February 21, 2020 - 3:02 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Six of seven Republicans on an Iowa Senate committee have endorsed a plan to require more of the Iowans getting health care benefits through Medicaid to work or volunteer in their community.

Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, is chairman of the Senate Labor Committee.

The bill does have exceptions. The parents of young children and disabled Iowans would not be required to fulfill the requirement, but other adults between the ages of 18 and 64 would have to show state officials they’re working 20 hours a week. Schultz says his constituents want the state’s welfare programs to promote the Iowa work ethic.

Lana Shope of the Iowa Community Action Association says nearly 80 percent of the working-age adults enrolled in Medicaid already have a job — but many have inconsistent work schedules.

 

Statewide Iowa — A bill that would have allowed utilities to charge extra fees to Iowans with solar panels has been changed to simply authorize a study of solar power in the state. The original version passed the Iowa Senate last year, but couldn’t get enough votes in the House. A compromise that has emerged would launch a study within the next seven years of how solar users affect the electric grid. THEN lawmakers could decide whether utilities should be allowed to charge extra fees.

Representative John Forbes has solar panels on the roof of his pharmacy in Urbandale. He says the compromise provides stability for Iowans who’ve installed solar panels on their homes and businesses.

Pork producers were among the critics of last year’s bill that would have let utilities assess new fees to customers with solar panels. The Pork Producers Association argued raising livestock is a low-margin business and the new fees would have wiped out the savings farmers were getting from using solar energy.

Photo from KIWA Image Archives

Statewide Iowa — Republicans on a Senate committee have voted to place new limits in medical malpractice cases that involve the death of a patient. A bill that cleared a Senate committee this week would set 750-thousand dollars as the new cap on so-called “non-economic” damages that a family, children or spouses could receive.

Senator Zach Whiting, a Republican from Spirit Lake, says these are the kind of intangible losses that are commonly referred to as “pain and suffering.”

Critics say the bill is unfair to families who’ve lost a loved one due to a medical mistake. Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, voted against the bill in committee.

In 2017, the Republican-led Iowa legislature enacted a 250-thousand dollar limit for emotional pain and suffering damage awards when health care providers are found liable for medical negligence. However, that “cap” or limit does not apply if a patient dies.

February 20, 2020 - 4:02 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The 2020 census will begin with a mailing starting in mid-March. Census Bureau spokesperson Maureen Schriner says it’s important that everyone looks for and completes the census form to be counted. Schriner says the census determines our legislative representation and also determines how much money communities get from the federal government.

Schriner says some people are concerned that the information they provide on the completed census forms will be readily available. She says that in information is kept confidential.

She says the information is only released in an aggregate form.

Additional information about the census can be obtained by going on-line at www.2020census.gov.

February 20, 2020 - 3:45 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The more seasonal temperatures we saw earlier this week that gave way to the frigid temperatures of today, will moderate for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

With a high of 36 on Monday, to a below zero low Thursday morning, Meteorologist Lance VandenBoogart tells us what has been causing the wide temperature fluctuations.

He says temperatures for the upcoming weekend will be quite pleasant.

But VandenBogaart says we shouldn’t get too used to the weekend’s mild temperatures.

So I guess the old saying it true: “This is Iowa, if you don’t like the weather just wait a day and it will change.”

February 18, 2020 - 3:19 pm - Posted in News

Le Mars, Iowa — (as reported by the Lyon County News): The Northwest Iowa Bandmasters Association held its jazz band festival for over 50 bands from 33 northwest Iowa schools at Le Mars on Monday.

They were split up into six divisions and started competing at 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The top two high school bands from their division will be selected and will compete in the Iowa Jazz Championships next month.

Here are the results:

Class 1A:
5th place Gehlen Catholic
4th place Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn
3rd place (Wild Card Eligible) Woodbury Central
2nd place Newell-Fonda
1st place Kingsley-Pierson

Class 2A:
5th place Central Lyon
4th place Sibley-Ocheyedan
3rd place (Wild Card Eligible) Sioux Center I
2nd place West Lyon
1st place Okoboji

Class 3A:
5th place Spirit Lake
4th place Spencer
3rd place (Wild Card Eligible) MOC-Floyd Valley I
2nd place Bishop Heelan
1st place Le Mars Community

Class 4A

5th place Sioux City East II
4th place Sioux City West
3rd place (Wild Card Eligible) Storm Lake
2nd place Sioux City East I
1st place Sioux City North I

Story courtesy of our news partner, the Lyon County News newspaper in George, Iowa.

February 18, 2020 - 1:13 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — A small group of Iowa House members and hunting enthusiasts are debating whether to increase the number of licenses for out-of-state deer hunters. Under current law, six-thousand deer hunting licenses are available for residents of OTHER states.

Representative Dean Fisher, a Republican from Montour, says expanding deer hunting opportunities would be good for Iowa’s economy.

Fisher’s on a House subcommittee that’s embracing the idea of offering 15-hundred more deer hunting licenses to out-of-staters, and setting aside 500 of those licenses for hunters who’ve signed up with an Iowa-based hunting guide. The Iowa Bow Hunters Association opposes the move. Bob Haney is president of the group.

Eric Goranson, a lobbyist for the Iowa Bow Hunters Association, says Iowa hunters should be the priority, and it’s getting harder and harder for Iowans who live in urban areas to find places to hunt.

Jim Obradovich, a lobbyist for the Iowa Conservation Alliance, says other hunting-related proposals under consideration could complicate the system even more.

There’s a deadline this week for all of these kinds of policy discussions. Most bills must be endorsed by a House or Senate committee by this Friday to stay eligible for consideration.

February 17, 2020 - 3:12 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — This area’s Congressman, Steve King was in Sheldon on Monday. We had a chance to catch up with him.

He tells us the purpose of the trip.

Among the topics discussed at the meeting was ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard. King says the President signed an agreement in September to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol. But he says when the rule was published, it was too vague. He says some have pushed for a new rule, but he says that’s hard to do.

He says he’s going to finish that up and double-check the language, ask others to sign on and have the President sign it.

Another area that farmers are concerned about is trade.

King says with the UK exiting the EU, it would be a good idea for both the US and the UK to enter into a trade agreement with each other. He says it may open up European markets for the US.

King says he believes part of the reason we haven’t seen the effect we expected from the US-China agreement is that China’s economy is experiencing a slowdown due to the Coronavirus. Meanwhile, he says we need to remain vigilant to keep Chinese pork out of the US, due to African Swine Fever, which he says has decimated a large part, possibly a majority of the hogs in that nation. He told us about one instance of an attempt to smuggle Chinese pork into the US that he saw with his own eyes.

King was asked what could be done about the shortage of workers in the dairy industry, and if there could be a change in visa policy. King’s suggestion is that those who come into the country on a temporary visa should have to put up a bond. He said it would work similarly to when you swipe your card at the beginning of a hotel stay. They keep your number on file in case they need it. The same would apply here — the account wouldn’t be charged unless you overstay your visa — then the money would be put into a fund to assist law enforcement to find those that have overstayed their visas.

He also mentioned that before we have major immigration reform, he thinks we need to close the border. Also, King says that there are millions of people in the US who are able-bodied, but who are not working. He says these people could fill the open positions at the dairy farms and elsewhere.

King also mentioned that he believes the health insurance business needs to be regulated not from the federal level, but from the state level. He says he hopes that the Supreme Court will rule that the last remnants of ObamaCare are unconstitutional.

February 16, 2020 - 6:22 am - Posted in News

Osceola County, Iowa — Two people were injured in a single-vehicle rollover accident on Highway 60 near the Minnesota border Saturday morning.

The accident happened at approximately 9:00 Saturday morning (February 15th). According to Osceola County authorities a 1993 Toyota SR5, driven by 31-year-old Anibal Gonzalez Sebastian, was traveling south on Highway 60 and lost traction as it attempted to maneuver the slight right-hand curve. Deputies say the vehicle then entered the median, rolling over, ending up on the passenger side, partially covering the inside northbound lane of Highway 60.

Two juvenile females were transported to the Osceola Regional Health Center as a result of the crash.

According to the report, Gonzalez Sebastian was cited for Failure to Maintain Control and No Valid Driver’s License.

Damage to the Toyota was estimated at approximately $5,000.

The Sibley and Bigelow Fire Departments assisted at the scene.

February 15, 2020 - 4:03 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says having President Trump tout his prescription drug bill during the State of the Union speech has been a boost. Now, Grassley’s hoping to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and this is his message:

Grassley, a Republican, and the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee have been working on legislation that would limit prescription drug price hikes to the rate of inflation. The bill would lower out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare, too.

Bills need just 51 votes to pass the senate, but at least 60 senators must agree to allow debate. Grassley says he’s telling his Republican colleagues in the Senate the polls show voters consider prescription drug costs a top concern.

A dozen Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of Grassley’s bill.