Saturday News, April 5
Soderberg And Anderson To Hold Final Legislative Forums
(Le Mars) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg along with State Senator Bill Anderson will hold their final legislative forums today. The Republican lawmakers will be at the Le Mars Public Library beginning at 10:00 a.m. Following their Le Mars visit, the two legislators will be in Struble at 11:00 a.m.; Remsen at the Mid-Sioux Opportunity office at noon, Moville Fire Station at 1:15 and Pierson at the Community Center at 2:15 p.m. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. The lawmakers will give an update as to the legislative session and listen to issues of concern by constituents.
Soderberg Speaks About Budget Progress And "Secret Settlements"
(Le Mars) -- Representative Soderberg believes the Iowa legislature will end its general session within the next couple of weeks, but before the law makers ajourn, they must first agree upon specific department budgets.
Despite the waiting game, Soderberg says he is generally pleased with the progress the legislature is making with the budget.
This past week a lot of attention was focused on the so-called "secret settlements" in which the Branstad administration paid fired state employees money to remain silent about their dismissal. Soderberg says the issue caught the attention of lawmakers from both chambers and from both sides of the aisle.
The Le Mars state representative says a joint government oversight committee has been busy this week investigating the allegations.
Le Mars Public Library To Decide If It Participates With County Library Contract
(Le Mars) -- The Board of Trustees for the Le Mars Public Library is scheduled to meet Monday, and at that time, the directors will decide whether or not to participate in the county contract as established by the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors. Officials with the library say they can't afford to have county residents use the library services without requesting an additional fee from the county residents. Plymouth County Attorney Darin Raymond offered an opinion that stated the Le Mars Public Library would not be allowed to charge county residents an additional fee, as long as the Le Mars Public Library was a member of the county library association which accepts funding from the county.
Lawmakers Work On Internet Access Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill intended to expand broadband access to rural Iowans also includes language that could limit the ability of local governments to regulate the placement of cell towers.
Both the state Senate and House are wrangling with details on the so-called Connect Every Iowan Act. In an effort to increase cellular and wireless coverage as well, the House has included provisions to streamline the cell tower siting application process across the state.
This has prompted opposition from some city officials who argue they are being stripped of their authority in tower placement decisions.
Lawmakers say it's not their intention to remove local authority, and that they will work to find common ground for all parties involved.
Subcommittees in both chambers plan to meet to discuss the legislation next week.
Supreme Court Rules Woman Isn't Eligible For Compensation For Wrongful Imprisonment
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says a woman who spent years in prison before her child endangerment conviction was overturned isn't eligible for compensation under a wrongful imprisonment law.
The court ruled Friday that Tammy Smith didn't meet the law's "very high burden" of proving that she's actually innocent. The ruling means Smith is ineligible for reimbursement for lost wages and other damages under the law.
Smith was convicted of child endangerment resulting in serious injury in 2007 after her young, non-communicative son ended up with a severely broken arm in their Humboldt home. She received a 10-year term.
In 2011, an appeals court overturned her conviction after the boy learned to talk and said his arm was broken after getting caught in the washing machine. A prosecutor dismissed the case.
Prosecutors Want Change Of Venue For Doctor Trial
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - State prosecutors have requested a change of venue for the trial of a Council Bluffs doctor charged with sexually abusing a 5-year-old girl.
Officials say in a motion filed Wednesday that it would be "difficult, if not impossible" to find a fair or impartial jury in Pottawattamie County because of Dennis Jones' ties to the community. They also cited extensive media coverage of the case.
The Attorney General's Office is handling the case because Jones served as an expert witness for the Pottawattamie County Attorney's Office.
Jones is accused of inappropriately touching a girl outside of his pediatrics practice and faces a second-degree sexual abuse charge. Court documents show authorities found child pornography during a search of Jones' home. His attorneys maintain their client's innocence.
American Gothic Statutes To Be At State Fair
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The iconic figures in Grant Wood's painting "American Gothic" have taken up temporary residence at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
The 25-foot-tall replica of the farmer and his daughter will remain at the fairgrounds in east Des Moines for the next six months.
Peter Cownie, executive director of the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation, says his father, Jim Cownie, and central Iowa businessman Bill Knapp paid $30,000 to lease the sculpture.
The artwork by Seward Johnson was completed in 2007 and has been displayed in several locations, including Chicago, Dubuque and most recently at Simpson College in Indianola.
Iowa artist Grant Wood painted "American Gothic" in 1930, and it was first displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago.