DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Boxes were stacked in the corner of the Iowa Senate chambers on Thursday, but lawmakers are nowhere near ready to pack up.
Still, the legislative session will look different starting Monday. May 3 was the last day for much of the temporary staff and the student pages who work in the Legislature, as well as the final day of expense payments for lawmakers. Most of the 150 legislators will report to work early this week. But if negotiations drag out then numbers will likely dwindle to a smaller group of party leaders and those working on negotiating committees. Continue Reading
CHICAGO (AP) — Four country music stars are announcing their support for legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.
“Big” Kenny Alphin of the musical duo Big & Rich, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emmy Lou Harris and Rodney Crowell signed an open letter released Thursday. They say “gay or straight, when two people are lucky enough to find each other and want to commit their lives to one another, it is nothing less than a blessing to us all.” The letter comes as a bill to allow gay marriage is pending in the Illinois House. The Senate approved the measure in February, and Gov. Pat Quinn supports it. Continue Reading
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court says the state health department must list the names of both spouses in a same-sex relationship on a child’s birth certificate.
The court ruled Friday that the department must include the name of the non-birthing spouse in a lesbian marriage as a legal parent to any child born during the union. Justices say that a state law that allowed only the “name of the husband” to appear on the birth certificate violates the equal protection clause in the Iowa Constitution. The ruling is a victory for Heather and Melissa Gartner of Des Moines, who sued after the department listed only Heather as a parent of their daughter in 2009. The couple married after the Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2009. Continue Reading
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Another round of heavy rain is saturating the Midwest, creating new flood concerns.
Rain — and even rare May snow in some places — pelted the Heartland Thursday and into Friday, and precipitation is expected to continue through the weekend. National Weather Service hydrologist Mark Fuchs says the St. Louis area will likely get 3-4 1/2 inches of rain through Sunday. Continue Reading
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Senate has approved a refined gambling expansion plan adding five new casinos including one in Chicago.
Senators voted 32-20 Wednesday, shortly after a key committee approved it. Lawmakers have twice approved similar plans, but Gov. Pat Quinn rejected them. He said he wanted more ethical safeguards. Continue Reading
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Senate has approved a measure that would require people convicted of certain aggravated misdemeanors to submit DNA samples for a federal databank.
Lawmakers passed the bill Wednesday, 29 to 20. It now goes to Gov. Terry Branstad. Under the proposal, adults convicted of crimes like aggravated misdemeanor assault and theft would submit a DNA sample. Currently, only convicted felons and sexual offenders must submit samples. Continue Reading
OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) — The second murder trial for Seth Techel is scheduled to begin on Aug. 12. The Ottumwa Courier reports that the trial will be held in Mount Pleasant instead of in Ottumwa. Prosecution and defense lawyers supported moving the trial because of extensive coverage of the case. Mount Pleasant is 38 miles from Ottumwa. Continue Reading
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — With time running out in this legislative session, Gov. Terry Branstad still isn’t ruling out the possibility of increasing the state fuel tax, though lawmakers seem less optimistic.
Branstad told reporters this week that if the Legislature approves proposed cuts to the commercial property tax, then a fuel tax increase “could be considered.” For years, legislators have debated increasing Iowa’s fuel tax — currently 22 cents per gallon of gasoline, including fees — but they haven’t taken action. The tax has not gone up since 1989. A commission appointed by Branstad in 2011 recommended an increase of 8 to 10 cents to support the state network of bridges and roads, many of which are considered deteriorating or deficient. Continue Reading
CLARION, Iowa (AP) — Jury selection in the trial of a 14-year-old Osage boy accused of fatally shooting his mother is scheduled to begin this week.
The Mason City Globe Gazette reports jury selection is expected to begin Tuesday in Wright County District Court in Clarion. The trial was moved to Wright County from Mitchell County. A judge granted a change of venue request late last year after the boy’s attorneys cited negative pretrial publicity. Authorities say the boy was 13 when he shot his mother with a rifle in March 2012 at the family’s rural home. Continue Reading