Iowa Unemployment at Lowest Level in Seven Years

A record number of Iowans were working last month, according to a new report from Iowa Workforce Development. I-W-D spokesman Ed Wallace says the state’s jobless rate in April dropped to 3.8-percent, down from 4-percent in March. “This is the lowest Iowa unemployment rate in 7 years,” Wallace said. The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,647,700 in April. That’s 600 higher than March and 23,700 higher than one year ago. Continue Reading

Legislators Still Trying to Find Common Ground

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Legislative leaders are back in the Iowa Capitol trying to resolve their budget differences so they can adjourn for the year. After the holiday weekend, a handful of lawmakers reported for duty Tuesday. Leaders and some committee chairs were set to continue budget negotiations. The Republican-led House and Democratic-majority Senate must determine an overall spending level and how much new money to provide to K-12 education. Democrats are seeking to spend more than Republicans. Continue Reading

Two More Cases of Bird Flu Suspected, Brings Number of Cases to 66

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State officials say there are two probable cases of bird flu in Adair and Webster counties in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship says initial testing at two commercial laying operations were positive for bird flu. The operations have a combined total of about 1.1 million birds. The agency said Monday if the disease is confirmed, all birds on the properties will be euthanized. It would also mean there are now 66 cases of the disease in Iowa. Continue Reading

Educators Frustrated With Budget Delays

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As budget talks drag on in the state Capitol, educators are growing increasingly frustrated. School funding has been a central point of conflict throughout the legislative session, with the Democratic-led Senate seeking to provide more new dollars than the Republican-controlled House for the 2015-2016 academic year. The two sides are about $50 million apart on funding. Paul Gausman, superintendent of the Sioux City Community School District, says his district removed about 20 instructional assistant jobs from its payroll as it waits for word about additional money. David Benson, superintendent for the Cedar Rapids Community School District, says the impasse has forced his district to keep about 30 teaching jobs on hold. Continue Reading

No Injuries Following Eastern IA Train Derailment

BELLE PLAINE, Iowa (AP) — Officials say no one was injured when 23 cars of a Union Pacific train traveling through the eastern Iowa town of Belle Plaine derailed. Cedar Rapids television station KCRG reports the derailment happened around 11:20 p.m. Friday. A Union Pacific spokesman said the cars were part of a 125-car train being pulled by three locomotives traveling from Nebraska to Illinois. The spokesman says eight of the derailed car were loaded with soda ash, used in household cleaners, windshields and cellphones

Three cars were filled with lumber, another three contained animal feed and four contained flour, diced tomatoes, frozen fish and sodium bicarbonate. The five remaining derailed cars were empty. Continue Reading

Iowa Department of Corrections: Two Inmates Now Listed as ‘Escaped’

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two Iowa inmates have been listed as escaped from state work release facilities. Iowa Corrections Department news releases said Monday that 51-year-old Llewellyn Roberts escaped from the facility in Marshalltown and 26-year-old Eric Livingston from the Waterloo facility. The department says Roberts didn’t return from furlough and was listed as escaped on Sunday. His parole supervision was transferred to work release on April 3 following parole revocation. His five-year sentence for domestic assault in Tama County began on Aug. Continue Reading

Little Tiny Steps Made Toward Resolving State Budget Dilemma

Iowa lawmakers got an extra early start to this Memorial Day weekend. Senators have not met to debate at all this week and most of the 100 members of the Iowa House gathered for just one day to vote on bills. However, legislative leaders have been holding countless private meetings this week with Governor Terry Branstad’s top staff, to try to draft a spending plan for state government operations. Lawmakers face a looming deadline of July 1st. That’s the first day of the next fiscal year and there’s no budget plan in place. Continue Reading

Regent Schools Joining Efforts to Collect Debts

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Three Iowa public universities are joining in efforts to collect more than $15 million in outstanding debts from students and customers that use their services. The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports the University of Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University want to collect outstanding tuition, specialized loans and various other charges. They have issued a joint request for proposals from external agencies to help collect the funds. Officials say no outstanding account will be sent to outside collection agencies until after the school’s internal collection service has offered multiple repayment options to a former student. Continue Reading

Huckabee is Latest Straw Poll No-Show; is Event in Jeopardy?

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The people running Iowa’s Republican presidential straw poll want less money and glitz involved as they try to take this summer’s event back to basics. But now they are facing a different kind of downsizing — fewer candidates. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is the latest 2016 prospect to opt out of the Iowa tradition. He said Thursday he won’t participate in the poll that he placed second in eight years ago. That was the latest bad news for the carnival-like summer event that draws thousands of party activists. Continue Reading