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Wednesday News, March 4

Plymouth Energy Wants To Remove Natural Gas By-Pass Tax

(Le Mars) -- Representatives of the Plymouth Energy ethanol company appeared before the county supervisors on Tuesday to ask for their support to help reduce taxes relating to the purchase of natural gas.  Eamonn Byrne, the Chief Executive Officer for Plymouth Energy informed the county supervisors that natural gas is the second largest expense, following corn, for the Merrill facility.  He says $7 million dollars is spent annually for natural gas.  Byrne informed the supervisors that 21 ethanol and biodiesel plants in Iowa are subject to the tax and wanting to eliminate the Iowa Bypass Natural Gas Replacement Tax.  He says the tax is an "unfair tax" and explains the difference between the three types of natural gas replacement taxpayers.
 
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Byrne says the tax rate is too excessive.

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Byrne says Plymouth Energy contributes to the county's economic development with the number of people employed directly or indirectly to the local ethanol plant.

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The supervisors agreed to write a letter of support for the local ethanol plant, and advised the ethanol representatives that the letters should be addressed to Governor Terry Branstad and many other legislative leaders.  In other action, the supervisors approved a measure to place a weight limit of 6 tons per axle on Marble Avenue through the spring months. 

 

City Council Approves Budget

(Le Mars) -- In city council action from yesterday's meeting, the city council approved the budget for the fiscal year 2015-2016.  Other discussion focused on city street improvements including the intersection at Plymouth Street and Central Avenue, and business highway 75.

 

Legislators Work On Texting Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate committee has approved a bill that would expand language on a texting while driving ban but without a provision to prohibit people from using hand-held devices like cellphones.
     A transportation committee approved the bill Tuesday. It is now available for the full Senate for debate.
     The committee also agreed to defer a vote on a bill that would have increased the speed limit on some Iowa highways from 70 mph to 75 mph. A procedural deadline this Friday means the bill will likely not advance this session.
     Sen. Tod Bowman, a Maquoketa Democrat and committee chairman, says he removed the hand-held ban from the texting bill because he wanted to make sure the legislation had enough bipartisan support.

 

Lawmakers Work On Bill Allowing Youinger Children To Use Guns

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Younger children could use guns with their parents' approval under a bill approved by a House panel.
     A judiciary subcommittee unanimously approved the bill Tuesday. It now heads to a full committee.
     Rep. Matt Windschitl, a Missouri Valley Republican, sponsored the bill, which also includes a provision blocking public access to the names of people with permits to carry and purchase weapons.
     The bill also would allow purchases of suppressors to silence firearm.
     People now must be at least 14 to use a pistol or revolver. Windschitl says the limit should be removed, leaving the choice to parents.
     Most discussion at the hearing was about the public access questions. Windschitl says the change would protect residents' privacy. The Iowa Newspaper Association says the public has a right to such records.

 

Democratic Senators Wanting To Expand Medical Marijuana

(Des Moines) --  Several members of the Iowa Senate on Tuesday released an Iowa proposal for medical cannabis reform.  If it becomes law, the legislation would allow Iowans who suffer from specific chronic diseases and are under the care of a doctor to purchase medical cannabis products produced in Iowa from licensed dispensaries.

Democratic Senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo says, “Last year, large bipartisan majorities in Iowa Legislature approved Iowa’s first medical cannabis program, Unfortunately, that legislation has so far not helped a single Iowa family.  Dotzler says Iowans deserve to have full access to the same medicines already available to the majority of all Americans.  Twenty-three other states have shown this can be done in a responsible, medically sound way.”   

Senate Study Bill 1243 expands the conditions eligible for medicines made from cannabis to eight.  They include cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, AIDS/HIV, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, Crohn’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  

Once an Iowa doctor certifies that an Iowan suffers from one of these diseases, that person would become eligible to purchase medical cannabis products from dispensaries licensed by the state of Iowa.

 

Ankeny Mother With Rare Set Of Twins Must Remain In Hospital

ANKENY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa mother pregnant with a rare set of twins must spend six more weeks at the hospital before the babies are born.
     Amanda Kuhl, of Ankeny, has already spent two weeks at Mercy Medical Center as she awaits her pregnancy's 32-week mark. At that point, a Caesarean section will be performed to deliver her monoamniotic twins who are sharing the amniotic sac and placenta, but have separate umbilical cords.
     Dr. Michael Cardwell, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, says such pregnancies happen in one out of every 35,000 cases. He says this type of pregnancy requires constant monitoring of the mother and the babies, particularly because the twins have a shared blood supply.
     Kuhl says despite the stressful situation, she enjoys listening to her daughters' heartbeats every day.

 

Iowa DOT Pays For Dog Causing Accident

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Officials with the Iowa Department of Transportation say they're still unsure why the agency's first drug-sniffing dog jumped out of a truck window in October and fled into traffic.
     Earlier this week, the Iowa Appeal Board approved a $1,323 payout for damages to the owners of the vehicle that struck and killed the 2-year-old Belgian Malinois named Sara. The Oct. 8 incident was ruled an accident.
     David Lorenzen, chief of the department's motor vehicle enforcement division, says Sara had been added to the department about a year before her death following a rigorous selection process. He says she was trained not to jump and may have done so out of fear.
     The department has since replaced Sara with another Belgian Malinois named Storm.

 

Grinnell College Ask Federal Investigators To Look At Sexual Abuse Cases

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Facing scrutiny over its practices for responding to sexual assault, a liberal arts college in Iowa has taken the unusual step of asking federal investigators to review whether three cases were handled appropriately.
     Grinnell College President Raynard Kington asked the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to determine whether the college complied with Title IX, the federal law that bars sex discrimination in education.
     The office praised the request Tuesday as a sign of progress toward addressing campus sexual violence, while a student group called it a public relations move to get ahead of a complaint that had already been filed.
     While Kington's motives will be debated, American Association of University Women vice president Lisa Maatz says the request is novel and intriguing.

 


 
 



 

 

   

Tuesday Afternoon News, March 3

Plymouth Energy Asks Supervisors For Support On Repealing Tax

(Le Mars) -- Representatives of the Plymouth Energy ethanol company appeared before the county supervisors to ask for their support to help reduce taxes relating to the purchase of natural gas.  Eamonn Byrne, the Chief Executive Officer for Plymouth Energy informed the county supervisors that natural gas is the second largest expense, following corn, for the Merrill facility.  He says $7 million dollars is spent annually for natural gas.  Byrne informed the supervisors that 21 ethanol and biodiesel plants in Iowa are subject to the tax and wanting to eliminate the Iowa Bypass Replacement Tax.  He says the tax is an "unfair tax" and explains the difference between the three types of natural gas replacement taxpayers.

Listen to

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Byrne says the tax rate is too excessive.

Listen to

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Byrne says Plymouth Energy contributes to the county's economic development with the number of people employed directly or indirectly to the local ethanol plant.

Listen to

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The supervisors agreed to write a letter of support for the local ethanol plant, and advised the ethanol representatives that the letters should be addressed to Governor Terry Branstad and many other legislative leaders.

 

Cherokee Man Agrees To Plea Deal

 CHEROKEE, Iowa (AP) - A 36-year-old man who'd held officers at bay in a Cherokee County home has taken a plea deal.
      Joshua Allender pleaded guilty on Monday to intimidation with a dangerous weapon and assault on a peace officer. He'd been charged with attempted murder, assault and a weapons crime. 
     The plea agreement calls for a 10-year sentence. Allender's sentencing is scheduled for April 13.
     The charges stem from an incident Oct. 30 in Cherokee County, when officers responded to a call about a suicidal person. The officers say Allender refused to leave the home and fired a gun from an upstairs window. 
     More than six hours later officers fired tear gas into the home, and Allender soon was in custody.
     ---

 

Legislators Continue To Debate Over Education Spending Bill

     DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers from the Democratic-majority Senate and Republican-controlled House remain at odds over education funding.
     A joint committee met Tuesday to try to hammer out a deal for a funding level for K-12 education for the upcoming academic year. But the committee did not immediately reach a resolution.
     House Republicans have advanced a plan that would provide about $100 million in additional funding, while Senate Democrats want to give schools over $200 million in additional funding.
     Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, of Hiawatha, says he'll consider more funding if Democrats would agree to modify arbitration rules for teachers. This committee cannot directly negotiate on that, but a bill proposing some changes received approval from a House subcommittee Tuesday. Democrats are unlikely to consider any change to union rules.
 

Legislators Debate Time-Off Caucus Bill

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that would require employers to give time off to non-essential workers so they could attend Iowa's presidential caucuses has received preliminary approval in the Iowa Senate.
     A Senate subcommittee backed the bill Tuesday.  Under the proposal, employers would be required to provide unpaid leave to workers who want to attend their precinct caucus. There are exemptions for jobs that impact public health or safety or if employers could show they would experience economic distress. 
     It will move on to the full committee for review later this week in the Democratic-majority Senate.
     Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director Ben Foecke spoke in favor of the bill, saying it would provide greater access to the state's leadoff presidential caucuses. No Iowa Republican Party officials attended the hearing.

 

Judge Ponders Whether To Fine A Man For Frauding Veterans

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A judge is considering whether to sentence a Nebraska businessman to prison for fraudulently landing $23.4 million in federal contracts intended for disabled veterans.
     The U.S. Attorney's Office in Des Moines will ask for a two-year prison term during Tuesday's sentencing for Ram Hingorani. 
     Hingorani's attorney is expected to ask U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose for probation.
     His companies won 45 contracts to perform construction work for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Des Moines and Omaha and at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. They were awarded under a program to encourage contracts for veterans who were injured during their service.
     Hingorani is not a veteran. But in order to qualify, he falsely claimed that an associate who was service-disabled was in charge of a company Hingorani controlled.

 

Kindergarten Teacher Faces Sexual Abuse Charges

 FOREST CITY, Iowa (AP) - A north Iowa kindergarten teacher is facing a criminal charge following accusations he inappropriately touched a child under the age of 14.  
     Winnebago County Attorney Adam Sauer says the suspected incident didn't happen at the elementary school of the North Iowa Community School District, where 61-year-old Allen James Twait of Forest City is employed.
     The district's superintendent says Twait has been placed on administrative leave.
     Twait is charged with one count of lascivious acts with a child. He was arrested Saturday and was released from the Winnebago County Jail after posting a $10,000 cash bond. 
     It wasn't immediately clear if Twait has an attorney. A phone listing for Twait could not be found on Tuesday morning.
     ---

 

 

 

 

   

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