Gun Bill Easily Clears Iowa House

A bill that deals with a wide range of gun-related issues has easily cleared the Iowa House on a 75 to 24 vote. Representative Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, was the bill’s floor manager. “We have before us here a bill that does many things to advance Second Amendment rights here in the state of Iowa,” Windschitl says. The bill would allow Iowans to buy “silencers” that suppress the sound of a gunshot. It also would get rid of the restriction that forbids kids under the age of 14 from handling a pistol or handgun. Continue Reading

Iowa Pharmacy Board Denies Marijuana Reclassification Request

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy on Monday denied another request for the board to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I designation.  

Carl Olsen of Des Moines, who founded Iowans for Medical Marijuana, submitted the request. He says keeping marijuana as a Schedule I substance indicates the plant has no medicinal value. “We have 34 states that have declared [marijuana as] medicine and we have it in this crazy classification that says it’s only for substances that have no accepted medical use and treatment in the United States,” Olsen says. “These schedules were meant to be flexible because circumstances change and for [pharmacy board members] to act like 34 state laws is not a significant change in circumstances is insane.” Continue Reading

IL Governor Appoints New Prison Director

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has chosen someone from the U.S. State Department to run Illinois’ Department of Corrections. Rauner announced Monday morning that 54-year-old Donald Stolworthy to head the state’s prison system. Stolworthy replaces former corrections director S.A. “Tony” Godinez who announced he would retire at the end of December. Stolworthy works at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotic and Law Enforcement Affairs. He assesses foreign prison systems and provides guidance to senior State Department officials. Continue Reading

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48-Year Old Charged with Weekend Abduction was 9 Year-Old’s Stepfather

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a 48-year-old man accused of abducting his 9-year-old stepdaughter in Solon will be returned to Johnson County to face domestic abuse, weapons and other charges. The abduction of Brianna Crane on Saturday prompted officials to issue an Amber Alert. The Iowa Public Safety Department says the girl was dropped off safely to law enforcement by a third party around 1:30 a.m. Sunday through an arranged meeting. Her stepfather, Kenneth Johns, was arrested about 9:35 a.m. Sunday after holding officers at bay for about 2 1/2 hours at a residence in Davenport. Online court records don’t list the name of an attorney who could be contacted for comment about the case. Continue Reading

Branstad says he will try to Restore Funds to Broadband Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad says he will try to restore state funding to his broadband bill that was designated for a grant program. Branstad said Monday the grant program could receive the money again through other funding mechanisms in the legislative process, including a bill or amendment. A House committee recently voted to remove the $5 million in state funding for the program, which is aimed at assisting service providers with the cost of establishing broadband, also known as high-speed Internet, in Iowa. Lawmakers expressed concern about the sustainability of the funds. The program remains in the bill, but it designates funding through federal and private dollars. Continue Reading

Branstad Plans Financial Literacy Event for Iowa Students

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad wants Iowa students to learn how to make good financial decisions, particularly when it comes to college loans. Branstad announced Monday that the state will hold a financial literacy summit for students, parents and educators. Branstad said he wants the May 5 event in Des Moines to help prepare students and parents for college borrowing decisions. Branstad expressed concerns about the debt load assumed by many students and said students must learn “not borrow money for things they don’t need.” Iowa school districts are expected to teach certain financial lessons to K-12 students. Continue Reading

Low Conversion in Iowa for the REAL ID Program

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Many licensed drivers in Iowa have not converted their identification to a version that is designed to help reduce identity theft and fraud. The Sioux City Journal reports two years after Iowa implemented the REAL ID program, only about 250,000 of Iowa’s 2.1 million licensed drivers have switched to identification that may be needed in the future to enter some federal buildings or board a plane. Mark Lowe, the director of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Division, says he is not surprised by the low number, and that the department needs to continue its awareness campaign to increase conversion. REAL ID was adopted in 2005, in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, to help states verify the identities of people applying for driver’s licenses and cut down on identity theft. Continue Reading

Jetliner Makes Emergency Landing in Iowa

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A San Francisco-bound jet has made an unscheduled stop in Sioux City to get help for an ailing crew member. JetBlue Airways says in a news release that Flight 415 from New York City made a priority landing at 7:25 p.m. Sunday because of a medical issue on board. Airline spokesman Morgan Johnston said Monday morning that it was his understanding that the first officer was taken to a local hospital for treatment and has already been discharged. The flight of the Airbus A-321 carrying 159 passengers and six crew members originated at John F. Kennedy Airport. Johnston says another plane and crew were sent to Sioux City to carry the passengers on to San Francisco International. Continue Reading

One Killed, Two Seriously Injured in Keokuk County Accident

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa State Patrol says it’s investigating after a 17-year-old girl was killed and two people were injured in a two-vehicle wreck over the weekend in Keokuk County. Spokesman Sgt. Nathan Ludwig of the state patrol says the Saturday accident occurred when a vehicle driving northbound ran a stop sign and collided with a westbound vehicle at an intersection. The driver of the westbound vehicle was Bethanne Cooksey of Hedrick, and she died in the crash. Two others were seriously injured in the accident and are in the hospital. Continue Reading