No Serious Injuries in Western Illinois School Bus Accident

EAST MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Officials say no students were seriously injured when a school bus rolled over in icy weather in western Illinois. Illinois State Police say the accident happened about 8:40 a.m. Thursday at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Interstate 88 in East Moline. Police say a small school bus from Geneseo was traveling eastbound on Interstate 80 when it hit an icy spot and rolled. Hospital spokesman Craig Cooper says 11 girls and one adult bus driver were taken to Genesis Medical Center in Silvis. Continue Reading

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It’s Official: Gas Prices to Rise 10 Cents/Gallon on Sunday As Governor Signs Tax Hike

It’s official: gas is going up ten cents a gallon on Sunday. Governor Terry Branstad has approved the bill increasing the state’s gas tax by a dime a gallon. “This is a bill that’s been developed with both the Republicans and Democrats working together,” Branstad says. “I know it’s not easy and I know that there are also people who feel strongly on the other side, but there is a critical need for additional funding for our roads and bridges in the state of Iowa.” Since the beginning of the year Branstad met personally with legislative leaders at least five times to discuss options for dealing with a 215-million dollar shortfall in meeting the critical needs of Iowa’s trnaportation infrastructure. Continue Reading

Speed Limit Could Rise to 75

While the gas tax is going up, the speed limit very well may be going up with it. A bill that would raise the speed limit to 75 miles an hour on many miles of interstate highways in Iowa has cleared its first hurdle in the state senate. Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, says 75 is the posted speed limit in neighboring South Dakota and the data he’s seen doesn’t indicate “an uptick” in traffic accidents and fatalities there. “We have done a lot of things on our interstates, specifically putting the wire in between the two roadways, that have made it a lot safer,” Feenstra says, “thus, hopefully, allowing it to have traffic go a little faster.” Feenstra signed off on the bill so it now is eligible for a vote in the Senate Transportation Committee. Continue Reading

Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Home Goods to Follow Walmart in Raising Starting Wages

NEW YORK (AP) — TJX Cos., the owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods stores, says it will boost pay for U.S. workers to at least $9 per hour. The announcement comes a week after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would increase wages for its employees. Low-paying retailers are having a harder time retaining workers as the job market improves. A TJX spokeswoman declined to say what workers currently earn. A recent Credit Suisse report estimates TJX’s current hourly pay at about $8.24. Continue Reading

New University of Iowa Dormitory to be Largest on Campus

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa plans to construct a residence hall that will house more than 1,000 students and be 12 stories tall, making it the largest dormitory on campus. The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that the university plans to open the 303,000-square-foot dorm in two years at the site of the old Iowa City water plant, overlooking the Iowa River. According to university officials, construction for the $95 million building is scheduled to start late this spring, and be completed before the fall 2017 semester. The new dorm will have twice as many beds as another residence hall that is being built on the university’s campus. Plans for new construction come at a time when the university is trying to make room for larger incoming classes, and increase its in-state recruiting. Continue Reading

Walmart Announces Higher Starting Pay As Legislature Discusses Wage Hike

The nation’s largest employer is announcing plans to increase its starting pay to nine-dollars an hour this spring, with plans to boost the rate another buck to ten-dollars an hour next year. Walmart has 67 stores in Iowa. The move by the retail giant will have a “significant” ripple effect on the markets across Iowa and nationwide, according to Creighton University economist Ernie Goss. “Their competitors like Target and Costco are going to have to raise wages and for one of their competitors, Sears, this may push them further into the economic abyss,” Goss says. “They’ve been in, I won’t say dire circumstances, but I will say not good over the last few years. Continue Reading

Iowa Legislature Advances Bill that Would Ban Powdered Alcohol

A bill to ban powdered alcohol in Iowa has cleared its first hurdle in the Iowa House. Stephanie Strauss of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission says the bill would prohibit bars and retailers in the state that are licensed to sell alcohol from selling “Palcohol” — a product developed by a company based in Phoenix, Arizona. “This is an emerging issue,” Strauss says. “Last year about this time a product was approved at the federal level for sale in the United States and then that approval was quickly reversed. Since that time, states have been deciding how they want to regulate this new product.” Continue Reading

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Gas Tax Bill Advances to Governor’s Mansion, Could Go Into Effect March 1st

The Gas Tax bill has officially made it through the Iowa Legislature. The Legislature approved a 10-cent increase to the fuel tax to help pay for road improvements yesterday. The Senate voted 28-21 and the House 53-46. The plan would provide over $200 million annually for at least the first two years for Iowa’s network of bridges and roads, many of which are in disrepair. For years, the Legislature has considered raising the tax, which hasn’t been changed since 1989. Continue Reading

Lawmakers Remain at Odds Over School Funding

DES MOINES (AP)– Lawmakers in the Democratic-majority Senate and the Republican-controlled House have not yet found consensus on a school funding level for the coming academic year. Both sides stuck firm to their original funding proposals Tuesday. Senate Democrats are standing by a plan that would provide more than $200 million in new funding for K-12 education, which is more than double the increase sought by House Republicans. The House and Senate proposals both include funding specifically dedicated to teacher leadership training. Sen. Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames who chairs the Senate education committee, said he expected the issue to move to a negotiating committee to try and find a compromise solution. Continue Reading