Des Moines, Iowa — It appears Iowa legislators will return to the Capitol next week to make final decisions on the state budget.

The Senate’s budget committee met in public and in private for seven hours Wednesday to pass ten budget bills. Republican Senator Tom Costello of Imogene is leading negotiations with House Republicans on the bill that will provide funding for the state’s human services and public health agencies.

Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City says she and her fellow Democrats are in the dark when it comes to details in the health and human services budget.

Senator Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, is raising the same concerns about the budget for the state’s court system.

Republican Senator Tim Kraayenbrink of Fort Dodge is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He says the marathon one-day meeting to review state budget plans was necessary.

Republicans hold the majority of seats in the House and the Senate, so they determine what bills pass. Governor Reynolds and GOP leaders say details of the entire eight-point-two BILLION dollar state budget should be hammered out soon. The governor continues to lobby for House passage of her state scholarship plan for private school students. Reynolds has begun endorsing Republican Primary candidates running against Republican House members who’ve said they oppose it.

Statewide Iowa — The statewide average cost of gasoline rose several more pennies a gallon to set another record Wednesday, but the travel forecast for Memorial Day weekend calls for it to be the busiest in years.

Meredith Mitts, spokeswoman for Triple-A-Iowa, says despite the high price to fill the tank, people are ready to get out of the house and down the road.

The motor club says the statewide average for gas is now $4.15 a gallon, the highest price Iowans have ever paid to fuel up, however, it won’t foil many of our vacation plans.

Besides the high price at the pump, some Iowans are turned off by having to wear masks. While many airlines have eliminated the mask requirement, it would be wise to still pack plenty of them in your carry-on bag.

Triple-A projects Memorial Day weekend will be the busiest in three years. Reservations for flights, hotels and cruises for Memorial Day weekend are twice as strong as last year’s holiday. While Iowa’s average gas price is $4.15 a gallon, the national average is $4.56, versus the country’s most expensive gas in California at $6.05. In Sheldon, as of Thursday morning, gas was $4.09 a gallon, that’s up a dime from the beginning of this week.

Sibley, Iowa — When severe weather threatens, you need to stay “weather aware.”

That’s from National Weather Service Meteorologist-In-Charge Todd Heitkamp, who also tells us people should have more than one way of receiving weather warnings. We talked to Osceola County Emergency Management Director Dan Bechler, who tells us that people are relying too much on outdoor warning sirens.

He says, in the past, you may have been able to rely on hearing tornado sirens indoors, but people can’t depend on that anymore.

But Bechler tells us that while you may not be able to hear the sirens indoors anymore, there are several other ways to get warnings.

He says it’s very easy to sign up. For Osceola County warnings, all you have to do is text “osceolaia” to 67283. You can also find more information about AlertIowa at

Of course, we here at KIWA are also a great source of live, up-to-date weather information during severe weather. Just tune to 105.3 FM. We’ll tell you about the watches and warnings and the current radar picture to keep you informed during severe weather.

Incidentally, more and more communities are blowing their tornado sirens during other very hazardous weather such as the recent “haboob,” derechos, and other severe straight-line wind events.

May 18, 2022 - 10:15 am - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — Legislation that aims to set up a grant program so police departments can get access to training and equipment will go before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week. That panel’s ranking Republican, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, says he’s a co-sponsor of the Invest to Protect Act which is being introduced during National Police Week.

The bill is designed to ensure police get needed training as well as access to body cameras and mental health resources. In the past few years, Grassley says police recruitment numbers have faltered.

Crime rates rose in recent years, Grassley says, with some cities reporting that carjackings have tripled. Also, there’s been a rising sentiment in some populations to oppose the police, which Grassley says is a menacing trend.

The judiciary committee on Thursday will also consider a measure Grassley co-sponsored called the Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act. It would set up mental health programs for America’s first responders, who often face long-term impacts from offering life-saving services during moments of crisis.

Northwest Iowa — This Wednesday is the first day that Iowa county auditors’ offices can send out absentee ballots for the June 7th Primary Election. It’s also the first day you can vote in person at the auditor’s office, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

However, they tell us that the last day to turn in an absentee ballot request by mail is less than a week away — Monday, May 23rd. People have been able to send in their absentee ballot request forms since March, but this Wednesday is the first day they can actually be sent out.

However, you can vote in person at the auditor’s office from this Wednesday until the day before the election, Monday, June 6th.

Lyon County Auditor Jen Smit says that in her county, at least, there is a pretty short turn-around time from when they receive the absentee ballot request until they send it out. She says they have a backlog of about 60 requests, but they should be able to take care of all of those in one day, and after that, they will send out ballots within 24 hours of receiving a request during weekdays, with a slightly longer delay due to the weekend if the request is received on Friday.

Absentee ballots can be requested for anyone in person if you have the form that they filled out and signed. But no ballots can leave the auditors’ offices by any other method than by mail. As far as returning the voted ballots, you can also do that in person at the auditor’s office if that’s more convenient for you. No matter how they get to the auditor’s office, they must be received by the end of the business day on election day.

Just a reminder — the election on June 7th is a PRIMARY election, the purpose of which is to select candidates for the political parties for the November General Election. As such, voters will need to choose a party when they request their ballot.

Also, if you vote on your absentee ballot but neglect to turn it in until election day, you have a choice. You can either deliver it in person to the auditor’s office, or you can surrender your absentee ballot at the poll, and vote on a regular ballot.

Statewide Iowa — It won’t likely make Iowans feel any better about paying more than four bucks a gallon for gasoline, but those record high prices aren’t really so high, nor are they records, according to one expert.

Herman Quirmbach, a retired economics professor at Iowa State University, says this week’s gasoline prices are indeed more expensive than the previous highest-ever prices dating back to July of 2008, but he says it’s not apples to apples.

Triple-A-Iowa says the statewide average for gas Friday was four-13 a gallon. Earlier this week, the high prices wiped out the previous high price from 2008 of four-02 a gallon. In today’s dollars, Quirmbach says that four-02 would actually be more like five-28 a gallon.

Quirmbach, a state senator from Ames and a Democrat, says multiple factors go into the price of gas, even though it’s often reduced to being a political football.

He agrees with a statement issued by a Triple-A spokesman this week which said, “There are very few things that a president can do to help lower the cost of oil, and this administration tried to do pretty much everything that it can.” In a Radio Iowa interview on Tuesday, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, placed the blame of high gas prices on the Democrat in the White House, saying: “I think Congress has set a pretty good policy for energy. This president has screwed it up.”

May 14, 2022 - 9:47 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — May is Beef Month and consumers have a variety of choices when purchasing beef at the grocery store.

According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Beef Specialist Beth Doran, the beef industry offers something for everyone in terms of culinary options.

Beef producers, packers, and retailers consistently try to provide beef products that meet consumer preferences, according to Doran.  She says currently there are products with specific genetics, animal management protocols, carcass characteristics, and ease of preparation, and sometimes, a combination of these.

USDA certifies some beef products according to the genetic makeup of the animal (haircoat color and markings) and carcass characteristics (such as marbling). For instance, some labels might include the name of the breed such as Angus, Hereford, or Wagyu.

There is also a wide variety of beef products relating to how the animals are raised. Common categories include grain-finished, grass-fed, certified organic, and never-ever (no antibiotics or hormones). USDA approves these labels for beef based on specific criteria. Just new to this category is Low Carbon Beef LLC – a USDA process verified provider for beef produced with reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Doran, another popular label is ‘natural,’ which is more difficult to define because this label is defined and regulated by the company owning the brand.

USDA’s definition of “natural” is a food product with minimal processing, no artificial ingredients, and no preservatives. However, the USDA definition does not specify specific management practices during the life of the animal.

USDA does have specific standards for the quality grade of carcasses that are based upon the amount of marbling. Marbling is the small flecks of fat interspersed within the lean muscle and relates to the tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of the beef. Common quality grades at retail include Prime, Choice, and Select.

According to Doran, all quality grades are nutritious but may require different methods of cooking to achieve the same eating satisfaction.

In addition to nutrition, today there are forms of beef that save time in preparation, cooking and cleanup.

Statewide Iowa — With school letting out soon, thousands of Iowa teenagers are starting to apply for their first-ever summer jobs and they may need to be aware of some common scams.

Consumer advocate Michael Domke says one con that’s been making the rounds is to have a new employee cash a check and then pay back some of the money.

Teens of various ages are only allowed to work a certain number of hours per week, so new workers will need to know those rules and make sure they’re not being asked to work too much. Mystery shopping might sound like an ideal job for some Iowa teens, but Domke says you need to do a little research first.

Domke says no legitimate job will require you to pay to sign up or to apply for a position.

Northwest Iowa — Power outages, along with trees blown over and damage to at least one hog confinement were all part of the thunderstorm that blew through northwest Iowa Wednesday afternoon.

Winds that gusted to nearly 50-miles per hour blew the roof off a hog confinement near Rock Valley, according to Sioux County EMA Director Nate Huizenga. He says that was the only major damage of which he is aware.

Power bumps and blackouts were reported across the area as the storm rumbled through. In Sheldon, there were a few short-lived power bumps, but power never went completely out. In Orange City, residents tell us the lights went out for about 5 minutes, while in other areas the power outages lasted considerably longer.

According to a MidAmerican Energy spokesperson, a possible tornado south of Rock Valley took out 27 of their electric transmission structures, which resulted in damage to five substations, and plunged some 3800 customers in the Rock Valley, Inwood, Alcester and Hudson areas into darkness. The outage occurred at about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, with power restored by abut 6:00 pm, according to MidAmerican.

In Rock Rapids, the strong winds blew over a tree, which landed on a parked car. Fortunately, the car was unoccupied at the time and there were no injuries.

The storm brought much-needed rain to the area, but the amount varied greatly, by location. In Sibley, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports 1.65-inches of rain, while 0.8-inches fell in Rock Rapids and 0.78-inches in George. Unofficially, Orange City saw about 0.7-inches of rain. In Sheldon, only 0.21-inches found it’s way into the KIWA rain gauge.


May 12, 2022 - 1:02 pm - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — Both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators, as expected, joined with their Republican colleagues in defeating the bill Democrats sponsored to guarantee access to abortion nationwide.

Senator Chuck Grassley spoke during debate of the bill.

Senator Joni Ernst did not speak during debate. The Washington Post has reported Ernst will introduce a bill in the Senate to ban abortions after the sixth week of a pregnancy. Grassley has said in interviews with Iowa reporters he will not comment on a nationwide ban until after the U.S. Supreme Court issues its final ruling. During remarks on the Senate floor, this is how Grassley described his approach to the issue.

Grassley said the bill Democrats were offering would invalidate current state laws that regulate abortions.

The U.S. Senate is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats and the outcome of Wednesday’s vote was expected, since there weren’t 60 senators willing to allow a vote on the bill. Abby Finkenauer, one of the Democrats running for a chance to face Grassley in the November election, says Wednesday’s vote shows why Democrats need to win more seats in the U.S. Senate. Mike Franken, who is also competing for the Iowa Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate nomination, says Grassley has consistently voted to take rights away from women.