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Lawmakers Reach Deal on IA PropTax, Income Tax Reform

After two and a half years of negotiations, legislators have tentatively agreed on a plan that will reduce commercial property taxes in Iowa, set a slightly lower limit on future property tax increases for homes and farms, AND reduce income taxes as well.  

Commercial property tax rates will be cut by 10 percent within three years, a roll-back republicans sought, and a new tax credit will be created for all commercial property owners, something Democrats proposed. The Democrats’ call for increasing a tax credit for low-income iowans is included in the package, as well as a new tax credit of up to 60 dollars a year for Iowa income taxpayers – something Repubklicans like House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha wanted as a way to deal with unspent or surplus money in the state budget. The plan also sets a slightly lower, three percent limit on how much assessments on residential and farmland can go up each year. The present limit is four percent. Paulsen says that means the package deals with all classes of property in Iowa. Continue Reading

IL Concealed Carry Conversation Continues; Chicago Unique?

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois Senate committee has approved a concealed carry proposal that would require special permission to have a gun in Chicago.  

The Senate Executive Committee approved Sen. Kwame Raoul’s (KWAH’-may rah-OOLZ’) proposal 10-4 on Thursday afternoon. Republican minority leader Christine Radogno voted “present.” The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that Illinois’ ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional. Continue Reading

Iowa Bank Robber Charged with Trying to Escape

BENTON, Ill. (AP) — A convicted Iowa bank robber serving a roughly six-year sentence at a federal prison camp in southern Illinois is accused of trying to escape.  

Fifty-five-year-old David John Pederson was arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Benton on the escape charge. Prosecutors say Pederson was being transferred in March from the Marion camp to a halfway house in Council Bluffs, Iowa, when he left the extended limits of his confinement, constituting an escape. He was indicted on the escape charge on May 9. Continue Reading

Iowa SupCo Rules Against Dental Price Caps by Insurers

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court says insurers cannot impose price caps on dentists who accept their plans for procedures that aren’t reimbursed.  

The court’s 7-0 ruling Friday is a victory for dentists who can now set their own prices for some services, rather than being forced to accept the maximum fees that insurers want them to charge. But it’s also a potential setback for patients who could see higher bills for some procedures, even some that their policies would normally cover. Under the ruling, dentists are free to set their own prices when an insurer does not pay for a normally-covered procedure because of limits in the policy, such as how maximum annual benefits. Iowa’s insurance commissioner warned in 2011 that customers could face significantly higher costs if dentists prevailed. Continue Reading

Stack Of Cash

Iowa Governor Salary Increase

A new bill is being proposed by Terry Branstad that would give some nice raises to future Iowa elected officials. 

The bill also proposes salary increases for union-represented workers. Legislative leaders say the bill is unlikely to advance. If for some reason it does though, the next governor will go from making $130,000 to $141,710. Continue Reading

Click

Click it or Ticket this Weekend

Iowa law enforcement is urging you to buckle up this Memorial Day weekend. The busy driving season is almost here so officers will be out full force as part of the 2013 National “Click it or Ticket” seat belt enforcement immobilization. The seat belt crack down runs from May 20th to June 2nd, although officers are enforcing seat belt laws year round. If you’re not strapped in, be prepared to get a ticket. Continue Reading

9,000 Acre NW Wisconsin Wildfire Biggest in 33 Years

TOWN OF GORDON, Wis. (AP) — Firefighters battling a 9,000-acre in northwestern Wisconsin have contained the massive blaze.  

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Robert Manwell said Thursday the fire in Douglas and Bayfield counties is 100 percent contained. Manwell says fire crews will be handling small brush fires and reworking the lines that contain the wildfire. Authorities opened all roads in the area overnight and some residents headed back to their homes. Continue Reading

Morrison, IL Seeks Historic Status for Downtown

MORRISON, Ill. (AP) — The city of Morrison in northwestern Illinois wants to have its downtown business district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

The Daily Gazette in Sterling reports that the Whiteside County city will use grant money to pay a Springfield historic preservation consultant to prepare its application for the register. The city received a $14,000 federal grant for the effort. City officials say getting National Historic District designation would bring economic benefits to the town. Continue Reading

ISU Engineers Work to Design Concrete Turbine Towers

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Engineers at Iowa State University are working on a way to make wind turbine towers taller by building them from concrete instead of the steel currently used.  

Increasing tower height to about 328 feet from the current 260 feet would mean steadier less turbulent wind conditions and longer turbine blades. ISU Professor Sri Sritharan says those changes could increase energy production by 15 percent. He says the work he’s done with engineering graduate student Grant Schmitz and other engineers at Iowa State shows towers made of precast concrete panels and columns withstand necessary stresses. He says the concrete towers would last longer than steel towers and would be easier to transport. Continue Reading