Monday Afternoon News, October 5
Branstad Announces Plan To Increase Skilled Labor In Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have announced an initiative to increase skilled labor in Iowa, but it's unclear how much the plan would cost or how it would be funded.
Branstad and Reynolds said Monday the Future Ready Iowa plan aims to increase the number of Iowans with two-year and four-year degrees, as well as apprenticeships and other certifications.
Branstad and Reynolds sourced a research center at Georgetown University that says by 2025, 68 percent of jobs in Iowa will require education and training beyond high school. The new initiative seeks to have 70 percent of Iowans with that extra education and training by 2025.
Details about how much the initiative would cost were not released. Branstad says the state has programs already working toward the goal.
Branstad Says He Doesn't Have The Power To Stop Funding For Planned Parenthood
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has reiterated he does not have the legal authority to stop a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Iowa from receiving state funding, despite public calls to do so from presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal and others.
Branstad said Monday his office has spoken with the Iowa Attorney General about the state's options in removing taxpayer funding that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland receives for Medicaid services. He says the state would need to show Planned Parenthood has violated terms of the grant money it receives.
Branstad emphasized no state dollars are used to fund abortions.
Republicans around the country have targeted Planned Parenthood after several videos were released by an anti-abortion group. Louisiana Gov. Jindal and Republican legislators in Iowa have asked Branstad to cut funding.
Branstad Says He Won't Dismiss Any Regents For the U of I President Hiring
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says he wants to dispel the notion that he has any authority to remove members of a state board that oversees Iowa's three public universities, following criticism over its hiring of a new University of Iowa president.
Branstad said Monday he was shocked that the Faculty Assembly at the university's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences voted recently for the nine-member Iowa Board of Regents to resign. The faculty group also asked Branstad to dismiss the board.
Branstad, who appoints members for six-year terms, says Iowa code is clear that the board doesn't serve at the pleasure of the governor.
The board's appointment in September of Bruce Harreld, a business executive, has been criticized by some UI faculty. They question Harreld's lack of experience in academics.
Wellmark To Start Selling Policies Under Affordable Health Care Act
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's dominant health insurer has agreed to start selling policies that will qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield announced Monday that plans will be available for 2017. The company has not previously participated in the Affordable Care Act's online health-insurance marketplace, which was launched in the fall of 2013.
As a result, moderate-income Iowa residents were not able to choose Wellmark insurance if they wanted to purchase policies that qualified for new federal subsidies to help pay their premiums.
Wellmark sells more than three-quarters of all health-insurance policies that Iowa consumers purchase on their own in lieu of coverage through an employer or government program.
Plenty of Pumpkins Available In Iowa
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Some Iowa growers say heavy rains haven't cut into their pumpkin crop.
Tammy Stotts, marketing specialist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, says growers she has spoken with all have plenty of pumpkins. She says officials aren't hearing "anything negative," and that it appears to be a good crop of pumpkins this year.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports rains have caused rot for pumpkin farmers elsewhere in the United States.
Deb Christopher of Rogers Market in rural Cedar Falls says they have sandy soil, so the rainy conditions were "perfect" for them. She says there are many pumpkins that are larger than normal this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2012 ag census, there were 381 farms in Iowa growing pumpkins on 1,175 acres.