Saturday News - April 23rd
Sioux County Installs Surveillance Cameras
(Orange City, IA)- Sioux County recently completed the installation of surveillance cameras in both the Treasurer’s Building and the County Courthouse, which are both located in Orange City.
There are 17 cameras placed in the Courthouse and two in the Treasurer’s Office. The total cost of the project was $35,000. Signs have been posted at both County buildings to increase awareness of the presence of the monitoring system. The cameras are monitored 24/7 by the Sioux County Communications Center. The cameras are part of a continuing initiative by the Sioux County Safety Committee to increase security in County facilities.
Iowa Legislators Still Apart On Issues
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers in the split Iowa Legislature haven't reached agreement on several issues needed for adjournment this session, and it means they'll be back next week.
The Republican-majority House and Democratic-controlled Senate have made advancements on several bills that will make up the nearly $7.35 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. But many bills remain unfinished as each side adds funding and projects to the pieces of legislation.
At least some bills are expected to be sorted out in special legislative committees that only form when there's no consensus. Legislative leaders say they'll return Monday and Tuesday for more negotiations.
Senate Votes To Keep Planned Parenthood Funded
(Des Moines, IA) - All but one Democrat in the Iowa Senate have voted to block a bid by Republican legislators to "defund" Planned Parenthood. Under current law, Medicaid patients in Iowa can go to Planned Parenthood for contraceptives or reproductive health exams. Earlier this week House Republicans voted to ban all state tax dollars from being spent at Planned Parenthood, proposing instead that Medicaid patients go to more than 200 "federally-qualified health care providers for family planning services.
That's Republican Senator Amy Sinclair of Allerton, an advocate of the House G-O-P's plan. No state tax dollars are being spent on abortion services at Planned Parenthood, but Republican Senator Ken Rozenboom (ROH-zen-boom) of Oskaloosa says many Iowans "strenuously object" to sending ANY tax dollars to the organization.
Rozenboom says. Senator Amanda Ragan (RAY-gun), a Democrat from Mason City, spoke out against the G-O-P effort to "defund" Planned Parenthood.
Ragan says. Ragan acknowledged the "passion" this debate has generated.
At the conclusion of debate, 25 Democratic senators voted to stick with the status quo and allow state funding of NON-abortion services at Planned Parenthood. All 24 Republicans, plus Democratic Senator Joe Seng (sing) of Davenport voted to bar all tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood. That means the House G-O-P plan failed on a tie vote today (Friday) in the Senate. Planned Parenthood officials say about 30-thousand Iowa Medicaid patients get NON-abortion services at Planned Parenthood each year. The State of Iowa pays 10 percent of those bills. The federal government covers the rest.
Iowa and Minnesota Working Together On Medical Marijuana Issues
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Officials in Iowa and Minnesota are exploring a system to allow Iowa residents to buy medical marijuana from their northern neighbor, lawmakers from both states have told The Associated Press.
Iowa's Legislature has struggled this year to expand a 2014 law that legalized marijuana oils for patients suffering seizures but left them nowhere to buy it. Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said Friday an agreement with Minnesota is one option they're now considering.
Minnesota's program launched last summer. The novel setup could bring more patients to the two companies in Minnesota that are struggling with low enrollment.
But it would also raise some federal concerns. And it could pit Iowa residents with long drives to the closest dispensary in Rochester, Minnesota - three hours northeast of Des Moines.
Mall Shooters Trial Nearing Completion
NEVADA, Iowa (AP) - Prosecution and defense lawyers have finished presenting witness testimony in the trial of a man charged with killing a woman at a Coralville mall.
State and defense lawyers concluded testimony Friday in the first-degree murder trial of Alexander Kozak, who is charged in the shooting death of Andrea Farrington at the Coral Ridge Mall on June 12.
Lawyers will make their closing arguments Monday, and the jury will begin deliberations.
Prosecutors say Farrington was shot three times while working in the mall. Police say Kozak told officers he "snapped" after getting a text from Farrington saying she was breaking off their relationship.
The trial was moved to Story County because of media attention. If convicted, Kozak faces a mandatory life in prison sentence.
Supreme Court Gives Victory To Iowa Department of Human Services
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court has handed a victory to the Iowa Department of Human Services in a dispute over cuts in payments made to a group of Medicaid service providers in 2011.
The dispute occurred after then-Gov. Chet Culver ordered 10 percent budget cuts for state agencies in 2009 and the Legislature passed a bill in 2010 continuing those cuts into the 2011 state fiscal year. The DHS, however, neglected to carry over a portion of those cuts - a 2.5 percent inflation adjustment - into its administrative rules which set service provider payments.
Service providers sued, claiming the administrative rules govern rates, and the Iowa Court of Appeals agreed.
The Supreme Court on Friday, however, said statutes enacted by the Legislature prevail over administrative rules when there are conflicts.
University of Northern Iowa president Bill Ruud says the effort to push up enrollment on the Cedar Falls campus continues to see positive results.
Ruud says enrollment has increased for the freshman class by 16 percent in four years.
He says to see such success in growth is phenomenal.
Ruud made his comments at the Board of Regents meeting Thursday.