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.
Byrne says the tax rate is too excessive.
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.
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.