Wednesday News, January 30
Climatologist Says Drought Likely To Continue
(Le Mars) -- "More of the same..." that's what State Climatologist Harry Hilaker told a group of farmers and other crop production officials during a seminar held in Le Mars on Tuesday. Although Hilliker says it is likely the drought will continue through this upcoming crop year, there may be some noticeable changes.
Hilaker says the real concern may not be so much with the dry conditions for the crops, but rather with the available water supplies.
The state climatologist says don't look for any re-charge of moisture levels during the winter months.
Sohl To Retire From Conservation Post
(Le Mars) -- After being on the job for 38 years, Plymouth County Conservation Executive Director, Dennis Sohl has announced he intends to retire. The announcement was made official when Sohl mailed a letter to inform the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors. Sohl made the announcement to the County Conservation Board during their last meeting last Monday. Sohl's official last day will be August 15, 2013. The newly constructed Outdoor Learning Center located at the Hillview Recreation Center is named after the Conservation official.
Plymouth County's Finances Are In Good Shape
(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County's financial condition was given a stamp of approval today when Jeff Peters of the Williams and Company offered to supervisors his independent review and audit of the county's finances.
According to Peters' audit, the county has enough money in reserve to continue operations for at least 90 days. Peters noted it is a vast improvement from years past when the county had only enough finances in reserve to sustain for about 45 days. However, Peters suggested to the governing board to see if they may be able to increase the reserve general fund to continue county operations for at least 120 days.
15 Female Truck Drivers Not Allowed To Testify in Sexual Harassment Case
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge says 15 female drivers who claim they were sexually harassed by male trainers cannot testify at the upcoming trial against a Cedar Rapids trucking company.
U.S. District Judge Linda Reade barred the testimony Monday from women who claim they were groped, assaulted and harassed while working for CRST Van Expedited.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission wanted to introduce their testimony to bolster claims of the woman it's representing in the long-running case. Monika Starke claims she reported being
sexually harassed by a trainer in 2005 but a dispatcher initially instructed her to stay on the truck. CRST denies that.
Reade says the testimony isn't relevant to Starke's claim and could confuse and prejudice jurors since the 15 were allegedly harassed by other trainers. A scheduling hearing is Thursday.
Democratic Legislators Wants To Expand Medicaid
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic legislators are pushing to expand Medicaid in Iowa.
Sen. Jack Hatch and Rep. Lisa Heddens, both Democrats, introduced legislation Tuesday that would broaden eligibility requirements for the state program, which covers low-income people, including children and the disabled. President Barack Obama's health care overhaul provides funding to states that do this expansion.
If expanded, as many as 150,000 people could be added to Iowa's Medicaid rolls, mostly low-income childless adults.
Gov. Terry Branstad has opposed an expansion, based on the cost to the state. The federal government would pay the full cost of the expansion for three years and then the state would gradually assume 10 percent of the costs for the new enrollees.
Economic Development Authority Wants More Money
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Economic Development Authority is asking legislators to approve an extra $65 million in state tax credits for this fiscal year.
The state puts a $120 million limit on tax breaks the agency can offer business, but director Debi Durham told lawmakers Tuesday that the authority needs $185 million for the fiscal year ending
Democrat Sen. William Dotzler of Waterloo express skepticism, saying Iowa got "suckered" into giving $150 million in loans and tax breaks to two fertilizer companies last year. Those were the
state's biggest capital investment in history.
Durham says the request is necessary to compete with other states to get big business deals in Iowa.
The authority also asked for a $35 million budget increase for international marketing and a new jobs program.
Alons Wants To Make It Easier For Veterans To Obtain Guns
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Republican lawmaker wants to make it easier for veterans to purchase certain types of guns in Iowa.
Rep. Dwayne Alons has proposed legislation that would allow veterans to buy pistols and revolvers without getting a permit from a county sheriff. Currently, anyone purchasing those types of firearms must first get a permit.
Alons, of Hull, argued Tuesday at a subcommittee hearing that gun dealers already do background checks, so the additional permit process is unnecessary.