DNR Reminds Iowa Hunters the Gray Wolf is a Protected Species

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is encouraging hunters to be aware that gray wolves are once again a protected federal species.  

D-N-R furbearer biologist, Vince Evelsizer, says they want to remind Iowa hunters after the gray wolf protection was reinstated near the end of December. “It just means to be sure of your target — especially if you are out coyote hunting this time of the year when the season is still open for coyotes — to keep an eye out. Because now the gray wolf is protected both federally and state protected,” Evelsizer says. The change protects gray wolves in all of Wisconsin and Michigan, the eastern half of North Dakota and South Dakota, and the northern half of Iowa. Continue Reading

Tougher Penalties Considered for Ag-Related theft

Getting caught stealing a horse was a serious crime in the wild west. A small group of Iowa legislators has been mulling the idea of tougher penalties for modern day cattle rustlers, pig thieves and corn snatchers.  

Representative Lee Hein raises livestock and grain on a farm near Monticello and he says, unfortunately, it’s far easier to catch a car thief than to catch someone who’s stolen agricultural commodities. “You always count everything going into the yard and then as we sell them, we count them going out,” Hein says, “And there’s been times when I’ve probably been short maybe 10-15 hogs and I wonder: ‘Did you miscount or did somebody slip in there at night and load a load up and is gone with it.” Hein first considered establishing a minimum prison sentence for those caught stealing livestock or corn and beans, but he’s now considering other options. Continue Reading

road construction

Iowa’s Fuel Tax is Going Up, How Long before Road Fixes?

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — With a fuel tax increase taking effect, how quickly can Iowa drivers expect to see road improvements on their daily commutes? State and county officials say there will be additional road work underway later this year, but it’s too soon to talk specifics. The 10-cent a gallon increase starts at the pump March 1 and is expected to generate over $200 million annually for Iowa’s bridges and roads, many of which are considered deteriorating or deficient. Lyle Brehm, county engineer for Tama and Poweshiek counties, says he has a “very long list of repairs.” The Legislature approved the tax increase several days ago in a bipartisan deal. Continue Reading

Nebraska, Iowa Expected to See Snow this Weekend

Parts of Nebraska and Iowa are expected to see some light snow this weekend, but the bitter cold will continue to take center stage in the two-state region. The National Weather Service says a dusting of snow could be seen starting Saturday afternoon overnight in to Sunday for central and parts of eastern Nebraska, with some heavier snow in southern portions of the state. That light snow is expected to quickly move into Iowa, with some heavier amounts near the southern border with Missouri. In northeast Iowa, single-digit temperatures and southeast winds of 5-to-10 mph are creating wind chills of 20- to 30-below zero. The service says another winter system moving into the area Tuesday could bring more rain, freezing rain and snow to the area. Continue Reading

Former Maquoketa Chief: 40-Year-Old Murder Likely Never to be Solved

MAQUOKETA, Iowa (AP) — A former police investigator in eastern Iowa says officials are holding out little hope of solving the murder of an 84-year-old woman committed 40 years ago this week in Maquoketa. Hulda Fischer was found dead in her Maquoketa home on the evening of Feb. 25, 1975. A widow, Fischer had been strangled and repeatedly stabbed. Retired Maquoketa Police Chief Bob Andersen tells the Dubuque Telegraph Herald that he doesn’t think the case will ever be solved. Continue Reading

‘Performance Based’ University Funding Formula Questioned

Legislators are raising questions about the new “performance-based” formula for directing tax dollars to the three state-supported universities. The formula would shift more money to the University of Northern Iowa, where nearly 90 percent of students are Iowa residents, and the University of Iowa would get less money because its enrollment is nearly half Iowans and half out-of-staters. Representative Zach Nunn, a Republican from Bondurant, says it seems like a “shell game” to him. “I’m having a hard time appreciating where we’re giving (state tax dollars) to each of the Regents schools and then having one Regents school come back and plead that they, now, have been pillaged,” Nunn says. In the formula’s first year of implementation, the University of Iowa would get about 13 million dollars less and legislators are being asked to give the university that much extra money to fill the shortfall. Continue Reading

Insurance Cooperative to Shut Down this Weekend

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An insurance cooperative created to provide health care in Iowa and Nebraska will be formally liquidated this weekend. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said Thursday that a Polk County judge has agreed to approve the liquidation plan, which will be finalized on Saturday night. CoOportunity is a federally funded nonprofit established to provide health care in Iowa and Nebraska. Gerhart took the cooperative over after he determined the nonprofit’s claims would exceed its available cash. About 24,000 people still have CoOportunity plans in Iowa and Nebraska, with about 5,500 who bought coverage on the insurance exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act. Continue Reading

Man wants Death Trial Delayed so he can Help Ailing Daughter

DECORAH, Iowa (AP) — A former Boone man charged with killing his wife in 2012 wants to delay his April trial so he can help his 5-year-old daughter recover from a bone marrow transplant. The Des Moines Register reports that 40-year-old Alexander Fazzino’s daughter, Coco, has leukemia and is scheduled to undergo the transplant on March 31. Court records say his trial is set to begin on April 13. Fazzino’s attorney filed the request for a delay on Wednesday. Court records don’t show that the judge has ruled on it yet. Continue Reading

Court Rejects Lawsuit in Dispute over Iowa Film Tax Credits

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court is upholding the state’s refusal to award tax credits claimed by the makers of a documentary tied to the “Field of Dreams” movie. The court on Friday upheld the dismissal of a breach of contract claim filed by investors who bankrolled “Ghost Player: Relive the Magic.” The dispute stems from an Iowa film tax credit program that was the nation’s most generous but abandoned in 2010 amid scandal. Documentary maker Joe Scherrman says he believed he was owed about $400,000 under a state contract signed in 2009, but the state offered $59,000 after disputing some expenses. His film tells the story of the Ghost Players, who play baseball and perform comedy at the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville and have traveled the world performing. Continue Reading