February 13, 2020 - 3:09 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — There’s disagreement among Republicans at the statehouse over how many state tax dollars to forward to Iowa’s public schools for the next academic year. Republicans in the Iowa Senate favor a two-point-one percent increase in per pupil spending. Senator Amy Sinclair is a Republican from Allerton.

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and Republicans in the House favor slightly more, a two-and-a-half percent increase. Representative Cecil Dolecheck of Mount Ayr and the other Republicans in the House voted for the higher number earlier this week.

Democrats, who are in the minority in the legislature, argued the state can afford to spend more on schools, and should do so. Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, says the state’s facing a crisis in public education.

Senator Julian Garrett, a Republican from Indianola, says more money isn’t always the answer.

Senator Eric Giddens, a Democrat from Waterloo, says more than a third of Iowa school districts will get LESS money from the state next year because their enrollment is shrinking.

Representative Ras Smith, a Democrat from Waterloo, says Iowa schools are falling behind.

Iowa school districts must certify their spending plans for the next academic year by April 15th, so this state funding decision is key for local decision makers, Iowa school boards and school administrators.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — A delegation of midwest soybean producers is back in the state after a trip to Bangladesh and Pakistan promoting the commodity.

Iowa Soybean Association spokesman, Aaron Putze, says the two countries have great potential.

Putze says midwest soybeans can help up the quality in their food market.

Putze says the delegation learned Iowa’s soybeans and other crops from America have the edge in quality — but another factor is also an issue.

Putze believes meeting the representatives in the other countries can help them in the long term.

Putze says overall the he feels the trip was a positive one.

Statewide Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds is holding town hall meetings around the state to build support for her “Invest in Iowa Act.” The plan would raise the state sales tax, lower other taxes and dedicate more money for water quality initiatives and the state’s mental health system.

Details were released in bill form last week. Reynolds held a news conference Wednesday with representatives of groups that were involved in the negotiations that developed the plan.

Representative John Wills of Spirit Lake, the third-ranking Republican in the Iowa House, calls the plan “bold” — but he says it may not stay intact as it works its way through the legislature.

Reynolds began her road trip Wednesday, holding afternoon meetings in Oskaloosa and Ottumwa to meet with Iowans in those southeast Iowa communities about the plan.

February 13, 2020 - 12:43 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price says he’s resigning so the party can have a “fresh start.”

The results of the 2020 Iowa Democratic Party Caucuses are still not final. On Sunday, party officials will begin a re-canvas of 143 precincts and satellite caucuses at the request of the Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg campaigns, to check the accuracy of results. On Saturday, the Iowa Democratic Party’s governing board will meet to elect Price’s replacement.

Last week, Price told reporters he intended to stay on as chair until the Caucus counting had reached its conclusion. But now he says staying on became untenable.

In the wake of Price’s resignation, State Representative Mark Smith is the first to announce he’s running to be the next chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party. Smith says his background gives him the ability to step in and help restore confidence to his party.

Smith announced in September he would not seek reelection to a tenth term in the Iowa House. Smith served as Democratic Leader for five and a half years, leading the effort to recruit and raise money for legislative candidates. Smith says if he’s chosen as chairman, he does not plan to resign his seat in the legislature and will serve out the remaining 10 months of his term in the House.

Rock Valley, Iowa — Iowa Medicaid is not reimbursing disability providers at an appropriate rate, and that’s causing an employment issue. That’s the opinion of Hope Haven CEO Matt Buley.

Buley tells us he recently went to Des Moines to talk with legislators about the issue.

He tells us why that’s a difficult situation.

According to Buley, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds put a line item in her budget to address this issue, and that’s more than has been done before. But he says the amount proposed is an order of magnitude too small. The governor suggested $3.3 million. He says it should be more like $30 million. He says 75 percent of any increase would go directly to direct support professional wages.

Buley says he knows that the low unemployment rate, while it is a positive, effects every employer. But he says the situation is much worse in this case.

He tells us that in the last three years, awareness of the issue at the statehouse has improved, and legislators seem like they want to make this a priority this year.

Photo caption: From left: Rep. Skyler Wheeler (Orange City), Matt Buley, and Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake)

February 11, 2020 - 4:24 pm - Posted in News

Tea, SD — The project that started in 2004 to bring Missouri River aquifer water to several area communities continues to make progress. The Lewis & Clark Regional Water system has just been informed of federal funding levels for this year, and the news appears positive.

According to Lewis & Clark Executive Director Troy Larson, the Bureau of Reclamation has announced that the system will receive $18 million in federal funding for fiscal year 2020, an increase of $3 million compared to the previous fiscal year.

Larson says, “Thanks to the hard work and strong support of our tristate delegation, Congress approved an additional $117.4 million for the Rural Water Program in the FY20 Budget. Reclamation in turn allocated $17.9 million of this amount to Lewis & Clark. When combined with the $100,000 proposed by the administration it brings our total for fiscal year 2020 to $18 million.”

He tells us the funding will be used to cover a portion of three construction projects — a radial collector well adjacent to the Missouri River near Vermillion that is anticipated to produce 16 million gallons per day, a 2.5 million gallon water tower just east of Beresford, and the 12.6-mile middle segment of 24-inch pipeline between Beresford and Sioux Center.

Looking ahead to the NEXT fiscal year, Larson tells us the administration’s proposed fiscal year 2021 budget was released on Monday. For the third consecutive year, it only includes $100,000 for Lewis & Clark.

According to Larson, “While very disappointing, the proposed funding is not surprising. We will again be counting on our tristate delegation to secure additional funding for the Rural Water Program.”

He tells us that based on recent federal funding levels, which are subject to change, it is anticipated Sioux Center and Hull will be connected in 2022, Sheldon in 2023, Sibley in 2024, and Madison in 2025.

Photo caption: Lewis & Clark pipeline construction east of Beresford

February 11, 2020 - 3:03 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Be prepared for a brief, but somewhat unpleasant trip into the deep freeze weather-wise. And weather officials say we’ll have some falling and blowing snow as well.

Meteorologist Lance VandenBoogart at the National Weather Service’s Sioux Falls office tells us what to expect.

He tells us just how cold it will be.

VandenBoogart tells us the temperature roller coaster won’t spend very long in the valley before it starts up the next hill.

We asked him if students and teachers would have a chance to get a full school day in before the storm arrives. He says it’s hard to tell.

Stay tuned to KIWA and kiwaradio.com for the latest on the weather.

February 11, 2020 - 2:45 pm - Posted in News

Harris, Iowa — A machine shed was destroyed in a fire early on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 near Harris.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, about just before 3:00 a.m., an alert sheriff’s deputy on patrol noticed a machine shed on fire, and radioed dispatch. They paged out the Harris Fire Department to the scene, which was on Walnut Avenue north of Harris.

According to the report, the deputy says the machine shed was fully engulfed and partially-collapsed when he noticed the fire.

No injuries were reported.

The fire department was assisted by the Sibley Ambulance Squad.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

February 11, 2020 - 2:37 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — An Iowa State University extension economist says high-tech farming methods aren’t something most farmers are trying.

Alejandro Plastina says the issue is getting enough payback to make the investment.

He says those costs have held back its widespread use.

Plastina, who specializes in figuring the cost of production for farmers, says GPS tracking and other technology can give farmers a lot of information.

He says farmers that get the data need to know how to use it. Other farmers can benefit by using the old-fashioned data they gather and putting that to use as they prepare for planting.

Plastina says you can find a lot of information to help you make those calculations on the ISU Extension website.

Statewide Iowa — The search is on for Iowa’s Best Burger. The Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association have announced the start of their annual contest to name the state’s best burger.

Nominations for Iowa’s Best Burger will be accepted until March 10th. You can nominate your favorite burger by CLICKING HERE.

The Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association will announce this year’s winning burger on May 1st, to kick off Beef Month.

This year’s Iowa’s Best Burger Contest is the 11th annual event.

Image courtesy of the Iowa Beef Industry Council