New Iowa Strip-Search Bill Mirrors U-S Supreme Court Ruling

A bill in the Iowa Legislature would allow more strip searches of inmates in city and county jails, in accordance with a U-S Supreme Court ruling. Under the bill, people arrested for simple misdemeanors such as public intoxication or possession of drug paraphernalia could be searched for contraband even without probable cause. Lisa Davis Cook with the Iowa Association for Justice objects. Iowa law already allows so-called visual searches without probable cause for more serious offenses. A-C-L-U attorney Pete McRoberts says the bill should only cover violent offenders, but Marshall County Sheriff’s Department chief deputy, Steve Hoffman, says that could pose a threat to officers. Continue Reading

Special Prosecutor Will Look Again at Trooper-Involved Drowning

The case of a Clive, Iowa man who drowned while in the custody of Missouri troopers is getting another look from a special prosecutor. The special prosecutor that four months ago said she wouldn’t charge a Highway Patrol trooper in the drowning of an Iowa man while in that trooper’s custody now says she is reviewing the case after getting new information. The Kansas City Star reports Amanda Grellner has had witnesses re-interviewed in recent weeks, including a couple who saw Brandon Ellingson in the water on the Lake of the Ozarks minutes before he drowned. She won’t comment about what is being reviewed or specifics of the investigation. Brandon Ellingson died May 31 after falling out of a Patrol boat while handcuffed and after the lifejacket that had been improperly placed on him, slid off. Continue Reading

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Governor Branstad Answers Critics on Mt. Pleasant Mental Health & Clarinda MHI Issue

Governor Terry Branstad says his administration won’t be violating state law if they continue to run “significant” prison operations and a military-style academy on the Mental Health Institute campuses in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda. But state Senator Rich Taylor of Mount Pleasant argues Iowa law requires the state to provide in-patient care for mentally ill patients at both sites. Branstad says the attorney general’s office has assured him what he’s proposing is legal. Key legislators…including Taylor and Republican Dave Heaton of Mt. Pleasant… Continue Reading

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It’s Iowa; ‘Must Be Election Season

A parade of Republicans who’ve said they may run for president will speak at an event tomorrow(Saturday) in Des Moines. The speaking schedule for Congressman Steve King’s “Iowa Freedom Summit” includes a retired surgeon, two people who’ve made their mark in the business world and four people who are either in congress now or who used to serve there. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is one of the half dozen current or former Republican governors who’ll speak.  Walker will tout what he calls the “Wisconsin comeback” — something he says some of the other would-be candidates can’t match. The other speakers at Saturday’s event who have state-level chief executive experience are New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Sarah Palin of Alaska and Jim Gilmore of Virgina as well as Rick Perry, whose 14-year run as governor of Texas ended earlier this week. Continue Reading

On-Line Voter Registration Closer

The Iowa Voter Registration Commission is moving ahead with plans to let all eligible Iowa voters with a state-issued photo I-D register to vote online, but it will be up to the Iowa Department of Transportation to determine just when it can start. Carol Olson, the Deputy Secretary of State in charge of elections, says D-O-T officials expect a new on-line voter registration system to be ready in the first quarter of 2016 — which means it may not be up in time for the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. Most Iowans are able to go online to renew their driver’s license and they can register to vote during that process, but the D-O-T is developing a separate system that would allow someone who either has a valid Iowa driver’s license or an I-D card issued by the D-O-T to go online, enter their identification number and register to vote at any time, not just when they’re renewing their license. The majority of states that have online voter registration go through the state motor vehicle department and Olson says it makes sense for Iowa to do the same rather than have the Iowa secretary of state’s office create a whole new online voter registration system. The websites for the Iowa secretary of state’s office and for Iowa’s 99 county auditors will link to the D-O-T’s online voter registration system, once it’s up and running. Continue Reading

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Accused S. Iowa Shooter Caught

CHARITON, Iowa (AP) — A 45-year-old man suspected in the shooting of a woman in southern Iowa has been arrested in Missouri. The Iowa Public Safety Department says Robert Graham was taken into custody on Monday night at Poosey State Park in northern Missouri. A jailer said Graham remained at Livingston County Jail on Tuesday morning. Authorities say 33-year-old Gayle Darrah was shot Friday outside her home in Chariton. She was taken to a local hospital and then to a Des Moines hospital, where she remains in critical condition. Continue Reading

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Oil Pipeline Company Will Request Building Permit This Month

A Dallas, Texas based company proposing to build a crude oil pipeline that would cross 18 Iowa counties, including Lee, and 10 in Illinois, including Hancock, will file for a permit to build with the Iowa Utilities Board later this month. Energy Transfer Partners Senior Vice President Joey Mahmoud says the company has permission from 80 percent of landowners along the proposed route to survey. If the petition is approved, he says the company will seek eminent domain powers to survey the rest of the land. Iowans have spoken out in favor and against the project so far in public information sessions held by the state. Opinions also vary outside the state. Continue Reading

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President Obama Visits Cedar Falls Utility Company, Calls for More Competition in Broadband Industry

Cedar Falls hosted a visit from President Barack Obama yesterday (Wednesday). He praised the community’s efforts to improve broadband access, making Cedar Falls Iowa’s first so-called gigabit-city. Around 200 people crowded into a garage at Cedar Falls Utilities to hear the president’s 20-minute long speech. Obama said 45-million Americans lack access to high speed internet service and there are millions more who live in locations where there’s only one choice for their broadband service. Cedar Falls Utilities provides broadband and cable to the Cedar Valley, as it does water, electricity and natural gas. Continue Reading

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Branstad Calls for Better Roads, Broadband and School Culture

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad says he will work this year to improve Iowa’s roads and Internet infrastructure and to combat school bullying. Branstad says in his prepared 2015 Condition of the State speech to the Iowa General Assembly on Tuesday that Iowa’s roads and bridges face an uncertain future and the state needs to fix them. He has proposed a slightly larger general fund budget for the next fiscal year of $7.3 billion. It includes additional funding for schools and to support a tuition freeze at state universities. Branstad says the budget will be tight, but fair. Continue Reading