Escaped Emu Evades Police in Western Iowa

CRESCENT, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say they weren’t able to capture an emu they spotted when on patrol in western Iowa. The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office says deputies saw the bird around 9:35 a.m. Thursday in Crescent. They followed the emu to a nearby rock quarry while they waited for its owner to arrive from Honey Creek, but the bird fled toward an area where authorities say they couldn’t follow it. Chief Deputy John Reynolds tells the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil

that officials were in “hot pursuit” of the bird but were unable to get it back to its owner. Authorities believe the emu has been loose for a few days. Continue Reading

Iowa Court: Poor Defendants get Counsel in Misdemeanor Cases

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court says poor defendants have a right to legal representation in simple misdemeanor cases that carry possible jail time. State Appellate Defender Mark Smith says Friday’s ruling will affect people charged with offenses such as shoplifting and public intoxication. He says it’s particularly important for crimes in which potential punishments are enhanced for subsequent offenses. The decision will not affect the majority of simple misdemeanors, such as traffic violations, because they don’t carry jail time. The ruling dismisses a theft conviction against Archaletta Young in Polk County. Continue Reading

police-lights

Iowa House Committee to Examine Civil Forfeiture Abuses

The Government Oversight Committee in the Iowa House is planning to conduct a review of the state’s civil forfeiture laws after a newspaper investigation raised what one lawmaker calls “significant concerns.” A Des Moines Register investigation found law enforcement in Iowa has used civil forfeiture laws to seize 43 MILLION dollars in the past six years — sometimes without ever arresting the person involved or charging them with a crime. Representative Mary Wolfe , a Democrat from Clinton, says the newspaper’s report has sparked posts on her Facebook page. “I wasn’t aware of just quite how grievous the situation was in some counties,” Wolfe says. “I know certainly on my Facebook that’s certainly blown up and people are appalled.” Continue Reading

Survey Shows Iowa Farmland Values have Fallen Since 2014

After many years of increases, a new survey shows the value of Iowa farmland is dropping. The report from the Iowa Realtors Land Institute compared land prices from March 1st of 2014 to March 1st of this year. Institute spokesman Kyle Hansen, of Nevada, says statewide land values fell by an average of 11-percent, though cropland values didn’t drop quite as far. “We actually saw a decrease of 7.6% across the state on all tillable acres,” Hansen says. “We’ve seen anywhere from a 30 to 40% reduction in our commodity prices, our corn and soybeans, over the last 12 to 18 months and that has now definitely influenced the land market.” Continue Reading

Bullying Prevention, Internet Expansion Bills Still Alive in Legislature

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Key issues like bullying prevention and broadband Internet expansion remain alive in the Legislature as a procedural deadline looms, but other measure are likely dead. Lawmakers from the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-majority House lamented the bills that failed to advance Thursday. For Democrats those bills included efforts to provide more leave benefits to parents of adopted children and to increase the minimum wage. Republicans sought changes to bargaining rules for teacher unions and tried to require women to get ultrasounds before having abortions. Under legislative rules, Friday is the deadline for many bills to get full approval from one chamber and committee-level approval in the other chamber. Continue Reading

School Funding Compromise Fails

An attempt at compromise between Iowa Democrats and Republicans over school funding in the state failed last night. In January, Republicans proposed a one-and-a-quarter percent increase in general state aid to public school districts, while Democrats had favored a four percent boost. The ten legislators assigned to resolve the impasse met Wednesday afternoon and Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames made the Democrats’ formal offer of a two-and-five-eighths percent increase, which would be right in the middle. “Schools now need the final answer,” Quirmbach said. “They need to certify their budgets by April 15.” Continue Reading

Governor Signs Bill Protecting Cities from Sledding Claims

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Sledding may be allowed in more public parks next winter under a new law that protects cities from liability if people are injured. Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill into law Wednesday. It won unanimous approval in the state Legislature. The old rules protected cities from liability when people were injured skateboarding or biking on city property but did not include a sledding protection. This law changes the language to provide protection from injuries sustained during “recreational activities,” which means sledding would be covered. Continue Reading

Fire Breaks Out on Farm Owned by Governor Branstad’s Family

FOREST CITY, Iowa (AP) — Forest City authorities say crews spent hours dragging burning bales of cornstalks away from buildings on a farm operated by the governor’s family. Fire Chief Mark Johnson tells the Mason City Globe-Gazette that several hundred round bales of stalks were found burning between two buildings on Branstad Farms on Wednesday morning. The farm is about four miles south of Forest City. It’s operated by Gov. Terry Branstad’s brother and his nephews. Crews let the bales burn out. Continue Reading

Ride-Sharing Legislation Considered

A bill to regulate internet-based ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft is under consideration at the statehouse. Uber drivers have been operating in the metro areas of  Cedar Rapids and Des Moines — using their own cars and ferrying passengers who request a ride using a smart phone app. The City of Des Moines just passed an ordinance to regulate Uber drivers. Pooneet Kant– Uber’s general manager — is pressing legislators for statewide rules. “We just think that having a uniform standard makes more sense,” Kant says. Continue Reading