of Hamburg in southwest Iowa, people continue returning to their homes and businesses to assess the damage from last month’s widespread flooding.

Clay Masters / IPR file

Iowa is spending a fraction of what should be budgeted toward improving water quality, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Iowa Policy Project. The group argues state lawmakers should raise taxes in order to put more money toward solutions, but that doesn’t appear to be under consideration just yet.

Environmental Working Group / Iowa Public Radio

A survey of state data shows thousands of private wells in Iowa have been contaminated with nitrates and coliform bacteria. Under state law, most of Iowa’s private wells don’t have to be tested, and don’t have to meet water quality standards, leaving the residents who rely on them especially vulnerable.

Housing Woes Emphasized During Iowa Flood Board Meeting

Apr 24, 2019
O. Kay Henderson

The need for housing was the primary concern raised today during the first meeting of the governor’s Flood Recovery Advisory Board. Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state is waiting for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to a request for temporary housing trailers.

“Over 25,000 homes have been demolished or have had some kind of damage and over 4200 businesses and my guess is that’s probably still on the short side of the numbers that we’re going to see as we move through the process,” Reynolds said.

GOP Lawmakers Develop Spending Plan For UI, ISU, UNI

Apr 24, 2019
Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University

Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate have developed a spending plan for Iowa’s three public universities that’s less than what Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed for next year.

Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, said the plan still provides a spending increase.

“We knew that we couldn’t fund everything to the ask of what everybody wanted, but yet we wanted to be fair and offer them something that could be sustainable in our budget,” Kraayenbrink said.

tom miller
Joyce Russell/IPR file

This post was updated Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 6:10 p.m. 

Republicans in the Iowa Legislature voted this week to limit the Democratic attorney general’s authority to pursue out-of-state lawsuits because he joined legal challenges of Trump administration policies.

Wikimedia Commons / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Tree,_Iowa#/media/File:Lone_Tree,_Iowa.JPG

The mayor of a small city in eastern Iowa wants to do away with his own position as it exists now. The elected leader of Lone Tree wants the community to hire a city manager, and let the council choose a mayor.

andy mckean
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The longest-serving Republican in the Iowa Legislature announced Tuesday he is switching to the Democratic Party, citing increasing discomfort with Republicans’ stance on many high-profile issues and his unwillingness to support President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR file

Updated Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 10:50 a.m.

Iowans 21 and over could soon legally place bets on professional and college sports under a bill that lawmakers sent to the governor Monday evening.

Andrew Seaman via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/inthe-arena/24289742612/

A new childcare center opening in Keokuk this week will eventually offer space to 110 children. Advocates say the program is a needed step in addressing what they call a chronic shortage

Amy Mayer / IPR file

The latest version of Iowa’s ag gag law is headed to court, just like its predecessor. The ACLU of Iowa and other groups are suing the state, arguing that the law violates the free speech of journalists and animal rights advocates by making it a crime to go undercover on the farm.

Under the new law, an individual who lies in order to gain access to a farm or agricultural facility with the intention of physically or economically harming the business can be charged with trespassing.

Jeff Sigmund / IowaWatch

Several Iowa school districts have taken on debt the last 17 years, with one district owing as much as $35,448 per student, to handle student enrollment increases but also repairs to aging buildings.

Iowa capitol
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa Senate has sent a bill to the house that would legalize sports betting in the state. Morning Edition host Clay Masters talks with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about the bill as well as other issues like Republican lawmakers trying to restrict Attorney General Tom Miller's ability to join national lawsuits.

A home near Pacific Junction, Iowa, is surrounded by water on April 12, 2018.
Katie Peikes / IPR file

FEMA wants to hear from Iowans who were forced to move out of flooded homes to find out if they plan to apply for federal aid. The agency offers financial assistance to renters and grants to homeowners to make their properties safe to live in again. Low interest loans are also available from the Small Business Association.

John Pemble / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds invited Republicans to a press conference to announce the creation of a Flood Recovery Advisory Board.  She says it will help decide what to do and how to use funds from the federal and state level. The governor is asking legislators to make $15 million available from fiscal year 2019’s ending balance go to the flood mitigation fund.  She’s also asking for $10 million in the next fiscal year for the Workforce Housing Tax Credits to accelerate housing improvements in flooded areas.

In a recent national survey, farmers said the biggest threat to their livelihoods wasn’t low commodity prices or global trade policies. It was the rising cost of health insurance.

It’s one of the reasons why state farm bureaus have jumped into the insurance game in Iowa, Tennessee and Nebraska, and are trying to in Kansas.

Amy Mayer / IPR file photo

Iowa’s senior senator met with the U.S. secretary of energy this week to better understand details around how small oil refineries secure waivers exempting them from the national biofuels law.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Rick Perry clarified for him that the Department of Energy can offer input, but it’s the Environmental Protection Agency that grants the waivers. Grassley said E.P.A. Administrator Andrew Wheeler is not obligated to do what the energy department recommends.

Grant Gerlock/IPR

Many Democratic presidential candidates have offered their reaction to Thursday’s release with redactions of the Mueller report investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election. 

Campaigning in Des Moines, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said she feels the special counsel should testify before Congress.

“The most important thing is that Bob Mueller come before Congress so that we can get to the bottom of why there’s this difference between his interpretation of the law and the Attorney General of the United States,” Klobuchar said.

O. Kay Henderson / Radio Iowa

A proposal meant to limit property tax growth advanced at the Iowa Capitol Thursday with the support of Republicans on a Senate committee.

Katie Peikes / IPR

A new sober living home will soon open in Sioux City to help men struggling with addiction who may be homeless.

Amy Mayer / IPR file photo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recently released 2017 Census of Agriculture data show the amount of land in the largest federal conservation programs has decreased nationwide and in many Midwest and Plains states.

But that doesn’t mean farmers are ignoring soil health, nutrient runoff or erosion problems.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

More than 200 people attended a Senate committee hearing in southwest Iowa Wednesday, where U.S. senators and people who live near the Missouri River wanted answers on what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can do better to manage the Missouri River Basin in the future so drastic flooding does not happen again.

Lawmakers Seek New Protections For Iowa Mobile Home Park Residents

Apr 17, 2019
John Pemble/IPR file

Two eastern Iowa Democrats say they’re looking for Republican allies in the legislature to give the residents in mobile home parks more rights.

A Utah-based company recently purchased five mobile home parks in Iowa, giving some residents 60 days’ notice of sizable rent increases. Don Lund has lived in Gulf View Trailer Court in North Liberty since 1997. The rent on his lot will go from $285 to $450 a month.

provided by Dawson Davenport

A Meskwaki artist is working to open an indigenous art gallery and event space in Iowa City. Multidisciplinary artist and writer Dawson Davenport wants to magnify the voices of other Native American creators.