Lawmakers Still Battling Over School Funding

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As lawmakers struggle to resolve the state budget, a new conflict has sprung up about how much new money to give schools in the 2016-2017 school year. The Appropriations Committee in the Republican-led House on Wednesday approved a plan that would provide about $125 million in new dollars in that year, with some of the money going to a teacher leadership program. But Democrats say the funding level is inadequate. Republicans had previously supported spending more money, but Rep. Chuck Soderberg, a Republican from Le Mars, said they didn’t want to “overcommit and under-deliver.” The Republican-controlled House and Democratic-majority Senate are still at odds over how much new money to provide in the upcoming school year, with Democrats wanting to offer more than Republicans. Continue Reading

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Fireworks Bill Passes Iowa House

It would be legal to sell and set off fireworks in Iowa if a bill that cleared the Iowa House Wednesday becomes law. Representative John Wills, a Republican from Spirit Lake, was among the 53 House members who voted “yes.” “We need to have people understand that what they do and how they do it is their responsibility,” Wills said. “This bill gives freedom back to the people and I’m in favor.” Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, was among the 43 who voted “no.” Continue Reading

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West Burlington Sells Old Public Works Lots

The five lots that the City of West Burlington created out of the space formerly occupied by the City’s old public works building have been sold. Five bidders competed for the five lots, however, only three bidders walked away with a piece of land. With minimum bids set at $20,000, lots sold between $21,185 and $27,356. Lot one was sold to Valerie and Benjamin Franklin, Lot two sold to Brian Wooldridge. BK Land, LLC, purchased lots four, five, and six. Continue Reading

Des Moines County Supervisors to Consider Funding Effort Against Des Moines City Water Works Suit

The Des Moines County Board of Supervisors has been asked to contribute $5,000 a year to the legal team fighting a lawsuit from City of Des Moines Water Works against Drainage districts in Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties. Des Moines Water Works filed the suit in February, alleging that nitrate runoff from farms in those counties were polluting the Raccoon River with increased nitrate levels. The lawsuit has statewide implications for farmers, drainage districts, and County Boards of Supervisors alike, threatening a costly regulatory burden on those counties and farmers. “The, suit, while filed against a small number of districts will, if successful, be applicable to all districts in Iowa, and in other states,” said Des Moines County Supervisor Tom Broeker, reading the correspondence sent by the Iowa Drainage District Association during a Tuesday meeting. The Board of Supervisors will meet with Des Moines County Drainage District Officials to get further insight on how the lawsuit would affect them at a later meeting. Continue Reading

Egg Prices Climb 58% as Four More Bird Flu Cases Identified

The number of cases of bird flu in the state has hit 60.The state Ag Department announced four more probable cases Tuesday, three in Sioux County and one in Buena Vista County. The Buena Vista County case involves 24-thousand turkeys, and is the 16th case there. One of the cases in Sioux County includes an estimated 150-thousand laying hens, while another facility contains an estimated 100-thousand pullets, which are the birds that grow into laying hens. The third new case in Sioux County involves 15 chickens in a backyard flock. It is the 17th case in the county. Continue Reading

Cody Bailey. Courtesy: Henry County Jail

Burlington Man Arrested in Mount Pleasant on Felony Theft, Drug Charges

Mount Pleasant Police have arrested a Burlington man on drug and theft charges following an investigation into a series of thefts from the Mount Pleasant Wal-Mart store. 30 year old Cody James Bailey was arrested by Mount Pleasant Police at around 6:20 pm on Monday. Bailey had been previously identified by police as a suspect in recent thefts at the Mount Pleasant Wal-Mart store dating back to early April, where Bailey was allegedly seen taking high end televisions and computers from the store. Police say that Bailey was spotted by police driving through town and was arrested when he stopped at a Mount Pleasant home. When searching his vehicle, police discovered several bags of methamphetamine in the car along with a drug pipe. Continue Reading

Amid Controversy, Iowa Law Enforcement Academy Head Announces Retirement

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy is stepping aside after facing opposition to his appointment from state senators. Arlen Ciechanowski has informed Gov. Terry Branstad that he’s retiring June 30. Branstad appointed the longtime instructor as academy director in 2011. Ciechanowski faced criticism over how he handled an investigation that found that his assistant director, Michael Quinn, mistreated female employees and cadets. Ciechanowski disciplined Quinn but let him keep his job after learning Quinn made inappropriate workplace comments. Continue Reading

Burnt Pizza Crust Causes Evacuation at Iowa Capitol

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Weeks after burned macaroni and cheese emptied out the Iowa Capitol, a charred pizza crust has done it again. The crust burned Tuesday morning in the Capitol cafeteria, prompting a brief evacuation. Department of Administrative Services Spokesman Caleb Hunter says property was not damaged and no one was injured. The Iowa Legislature is still in session, but many members were not at the Capitol on Tuesday. About three weeks ago, the Capitol was evacuated when someone burned a macaroni and cheese lunch in a microwave behind the Senate chambers. Continue Reading

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Donnellson Police Chief Arrested on Domestic Assault Charges

Lee County Correctional Center Officials have confirmed that the head of the Donnellson Police Department has been arrested on domestic assault charges. William “B.J.” Sackett was arrested by Lee County Sheriff’s Deputies on Monday Afternoon. Lee County Sheriff Jim Sholl says that the alleged domestic violence occured on Sunday morning at around 3:30 am. The violence was reported by Sackett’s wife, who showed visible marks of abuse. Sackett was released on bond following an initial appearance in front of a judge. Continue Reading