2017 Iowa Legislature wraps up historic session

DES MOINES — The Republican-led legislature’s sweeping agenda for 2017 recast Iowa labor laws and rewrote the rules for several kinds of lawsuits. Governor Terry Branstad is expected to approve proposals that More »

Iowa legislature approves broader medical marijuana law

DES MOINES — Early Saturday morning, legislators announced an agreement to expand Iowa’s soon-to-expire law that merely decriminalized possession of cannabis oil for treatment of chronic epilepsy. “There are sick Iowans out More »

Legislators look ahead to 2018 session

DES MOINES — Republican lawmakers who just wrapped up the 2017 legislative session this past weekend already list “tax reform” as their top agenda item for 2018. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer and More »

Monday April 24th Local Sports

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – John Hicks had three hits, including his first career homer, and drove in five runs to lead Michael Fulmer and the Detroit Tigers to a 13-4 victory over the More »

Mason City leaders meet with IEDA about River City Renaissance project (AUDIO)

DES MOINES — The Board of Directors for the Iowa Economic Development Authority gave a favorable review Friday to the River City Renaissance redevelopment project that’s a part of the Iowa Reinvestment Act More »

Friday April 21st Local Sports

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Trevor Bauer struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings and Carlos Santana had two doubles and two RBIs to lead the Cleveland Indians over the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on More »

State to be updated on Mason City downtown redevelopment project Friday

MASON CITY — Mason City leaders will be heading to Des Moines tomorrow to update the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Board of Directors on the River City Renaissance redevelopment project that’s a More »

2017 Iowa Legislature wraps up historic session

DES MOINES — The Republican-led legislature’s sweeping agenda for 2017 recast Iowa labor laws and rewrote the rules for several kinds of lawsuits. Governor Terry Branstad is expected to approve proposals that reshape abortion policy as well.

“I think it’s been a very productive session,” Branstad told reporters Thursday. “We’ve addressed a lot of important policy issues and I think it’s going to have a long-standing benefit for the people.”

The House and Senate took final votes on key bills after sunrise on Saturday, including a bill that would expand Iowa’s soon-to-expire medical marijuana law. The House and Senate both adjourned at about a quarter after seven.

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake, the legislature’s top-ranking Republican, said Republicans seized the opportunity to act.

Iowa legislature approves broader medical marijuana law

DES MOINES — Early Saturday morning, legislators announced an agreement to expand Iowa’s soon-to-expire law that merely decriminalized possession of cannabis oil for treatment of chronic epilepsy.

“There are sick Iowans out there who need relief,” Representative Jarad Klein, a Republican from Keota, told reporters during a news conference on the House floor at around 3 a.m.

Klein has been the point person in House negotiations on the bill.

“I ran the original bill on the floor that got this to the kids that have intractable epilepsy. I have a constituent that suffers from that and I’ve heard the positive results,” Klein said. “That just reassured me of taking the next step.”

Legislators look ahead to 2018 session

DES MOINES — Republican lawmakers who just wrapped up the 2017 legislative session this past weekend already list “tax reform” as their top agenda item for 2018. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer and other Republicans say they’re not ruling anything out at this point.

“Put it all on the table, sort it all out and see where we can land,” Upmeyer told reporters Friday. “But, hopefully, we’ll end up with a simpler system that makes us competitive.”

Water quality effort fizzles in legislature’s final hours

DES MOINES — One of the high-profile failures of the 2017 legislative session is a bill that would set up a new spending strategy for water quality projects. The House and Senate could not agree on an approach for financing the plan.

Republican Senators favored relying on gambling taxes. Republicans and many Democrats in the House endorsed the idea of redirecting state sales tax revenue that’s currently reserved for school infrastructure. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, said there were “common themes” in the two bills.

Iowa Public Information Board survives legislative session

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – After being threatened with elimination, a state board that handles public transparency questions will emerge from the Iowa legislative session with a small funding increase.

Iowa lawmakers had planned to scrap funding for the Iowa Public Information Board, but in the waning days of the Legislature, they decided the nine-member volunteer board actually saved the state more money than it cost.

Regents start search for next ISU president

COUNCIL BLUFFS — The Board of Regents announced the names of the 21-person Iowa State University Presidential Search late last week. The committee is will chose the finalists for the next president to replace Steven Leath who is leaving to take the same position at Auburn. Regents executive director, Robert Donley, told the board at its meeting in Council Bluffs that they are finalizing the selection of a search firm to help the committee.

Opponents say Trump proposal undermines Social Security

DES MOINES — More than 600-thousand Iowans receive Social Security benefits, and a proposal to change the way the program is funded is being attacked as a sneaky way of undermining it. The Trump administration is floating what’s being described as a trial balloon – to end the separate payroll taxes dedicated to Social Security and replace them with general revenue or a consumption tax, similar to a sales tax. But Nancy Altman with the group “Social Security Works” says those payroll deductions function like insurance premiums – you have to pay in to get benefits. She says stopping those would be the first step to cutting benefits.

Powerball celebrates 25th anniversary

DES MOINES — Saturday night’s Powerball drawing fell on the same date that the very first drawing in the lottery game was held 25 years ago. Powerball was launched during this week in 1992 in Iowa and 14 other states. Iowa Lottery spokesperson Mary Neubauer says a lot has changed with the game in 25 years.

Monday April 24th Local Sports

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – John Hicks had three hits, including his first career homer, and drove in five runs to lead Michael Fulmer and the Detroit Tigers to a 13-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

One day after the benches cleared when Tigers starter Matthew Boyd threw behind slugger Miguel Sano in retaliation for teammate JaCoby Jones being hit in the face, there was no sign of lingering hard feelings.

Mason City leaders meet with IEDA about River City Renaissance project (AUDIO)

DES MOINES — The Board of Directors for the Iowa Economic Development Authority gave a favorable review Friday to the River City Renaissance redevelopment project that’s a part of the Iowa Reinvestment Act program. The board has pre-approved about $7 million in state funding to help leverage a $36 million project that includes redeveloping the western part of Southbridge Mall into a multi-purpose center that includes an ice arena, as well as a hotel and a music pavilion.

GOP lawmakers axing program for art in state buildings

DES MOINES — Republicans in the legislature are getting rid of a requirement that art be installed in new state buildings. Senator Charles Schneider of West Des Moines said it’s not because he and other Republicans are against art.

“When I talk to taxpayers and they know what tough times we’re going through, I hear complaints about things like public art at rest areas…about public art at a hog farm,” Schneider said. “Taxpayers expect us to use their dollars better.”

Regents president attends last meeting

COUNCIL BLUFFS — Outgoing Board of Regents president Bruce Rastetter attended his last meeting today in Council Bluffs.

“It has certainly been an interesting six years and perspective of the public institutions and what the board has that I have really grown to appreciate,” Rastetter says.

Rastetter, who is a businessman from Alden, decided not to apply for another term on the board. He told the board they need to keep active in running the three state-supported universities.

Forest City man charged with mail fraud, wire fraud

FOREST CITY — A Forest City man who has already been sentenced to over a year in prison for failing to pay employment taxes now is facing additional federal fraud charges. The US Attorney’s Office has charged 61-year-old Darell Smith with mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Smith was the president and general partner of Energae, an investment partnership located in Clear Lake which was a minority investor in Permeate Refining LLC, an ethanol production company based in Hopkington.

Former US Attorney joining private law firm

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) – A top federal prosecutor from Iowa asked to resign by President Trump last month is joining a Cedar Rapids law firm.

Kevin Techau, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, will join Scheldrup Blades law firm in Cedar Rapids as a shareholder and leader of its government compliance and internal investigations team.

Friday April 21st Local Sports

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Trevor Bauer struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings and Carlos Santana had two doubles and two RBIs to lead the Cleveland Indians over the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Thursday.

Bauer (1-2) gave up two runs, three hits and three walks, lowering his ERA from 8.44 to 6.35. Andrew Miller pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief and the Indians took all three games in a series that included a rainout Wednesday night.

State to be updated on Mason City downtown redevelopment project Friday

MASON CITY — Mason City leaders will be heading to Des Moines tomorrow to update the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Board of Directors on the River City Renaissance redevelopment project that’s a part of the Iowa Reinvestment Act program. The board has pre-approved about $7 million in state funding to help leverage a $36 million project that includes redeveloping the western part of Southbridge Mall into a multi-purpose center that includes an ice arena, as well as a hotel and a music pavilion. The major change in that plan has been the hotel.

Legislature passing budget bills, adjournment could be near

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Legislature has approved most bills needed to finalize the roughly $7.2 billion state budget, an indication that adjournment is near for the session.

The Republican-controlled chambers have voted in support of several budget bills over the span of days that address spending on everything from education to economic development. Lawmakers are scheduled back at the Capitol on Thursday, though it’s unclear what day they will finish work.

Budget bill would eliminate ISU ag research center

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A budget bill that would eliminate a longtime research center at Iowa State University is headed to Gov. Terry Branstad.

The Republican-controlled Legislature approved an agriculture-related budget bill this week that eliminates the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture by July 1. Remaining activities within the 30-year-old center would be administered by the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Ban on video monitoring of public restrooms clears legislature

DES MOINES — Video monitoring in public restrooms and locker rooms is likely to be outlawed soon in Iowa.

The Iowa legislature has sent the governor a bill that forbids the practice in public libraries, public schools and other government buildings.

Representative Greg Heartsill of Columbia says in this instance, privacy rights outweigh public safety concerns.

King toasts Border Patrol over deportation

SAN DIEGO (AP) – Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King is toasting the deportation of a man whose attorneys say is the first known person who qualifies for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to be removed from the country by President Donald Trump.

Juan Manuel Montes has sued the federal government over his deportation to Mexico. The 23-year-old says he’s entitled to stay in the U.S. under DACA, which shields people who came to the country as young children.

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