February 22, 2019 - 2:19 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — Abortion opponents rallied at the statehouse Thursday in support of new efforts to ban abortion in Iowa.

Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds announced this week she had determined there was no way to successfully appeal a district court ruling that nullified a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The governor told the group she and other Republicans who were elected in November now aim to change the judges making the decisions.

Reynolds touted GOP plans to change who appoints half the members of a commission that nominates Iowa judges and justices for the Iowa Supreme Court. Republican Representative Sandy Salmon of Janesville, another speaker at the rally, amplified that message.

Senators convened a hearing right after the rally on a proposal that would grant citizenship rights at the moment of conception. Another hearing was held in a HOUSE subcommittee on a plan to cut off federal funds for sex ed and pregnancy prevention programs at any organization that performs abortions or refers patients to abortion providers.

February 21, 2019 - 3:00 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — Two Republican senators are advancing a bill that would require every Iowa business, even businesses with just one employee, to use the federal E-verify system to check the citizenship status of prospective workers.

Businesses caught “knowingly” employing an “unauthorized alien” would lose any license or permit to operate in the state. Republican Senator Julian Garrett of Indianola patterned the proposal after an Arizona law.

Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, says it’s time for states to act because the federal government isn’t.

The Iowa Chamber Alliance, representing the 16 largest chambers of commerce and economic development groups in Iowa, opposes the bill. John Stineman, the group’s executive director, says the E-Verify system is “wildly inaccurate.”

Senator Garrett responded.

Dave Stitz, a vice president at the McAninch Corporation, says his construction firm has used the E-Verify system voluntarily for 12 years for all prospective employees.

Stitz told lawmakers he’d gladly hire “non-U-S citizens.”

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry raised concerns the bill might prompt a statewide hiring freeze if businesses can’t check the E-Verify system because of another federal government shutdown.

February 21, 2019 - 1:37 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — We’ve barely finished digging out from this week’s snowstorm, and the National Weather Service tells us there’s more of the white stuff on its way.

Jeff Chapman is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Sioux Falls, and he says the next winter storm to visit the area is a two-part system.

Chapman says the first part of the system should have a limited impact on northwest Iowa.

However, he says the National Weather Service is keeping a close eye on the second part of the system.

At this point, the National Weather Service is forecasting three to four inches of new snow this weekend, but Chapman says regardless how much new snow this system drops, blowing and drifting WILL occur.

Once we get through the weekend the forecast calls for snow Monday and Monday night, with the snow leaving the forecast for Tuesday into mid-week next week.

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — A bill that would have given Iowa parents another way to opt out of vaccinations for their children has failed to advance in the Iowa Senate.

Iowans may now obtain a religious exemption to required immunizations before students may be admitted to public schools or licensed daycares. The bill that failed a Senate subcommittee would have created a philosophical objection to vaccines as well. Pediatrician Dr. Nathan Boonstra says when it’s easier to get an exemption, more people get vaccine-preventable diseases.

Dozens of parents and their children crowded into a committee room in the Iowa capitol to signal their support of a new exemption. Many, including Sonya Swan of West Des Moines, wore stickers for the group Iowans for Informed Consent.

Megan Wisner, another member of Iowans for Informed Consent, says some of her relatives have had allergic reactions to vaccines.

Spencer farmer Randy Heikens, a father of three, says vaccines are unsafe.

Dr. Kate Linkenmeyer of Des Moines responded to that criticism.

Senator Tom Greene, a pharmacist from Burlington, was one of two senators on a three-member committee who defeated the bill.

A second bill related to vaccines was killed by a senate subcommittee Tuesday. The defeated bill would have banned hospitals and other health care providers from firing staff or rejecting patients who haven’t been immunized against infectious diseases.

February 20, 2019 - 3:02 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — With the snowfall we’ve received over the past 24-hours or so, and the snowfall that’s forecast for the weekend, lot of us here in northwest Iowa are going to be doing a lot of shoveling. Physical Therapist Donna Ihnen of Sanford Sheldon has some tips for moving that mountain of white stuff.

Ihnen says the first thing you need to do before shoveling snow is prepare.

Once you’re prepared, she says it’s important to choose the proper shovel for the job.

When you have selected the right shovel, Ihnen says how you grip it is important.

Finally, she says your posture is important to keep from hurting yourself when you shovel.

Ihnen reminds you to life with your knees, and try not to twist your body as you move the snow. And, she says, like any form of exercise, if your body tells you it’s time to take a rest, pay attention and take a rest. Go inside, warm up, and take a drink of water before you return to shoveling. She says it’s best if you shovel for 20-minutes or or less at a time, and then rest for a bit. And if you experience chest pains while you shovel, stop and seek immediate medical attention.

Northwest Iowa — With the snow we’ve received recently, and with more forecast in the next few days, area fire chiefs are asking for your help.

Several area fire chiefs are asking residents and business people to help make sure firefighters don’t have to waste time shoveling snow to gain access to fire hydrants, before fighting a fire.

Between the seven-plus inches of snow that has fallen on the area with this most recent storm, and whatever the coming weekend storm brings us, hydrants may become inaccessible.

Time is of the essence when fighting a fire, and the time firefighters spend digging out a fire hydrant when they could be fighting the fire, could end in tragedy.

Area fire chiefs as that you dig out an area of about three feet around any fire hydrants on your property, as well as a path to the street. They urge you to take a few minutes when you’re clearing snow from your sidewalks and driveway, and clear snow from the fire hydrants, as well. Make it a habit every time it snows. The area’s fire chiefs will thank you for it.

Clay County, Iowa — Three people, including a Hartley man and a Sibley man, were involved in a personal injury traffic accident Tuesday morning in Clay County.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office says the mishap occurred shortly before 8:00 Tuesday morning on Highway 71 in southern Clay County, in an area known by locals as “Goat Hill.”

According to the report, the crash took place when a 2010 Peterbilt owned by Bosma Poultry of Sibley, and driven by 36-year old Gary Kringen of Sibley, turned southbound onto Highway 71 from 460th Street. Deputies say a 2018 Ford F-150 pickup, driven by 32-year old Mellissa Berkland of Grimes, was southbound on 71 and struck the Kringen semi in the rear. The Berkland Pickup was then struck in the rear by a 2018 Ford Expedition, driven by 59-year old Mark Fredericks of Hartley, which was also southbound.

Clay County authorities describe damage to Kringen’s semi as “minor”, while both Berkland’s pickup and Fredericks’ SUV were totaled in the crash.

Deputies say minor injuries were reported in the collision.

February 19, 2019 - 4:01 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — An energy efficiency plan for the electric utility company that serves Sheldon and other areas of northwest Iowa has been approved by regulators.

A five-year energy efficiency plan filed by MidAmerican Energy Company has been approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, or IUB. The company’s plan, approved for 2019-2023, includes 14 energy efficiency and demand response programs with a proposed total budget of $256 million.

The utilities board says that MidAmerican’s plan as approved contains approximately $709 million in net electric benefits and more than $41 million in net natural gas benefits, projected to cumulatively save 767 million kilowatt-hours and 8.3 million therms. The IUB determined MidAmerican’s plan meets cost-effectiveness testing; includes programs for residential, commercial and industrial customer classes; and projects expenses that fall within budget parameters defined by Iowa Code.

Information from the board says that Iowa law allows customers of rate-regulated utility companies to request an exemption from participating in an energy efficiency plan if a plan does not meet the threshold 1.0 score on a cumulative rate-payer impact test. MidAmerican’s plan score of 1.09 does not trigger that exemption for the utility’s customers.

MidAmerican’s total energy efficiency spending under the plan is approximately $163 million for electric and $33 million for natural gas, or about 2 percent of the company’s expected retail electric revenues and 1.5 percent of the expected retail natural gas revenues during plan years. MidAmerican’s demand response spending under the plan is approximately $60 million.

February 19, 2019 - 3:19 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds has approved legislation providing a nearly 90 million dollar state funding boost to public K-12 schools in Iowa.

One bill increases the state’s per-pupil spending on public schools by just over two percent. In the other bill, per-pupil spending in 170 districts is boosted by five dollars per student, to correct an inequity in the state’s school funding formula. There’s nearly 8 million dollars in that bill as well to increase state spending on school transportation budgets to help rural districts struggling to pay for busing students to and from school.

School boards are required by law to certify the budgets for the next academic year by mid-April. A state law requires the legislature to make the basic decision on school funding by mid-February, but there’s no penalty for missing the deadline. Lawmakers have often been tardy in taking final votes on school spending plans, and school administrators in northwest Iowa have said that they sometimes wish they knew what they had to work with before certifying their budgets.

February 19, 2019 - 2:53 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — Republican Governor Kim Reynolds will not appeal a district court judge’s ruling that struck down the six-week abortion ban she signed into law last year. Reynolds said in a written statement she sees no path for getting the case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republican Senator Jake Chapman of Adel says given recent rulings on abortion from the IOWA Supreme Court, that’s a prudent choice.

Chapman says this will heighten interest for an amendment to Iowa’s Constitution, stating the document does not protect abortion rights. House Republican Leader Chris Hagenow of Urbandale says banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected was important to GOP lawmakers.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s executive director says having the district court ruling that struck down the six-week abortion ban go unchallenged “is a victory for every Iowan who has ever needed or will need a safe, legal abortion.”