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Tentative Budget Agreement Struck in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Legislative leaders say they have a tentative budget agreement that could enable them to adjourn within days. Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said Friday they had reached an understanding. They declined to provide details on the overall spending level or on individual items, like education, saying that information would be released next week. The leaders in the divided Legislature reached the terms after roughly five hours of negotiations Friday. They have been haggling for weeks since their daily expense payments ran out May 1. Continue Reading

Bird Flu Disaster Emergency Extended

The governor has extended the disaster emergency he issued following the outbreak of avian flu. Governor Terry Branstad declared the emergency on May 1st and it was set to expire at the end of this month, but he has now extended the declaration through the month of June. The number of facilities hit by the bird flu outbreak is now 68, and has impacted millions of chickens and turkeys in 18 counties. The disaster declaration allows for the coordination of state resources in the disposal of the infected animals. Branstad said at the time he declared the state of emergency that it was the worst such outbreak in the state in modern times. Continue Reading

Be Mindful of Teen Drivers During “100 Deadliest Days”

A new study finds almost two-thirds of people injured or killed in crashes involving a teen driver are people -other- than the teen behind the wheel. Rose White, traffic safety director at Triple-A-Iowa, says we’re now in what’s considered the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb. Kids are out of school, White says, and often have access to vehicles. “As a result, we always see a big increase in crashes and, unfortunately, fatalities and injuries involving young teen drivers,” White says. “Looking at stats over two decades, we are noticing that in those fatality crashes, it’s usually a person in the other vehicle or possibly a passenger that’s killed in the car crash.” Continue Reading

Bird Flu Detected in Hamilton County

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials have reported another probable case of bird flu in the state. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said Thursday that the case involves around 17,000 turkeys at a farm in Hamilton County. If the disease presence is confirmed, the birds will be euthanized. The department says the discovery in Hamilton means Iowa now has 68 cases of the avian flu, affecting more than 26 million birds. Continue Reading

No Adjournment in Sight in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There is still no adjournment in sight for Iowa’s lawmakers, as budget talks appear likely to drag into June. Legislative leaders reported to the state Capitol on Thursday, but the full membership has not been in session all week. Leaders were continuing to hold private discussions about a compromise budget plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Daily expense payments ended for lawmakers May 1, but they cannot adjourn without a budget deal. With the Senate Democrats proposing an overall general fund budget of about $7.34 billion and House Republicans seeking to spend $7.17 billion, the difference is not large. Continue Reading

Amber Alert Cancelled as Students Found Safe

Your phone may have vibrated early yesterday afternoon as authorities issued an “Amber Alert” for two northwest Iowa students who failed to show up for school. The students, 12 year old Bayli Jordan and 16 year old Jamie Panko, were found at a state park about 50 miles away from Everly, Iowa. Authorities say it was NOT a kidnapping, but they sought the public’s help in tracking down the two students due to concerns about their safety. The alert was cancelled about an hour after it was issued. Nearly every cell phone in the state of Iowa recieved the text message alert. Continue Reading

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Indicted on Bank Charges

Federal prosecutors have announced bank-related charges against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert. A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago says the 73-year-old Illinois Republican is accused of structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He’s also accused of lying to the FBI. Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. From 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of approximately $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided it to a person identified only as Individual A, according to the indictment. Continue Reading

Bird Flu Detected in Wright County

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials say there’s another probable case of bird flu in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said Wednesday it’s responding to a probable case of bird flu at a commercial laying operation in Wright County in northern Iowa. Initial testing was positive for the disease. If confirmed, the operation’s estimated 1 million birds will be euthanized. The announcement comes a day after the department said other probable cases were reported in Adair and Webster counties. Continue Reading

Dyersville Acted Legally on “Field of Dreams” Zoning Change

DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ruled that Dyersville officials acted legally in approving a zoning change for a proposed baseball complex at the “Field of Dreams” movie site. The Telegraph Herald reports that residents seeking to block the development say they’ll appeal. District Court Judge Thomas Bitter’s ruling, which was made public Monday, stemmed from a March trial over the council’s decision to rezone the site from an agricultural space to a commercial space. The move paved the way for the planned development of a 24-field youth baseball and softball complex. The council approved the rezoning in 2012. Continue Reading