Hatch Proposes IA Gas-Tax Hike, Income Tax Cut

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch says “years of neglect” have left Iowa’s roads and bridges in terrible shape and it’s time to raise the state gas tax by 10 cents a gallon over the next five years.  

Hatch proposes raising the gas tax by two-cents-a-gallon in each of the next five years.   Hatch also proposes dedicating one-fifth of the state’s surplus to infrastructure projects like school upgrades, expanded broadband service in rural Iowa and rebuilt sewer and water systems.   Hatch says his “Building a Better Iowa” Plan will address the state’s infrastructure deficit.  Hatch says he’ll be able to sell this gas tax hike to Iowans because he’s also proposing an income tax cut for middle class Iowans.  

Republican Governor Terry Bransad has indicated he would sign a gas tax hike into law, if legislators approved the move, but he has not openly advocated for it. Branstad’s D-O-T director recently circulated a list of ways to increase taxes and fees on Iowans for things like vehicle purchases and using off-road fuel rather than increasing the state gas tax. Hatch says it’s time for Branstad to quit trying to “cobble together” a plan and support an approach that deals with the problem of crumbling infrastructure. Continue Reading

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Man Sent to Prison (Again) for Taking Advantage of Elderly

A Wyoming, Illinois man is going back to prison for the third time for Aggravated Home Repair Fraud. According to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, 59-year-old Perry Porter took advantage of an elderly citizen by overcharging them on home repairs. The victim told authorities Porter tried to charge $1,000 per hour for the work he did on the victim’s home. After investigating, and consulting with a licensed Illinois roofer and renovation contractor, the Sheriff’s Office concluded that the material and work done to the home would have cost less than $500 total. Porter plead guilty today to the Class 2 Felony charge and was sentenced to five and half years in prison. Continue Reading

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Galesburg Woman Sentenced to Prison for Hit and Run

Nine years behind bars is what a Galesburg woman will be serving after a deadly hit and run last October. 34-year-old Lakeesha Shipplett was allegedly drunk driving last year when she hit and killed a Knox College student near campus. The victim, Tundun Lawani, was from Nigeria and was studying International Relations. Continue Reading

Santorum Back in Iowa, This Time to Push Film

The winner of the 2012 Iowa Republican Party Caucuses was in Iowa last night (Monday) for a private screening of the film his movie studio is releasing nationwide on November 22nd. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is now C-E-O of EchoLight Studios, a company that produces and distributes faith-based, family films. Santorum says the company is filling a void in the marketplace.  The company’s movie — “The Christmas Candle — was screened for an invitation-only audience in West Des Moines last night (Monday). “The Christmas Candle” features an actress who starred in the recent “Les Miserables” movie. and in keeping with the mission of EchoLight Studios, the movie has a central message about faith.  Susan Boyle, the singer who first gained fame on “Britian’s Got Talent” and has released four albums, makes her film debut in the movie.  While EchoLight Studios plans to market the film to churches, it will be advertised to general audiences just like other Hollywood movies. Santorum says private screenings of the movie will be held in Sioux City and Cedar Rapids, too, but those dates are not set yet. Continue Reading

Big Mac May Cost You More This Winter

You could pay a little more for steak or hamburger this winter. Iowa State University livestock economist, Lee Schulz, says the cattle market is rebounding from years of drought, and along with lower grain prices and better forage, the conditions are good for producers.  He says producers sell fewer animals to build up their herds to take advantage of the market situation and keeping those animals out of the marketplace means beef will cost more. Schulz adds, while consumers may see higher prices, retailers are likely to cushion some of the impact. Continue Reading

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IL Lawmakers Approve Gay Marriage but Not Much Else

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Legislature has wrapped up its official 2013 calendar after passing historic gay marriage legislation. But it made little progress on many other high-profile issues on Gov. Pat Quinn’s legislative agenda. Lawmakers have yet to solve the state’s $100 billion pension crisis. They haven’t raised the minimum wage, enacted an assault weapons ban or approved additional ethics reforms. Quinn cited all of those as important tasks in his state of the state address in February. Continue Reading

United Way Steps Into Truancy Problem

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa schools work to limit truancy because it helps improve results, but some question whether more could be done to reduce chronic absences.  

The Des Moines Register reports a group of Iowa United Way chapters plans to ask state lawmakers to require school districts to track chronic absences by school. Supporters say having that information would help communities develop solutions. Currently, the state relies on average daily attendance figures, which can mask chronic absences. Frequent absenteeism isn’t unusual in Iowa. Continue Reading

Waterloo School Honors Late Veteran Steffeney

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — A new memorial stone outside a Waterloo high school football stadium honors the life and service of an Army veteran who died in 2005. Family and friends of Staff Sergeant Eric Steffeney gathered Saturday to dedicate the stone outside West High’s Memorial Stadium. Steffeney graduated from West in 1994 and joined the Army. Steffeney became a bomb disposal technician and was killed near the end of his second tour in Iraq. He was 28 and left behind a wife and three children. Continue Reading

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Iowa Receives Solar Power Grant

The state has won a federal Department of Energy grant of just over one-million-dollars as part of what’s called the “Rooftop Solar Challenge Two.” Iowa Department of Economic Development Authority spokesperson, Tina Hoffman, says the goal is to increase the use of solar energy… “We’re going to be able to help make it easier for Iowans to learn about solar and help reduce the soft costs, making it more affordable.” The first step is developing ways to promote the use of sun power. “We are going to help first educate and increase the awareness around solar energy and how it really can be a viable alternative,” Hoffman explains. Continue Reading