Statewide Iowa — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate president pro tempore and Senate Finance Committee Chairman, has released a statement regarding House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) announcement that she will soon transmit articles of impeachment to the United States Senate.

“Speaker Pelosi threw the United States Congress into unnecessary chaos with this pointless delay. From the beginning, it’s been unclear what the goal of this hurry-up-and-wait tactic was or what the country stood to gain. We now know the answer was nothing. We’ve had three needless weeks of uncertainty and confusion, causing even more division.”

“After House Democrats delayed passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement for nearly a year, the speaker’s indecision on impeachment will now keep the trade deal from being ratified for even longer. Farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and all American workers will pay the price.”

“Regardless, I will take my role as a juror seriously and review the evidence presented by both sides before making any determination.”

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Utilities Board has issued its final decision and order about Alliant Energy’s request to increase Iowa retail customer electric rates.

On March 1, 2019, Alliant filed with the IUB an application seeking an increase in electric rates and requesting a permanent annual revenue increase of approximately $203.6 million. On October 3, 2019, a non-unanimous partial settlement among many of the parties involved was filed, which reduced the annual revenue increase to $127 million and a return on equity to 9.5 percent.

The IUB’s final decision and order approves the non-unanimous partial settlement agreement and resolves other contested issues in the case. The order:

· Approves a refund of $7.5 million for customers who paid interim rates;

· Increases the monthly customer charge from $11.50 to $13 for residential customers and from $19 to $20 for the general service customers;

· Sets a monthly fee of $4.06 for customers who opt out of having an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meter but does not allow Alliant to charge a fee to customers who choose a reduced-pulse meter;

· Approves a renewable energy rider (RER) as a line item on customers’ bills to recover costs of wind projects known as New Wind I and II, which will go into service in 2020. Alliant indicated that the rider will delay the need to file a rate increase request in 2021; and

· Establishes a regulatory principle that the return on equity on interim rates cannot be higher than the return on equity for proposed final rates.

The Board decision says Alliant has not efficiently managed its relationships with its customers. The Board requires Alliant to file a comprehensive improvement plan within 90 days and review its own internal processes, identify opportunities for improvement, and correct deficiencies as they become apparent.

As part of the proceedings in the electric rate case, the Iowa Utilities Board received more than 5,600 written public comments and in the spring of 2019 held 10 public customer comment meetings throughout Alliant’s Iowa service territory.

The board stated that many customer comments revealed concerns with Alliant’s management practices. The decision also requires the company to file an improvement plan and review its internal processes.

The Iowa Utilities Board says rate changes will take effect upon the board’s review and approval of the compliance tariffs.

January 9, 2020 - 12:04 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — A traffic stop near Sibley during the wee hours of Wednesday morning has led to the arrests of a Spencer couple on felony narcotics charges.

Court records indicate that an Osceola County Deputy stopped a Chevy pickup near Sibley on Highway 59 a few minutes past two a.m. Wednesday. The pickup’s driver, 29-year-old Shaun Arispe of Spencer, was allegedly found to be driving with a suspended license. Upon further investigation, authorities say Arispe, and his passenger, 29-year-old Heather Kruger of Spencer, were allegedly found to be in possession of methamphetamine.

Arispe was arrested and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, a Class D Felony. The charge was enhanced to a felony due to Arispe’s four previous possession convictions, which came in Buena Vista County in 2009 and 2010, O’Brien County in 2016, and in Sioux County in 2016.

Court records indicate that Kruger has a trio of prior drug possession convictions, including one in Osceola County in May, 2018, another in O’Brien County in August, 2018, and in Clay County on April 27th of last year, causing the new charge to be enhanced to a Felony..

Both Arispe and Kruger were transported to the Osceola County Jail in Sibley, where they were held in lieu of a $5,000 bond each.

 

January 8, 2020 - 1:01 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — January is National Blood Donor Month, and the Siouxland Community Blood Bank is in need of donations.

Ken Versteeg is the Executive Director of the Siouxland Community Blood Bank, the organization that is the sole supplier of blood and blood products to our area hospitals. He says they’ve been seeing a decrease in donations.

He cites some of the reasons for the recent decline in blood donations.

Versteeg says some blood types are in particularly short supply.

He tells us there are some requirements for donating blood.

If you’d like more information, or to see where the Siouxland Community Bloodbank Bloodmobile will be accepting donations, visit cbblifeblood.org.

Versteeg says that while they’re seeing a drop in donations, the demand for blood is still there.

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — Governor Kim Reynolds says all pending applications from Iowans with felony records who’re seeking restoration of their voting rights will be reviewed before the Iowa Caucuses.

Iowa is the only state that still bans all people with felony convictions from voting unless they appeal directly to the governor.

The Iowa Department of Corrections has just begun giving qualified inmates a nearly-complete voting rights application when they’re released from prison. The governor says that will eliminate the background check Department of Public Safety staff have had to do.

Reynolds is again this year asking legislators to craft a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore felon voting rights during the legislative session that starts next week. Reynolds made her comments Tuesday during a statehouse forum organized by the Associated Press.

January 7, 2020 - 1:33 pm - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says “this day is years in the making” as the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs, took up the US Mexico Canada Agreement Tuesday morning.

Exactly how soon is the big question, however, as Senate Leader Mitch McConnell will have to schedule the U-S-M-C-A vote around what Grassley calls the “very wild card” of the impeachment of President Trump.

In his decades in office, Grassley says he’s worked on at least 20 major trade agreements, but U-S-M-C-A is unique.

The agreement needs to pass both chambers of Congress. The House ratified U-S-M-C-A in December, the same week it passed the two articles of impeachment.

January 7, 2020 - 11:53 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Iowa is the only state that still bans all people with felony convictions from voting unless they appeal to the governor, but voting rights advocates say some paroled inmates mistakenly think they’re not allowed to vote when they’ve been convicted of lesser crimes.

Campaign Legal Center attorney Blair Bowie is urging Governor Kim Reynolds to issue an executive order and automatically restore felon voting rights, while continuing to push for a constitutional amendment to make the change permanent.

A year ago, Republican Governor Kim Reynolds asked legislators to start the lengthy process of trying to amend the state constitution to automatically restore felon voting rights, but the proposal stalled in the Republican-led Iowa Senate. The Reynolds administration has simplified the application process for felons seeking restoration of their voting rights, but there’s now a three-to-four-month wait as a handful of state employees check the applications for accuracy. Ashley Caldwell is with Restore Your Vote Iowa, a group that’s helping felons with the paperwork.

Iowa Public Radio recently spoke with Travis Fugere, who applied in November to have his voting rights restored.

A 2008 drug conviction landed Fugere in prison for a little less than two years. He’s now the manager of a central Iowa fast food restaurant and leading a recovery group at his church after being sober for 12 years.

Fugere says he’s just waiting now to see if he can participate in the Iowa Caucuses, which are less than a month away.

January 6, 2020 - 12:35 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — You still have weeks before you need to file your federal tax returns, but an IRS spokesman says now is the time to be sure you have all the paperwork ready.

Chris Miller says organize the 2019 tax documents you already have and add to them as the other year end information comes in.

He says it’s also a good idea to get a copy of your 2018 income tax filing as you may need it to filed this year.

Miller says by having everything together, you will know what you have and don’t have for tax filing. Another suggestion for the start of 2020 is that you be sure your withholding from you paycheck is correct. Miller says if you get a bigger refund than expected, or got back less than expected, it’s a sign your withholding is not right.

He says you can check it online.

He says you may have been happy with the withholding last year, but have had things happen in your life that impact your tax status.

Miller says you can go to the IRS website and use the withholding tool to see if those life changes require a withholding change.

January 6, 2020 - 12:23 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — A Creighton University survey shows Iowa’s economy improved slightly during December, as did economic conditions in the nine-state Midwestern region.

Creighton economist Ernie Goss says the boosts were very modest, but both the state and the region strengthened from below growth-neutral in November to just above that mid-point in December.

Thanks, in part, to the year-end holidays, hiring across the region improved dramatically from November to December. Goss says business leaders and supply managers were asked what they anticipated would be the biggest problem in the year ahead.

Iowa Workforce Development says the state’s unemployment rate in November was two-point-six percent, one of the lowest in the nation, while the U-S jobless rate was three-point-five percent.

For all of 2019, Iowa’s overall economy ranked seventh in economic performance among the nine Midwestern states. Goss predicts for the first half of 2020, Iowa will improve to sixth.

Sheldon, Iowa — It is with great regret that KIWA Radio announces that our January 23rd 4th District Republican Candidates Forum has been cancelled.

Each of the five candidates seeking the Republican nomination were invited to take part in the forum, which was scheduled for the Crossroads Pavilion Event Center in Sheldon. The candidates, and their campaigns, were given a date by which they needed to confirm, in writing, that they would be taking part in the forum. Sadly, less than fifty-percent of the candidates responded by the deadline.

KIWA had envisioned the 4th District Republican Congressional Candidates Forum as an opportunity for voters in northwest Iowa to see the candidates, and contrast and compare their individual messages and positions, hopefully allowing area voters the opportunity to make a more informed decision before casting their ballot in the primary election later this year.

After much discussion and deliberation, we have come to the conclusion that holding a forum in which less than half the announced candidates are willing to participate, would be a disservice to northwest Iowa voters.

So, it is with deep regret we feel we must cancel the January 23rd forum.