Eminent Domain Reform Legislation Advances

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Legislation that would make it harder for two energy projects to win eminent domain rights has won preliminary approval in the Iowa Legislature. Subcommittees in the House and Senate met jointly Tuesday and approved identical legislation on the issue. Under the proposal, a project seeking eminent domain to build through private properties could only get permission after negotiating voluntary deals for at least 75 percent of the affected land. The proposed change could impact two current proposals. One is to build an oil pipeline that would ship 450,000 barrels daily from production sites in North Dakota to an oil hub in Illinois. Continue Reading

Iowa Legislature Prepares to Adjourn, But Won’t Be Home Anytime Soon

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Staffers in the Iowa Legislature are starting some of the tasks associated with adjourning the session, even though lawmakers are not close to concluding the budget process. Student pages in the Iowa Senate were organizing boxes in the chamber Tuesday for members to pack up desks. As per tradition, they also stacked the boxes up to the balcony until they collapsed. Friday will mark the last day for lawmakers to receive daily expense payments, as well as the final day of work for many clerks and pages in the part-time Legislature. But lawmakers in the Democratic-majority Senate and Republican-controlled House have not reached a compromise deal on the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Continue Reading

Federal Board Declines Request to Reopen Buddy Holly Crash

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board has declined a request to reopen the investigation of the Iowa plane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. The Civil Aeronautics Board ruled in 1959 that the most likely cause of the crash was pilot error. Snow was listed as a secondary caused. In a letter dated April 21, the agency said the evidence presented in a request from pilot L.J. Coon wasn’t sufficient to merit the reconsideration of the findings of the original investigation. Coon had contended that there were other issues involving weight and balance calculations, fuel-gauge readings and more that contributed to the crash. Continue Reading

Grassley Ponders Requiring Federal Probe Into All Police-Involved Minority Deaths

As fires from overnight riots in Baltimore still burn, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s considering calling on the U-S Justice Department to review all cases where minorities die at the hands of police. Grassley, a Republican, is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and he says all options are on the table as these cases appear to become more frequent, with very violent public reactions. “We’re in the early stages of looking at what the committee can or should do, perhaps it’s a hearing, perhaps it could be legislation or it could be nothing. We just don’t know yet,” Grassley says. “I think we need to be very judicious in any response.” Continue Reading

Iowa State Student Found Dead in Her Dorm

The body of an Iowa State University student was discovered Monday afternoon. A resident of Friley Hall on the Ames campus found her female roommate inside their room. Iowa State University Police and emergency medical personnel responded to the scene. The female was pronounced dead by authorities. No foul play is suspected in the case. Continue Reading

Chicken Coop

Bird Flu Found in 5 More Iowa Poultry Farms

The number of bird flu cases in the state more than double Monday in a rapidly changing situation. The Iowa Department of Agriculture issued a news release that it was investigating four probable news cases of the avian flu in commercial poultry farms in Osceola, O’Brien and Sioux Counties in Northwest Iowa. By the time Ag Secretary Bill Northey held a conference call with reporters at 3:15, he had one more possible case to report in Sioux County. “That is three-point-seven million layers, that also has turned in a presumptive positive, a probable case of H-5 as well,” Northey says. The other facilities are a commercial laying operation in Sioux County with one-point-seven million birds, two egg laying facilities in O’Brien County, one with 240-thousand birds, and the other with 98-thousand birds. Continue Reading

Mac Attack: Burnt Mac and Cheese Causes Evacuation at Iowa Statehouse

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A burnt bowl of macaroni and cheese forced a brief evacuation at the Iowa Capitol. Iowa Department of Administrative Services spokesman Caleb Hunter says somebody’s lunch burned in a microwave Monday behind the Senate Chambers on the second floor of the Capitol. He says the smoke prompted a short evacuation of the entire building during the morning. Hunter says he’s not aware of any property damage or injuries. Continue Reading

Farmers Markets Look To Remain Relevant

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — With farmers markets set to begin in dozens of cities across Iowa, vendors and market managers alike are pulling out all the stops to keep consumers coming back for more. National data suggest the tremendous growth in farmers markets has begun to ebb, with a slight decline in sales adjusted for inflation, but officials say customer and vendor retention efforts in Iowa have helped the state’s markets so far evade such a fate. Kelly Foss, director of the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market, says finding ways to ensure incremental growth each year is crucial to success as the market enters its 40th season. Todd Mills sells gourmet mushrooms, and he says his latest venture in Des Moines fills a niche currently unserved at the downtown market. Continue Reading

Waterloo Casino Doesn’t Have to Pay Error-Caused $41 Million Payout

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Illinois grandmother’s incredible luck has run out. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that a Waterloo casino does not have to pay Pauline McKee the $41 million she thought she won in 2011 while playing a penny slot machine. The court says the game’s rules capped jackpots at $10,000 and didn’t allow bonuses. The court says the message that appeared indicating McKee won a $41.8 million legacy bonus “was a gratuitous promise” that the casino wasn’t obligated to pay. The Antioch, Illinois grandmother of 13 hit the bonus while gambling on a Miss Kitty slot machine at the Isle Casino Hotel during a family reunion. Continue Reading