IPR News Stories

As the first in the nation voting state, Iowa is where all presidential candidates begin - and many end - their campaign to the White House. Join IPR reporters Clay Masters and Kate Payne as they delve into Iowa's role in shaping the nominating field - from Iowa's caucus history to the candidates, the moments and people that shape the 2020 presidential cycle. 

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John Pemble / IPR file

State lawmakers are behind schedule when it comes to passing funding for K-12 education. Republican leaders in the Iowa House and Senate still have not come to an agreement on how to reconcile their competing proposals.

jeff edler
John Pemble / IPR

Cities and counties would not be allowed to ban housing voucher discrimination under a bill that advanced in an Iowa Senate committee Thursday.

Federal housing assistance in the form of a voucher allows low-income families to choose a place to live. The federal government covers part of the cost of rent. A local public housing agency administers the funding and enters into a contract with the landlord in addition to the tenant’s lease. The landlord is responsible for maintaining certain health and safety standards.

Sen. Jeff Edler, R-State Center, proposed the bill.

Courtesy: Linn County Attorney's Office

The defense team for Jerry Lynn Burns rested its case Thursday, posing questions about whether key DNA evidence is simply circumstantial. The 66-year-old Manchester, Iowa man faces a first degree murder charge in the 1979 killing of Cedar Rapids high schooler Michelle Martinko, who was found stabbed to death in her family’s Buick in the parking lot of the Westdale Mall.

Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District Facebook page

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it's "confident" that repairs done to federal levees along the Missouri River in southwest Iowa will make them ready to defend against the spring 2020 flood season. But even with repairs made, the levees are not quite what they used to be.

iowa capitol
John Pemble / IPR file

A House panel tabled a bill Wednesday that would ban Iowa health care providers from trying to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

House State Government Committee Chair Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said people on both sides of the issue raised too many concerns about his proposal to advance it ahead of this week’s legislative deadline. 

Linn County Jail via AP

Prosecutors in the trial of Jerry Lynn Burns rested their case Wednesday. Burns is suspected of killing high schooler Michelle Martinko in Cedar Rapids in 1979 and he faces a first degree murder charge.

mobile home press conference
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A key Republican lawmaker said Wednesday he will not advance a bipartisan bill to strengthen protections for mobile home residents ahead of a legislative deadline.

The proposal from Republicans and Democrats came in response to out-of-state companies buying some Iowa mobile home parks and significantly raising rent. It would allow rent increases tied to inflation, with exceptions. 

house committee
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republicans on an Iowa Senate panel advanced a bill Tuesday that would add requirements around providing an ultrasound before an abortion, and that requires a three-day waiting period between the ultrasound and the abortion.

There is already a 72-hour waiting period under Iowa law, but the Iowa Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional in 2018 and blocked it from taking effect.

Courtesy: Linn County Attorney's Office

Jurors in the case of a man accused of killing 18-year-old Michelle Martinko in Cedar Rapids in 1979 heard from the suspect himself Tuesday. Prosecutors played a covertly recorded interview that investigators conducted with Jerry Lynn Burns in December of 2018. A jailhouse informant also testified in the case Tuesday.

State senators Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig (left), and Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, listen to testimony about a proposal to require work for some Medicaid recipients.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Updated Thursday, February 20: The Labor and Business Relations Committee advanced a Medicaid work requirements bill (SSB 3158) Thursday, making it eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate.

Most Iowans on Medicaid are employed at least part-time and the proposal lists exemptions for many others including people caring for a disabled relative. Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, said he supports the plan even if it impacts a relatively small number of people.

Courtesy: Cedar Rapids Police

A witness testified in Davenport Monday that DNA from the suspect in a 40-year-old murder case is “consistent” with DNA found on the dress the victim was wearing when she died. The testimony from a forensic DNA analyst came in the case of Jerry Lynn Burns, who faces a first degree murder charge for the killing of Michelle Martinko in Cedar Rapids in 1979.

Kate Payne/IPR file

A bipartisan proposal to give mobile home residents more rights and protections advanced in the Iowa House Monday.

Restricting rent increases, mandating 180 days’ notice before raising rent, and requiring good cause to evict tenants are just some of the provisions in the lengthy bill. Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate crafted it together after an out-of-state company bought some Iowa mobile home parks in 2019 and started phasing in steep rent increases.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

An Iowa House subcommittee has passed a bill that would allow college athletes to earn money from endorsement deals, despite concerns raised by university groups that it would add to a growing patchwork of state laws.

Michael Zamora / The Des Moines Register via AP, Pool

Multiple child abuse reports to the Department of Human Services were mishandled leading up to the death of West Des Moines teenager Natalie Finn, according to a report released Monday by the state government ombudsman's office.

Clay Masters / IPR

The Iowa Democratic Party has elected an interim chair following Troy Price’s resignation. Mark Smith of Marshalltown, a 10-term state representative, was voted as the party’s new interim leader on Saturday.

John Pemble / IPR

One of the first legislative debates of the year is over school state aid. Forty-three percent of the state’s budget goes to K-12 public education. This year the Senate and House are at odds over how much to increase funding. A bill in the House Education subcommittee has advanced that would require K-12 schools to notify parents if sexual orientation or gender identity are part of curriculum or school instruction of any kind. Parents would have the option of excusing the student from participating. And compensating college athletes for the use of their likeness would no longer be prohibited under a bill from a Senate subcommitte


subcommittee
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republican lawmakers on a House panel advanced a bill Thursday that would require abortion providers to inform patients that it “may be possible to reverse” a medication abortion, though there isn’t enough reliable scientific evidence to support the practice, and some evidence suggests it could cause harm.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

The National Weather Service projects an above-normal risk of flooding this spring in the Missouri and Mississippi River basins, which include western and eastern Iowa, according to a spring flood outlook released Thursday.

John Pemble/IPR

The Iowa Senate passed a resolution Thursday that would amend the state constitution to say it does not protect abortion rights.

John Pemble / IPR file

Republicans in the Iowa Senate are advancing a religious freedom bill that opponents say would weaken civil rights protections. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SF 508) would raise the legal threshold to enforce a state or local law when a person says it violates their faith.

Kyle Sleichter / KCRG

Bruce Aune, a trusted news anchor at KCRG, the ABC affiliate in Eastern Iowa, is retiring this March.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe welcomes Aune for a discussion of some of the most memorable moments in his 34 years in the anchor chair and some of the changes he’s witnessed.

Guest:

Bruce Aune, anchor, reporter

Courtesy: Cedar Rapids Police

Jurors heard opening arguments at the Scott County Courthouse Wednesday in the case of a man accused of killing a Cedar Rapids high school student more than forty years ago. Jerry Lynn Burns faces a first degree murder charge in the 1979 killing of 18 year old Michelle Martinko, a killing that stunned Cedar Rapids residents and has been seared into the memories of some for decades.

The long-idle cold case was revived in recent years when investigators turned to newly-developed techniques for DNA analysis. That forty-year old evidence now forms the foundation of the case against Burns.

Troy Price, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, addresses reporters in Des Moines to explain the delay in releasing the initial results of the 2020 Iowa Caucus.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price has announced he will resign from his post. The announcement Wednesday comes in the wake of a historic caucus night fiasco, in which the party’s results reporting system was hamstrung by a series of critical failures. Results in the first-in-nation contest were delayed for days, and were riddled with errors when they were ultimately released, renewing calls for the state to lose its privileged status in the presidential nominating contest.

Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, listens to testimony at a subcommittee considering a constitutional amendment raising the threshold for passing an income tax increase.
John Pemble / IPR

Law enforcement agencies would be required to collect information on offenses committed by immigrants who aren’t U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents under a bill advanced Tuesday in the Iowa Senate. 

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR file

This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday she can't comment on a lawsuit brought by former staff of the troubled state-run Glenwood Resource Center for severely disabled residents.

Katie Peikes / IPR

The longest-serving president of a western Iowa college announced Tuesday that he plans to retire next year. 

MedPharm's Aliviar branded medical cannabis products were on display at the MedPharm manufacturing facility in Des Moines Wednesday, October 17, 2018.
Katarina Sostaric / IPR file

A bill that advanced Tuesday in the Iowa House of Representatives would expand some parts of Iowa’s medical cannabis program, but disagreement remains about the amount of THC, the chemical that can make cannabis users high, patients should be allowed to purchase.

Natalie Krebs / IPR File

There are still no official results out of the Iowa Democratic caucuses as of Tuesday, even as New Hampshire voters go to the polls for that state’s first-in-the-nation primary. Even without finalized results, presidential campaigns and politicos are turning their attention away from Iowa. 

dawson and bisignano
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Republicans on an Iowa Senate panel advanced a bill Monday to exclude some Iowans with felony convictions from automatic voting rights restoration if a proposed constitutional amendment to expand felon voting rights passes.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

An Iowa House subcommittee passed a bill (HSB 615) Monday that would prohibit local ordinances from being stricter than state law for gun accessories such as high capacity magazines.

The wide-ranging proposal also states that if local governments ban weapons at public buildings, they must also provide screening and armed security.

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