Iowa Attorney General Among 13 Suing Biden Administration Over Relief Money
(Birmingham, AL) — Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is among 13 attorneys general suing the Biden administration over rules on how federal stimulus funding is spent by the states. The case was filed Wednesday in a federal court in Alabama. The states are challenging a rule that keeps them from
using some of the COVID relief money to offset tax cuts. The coalition is worried that provision can define any tax cut as taking advantage of those pandemic relief funds. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin has said the provision isn’t meant as a blanket prohibition on tax cuts.
Two Anamosa State Penitentiary Inmates Formally Charged With Murder
(Anamosa, IA) — Two inmates are Anamosa State Penitentiary are charged with two counts of first-degree murder after a botched escape attempt last month. Thirty-nine-year-old Thomas Woodard and 28-year-old Michael Dutcher are accused of killing a correctional officer and a nurse in the prison infirmary March 23rd. They are also charged with counts of attempted murder
in the assault on an inmate who tried to stop them – and kidnapping for holding a second nurse against her will. Prosecutors say 50-year-old Lorena Schulte and 46-year-old Robert McFarland were beaten to death with hammers.
Three People – Including Parents – Charged In Death Of 5-Month-Old Baby Last Year
(Primghar, IA) — Two parents are among three people charged in the death of a five-month-old baby in O’Brien County. Twenty-year-old Lawrence Ruotolo and 21-year-old Brittanee Baker, both of Sheldon, are facing a charge of child endangerment. Prosecutors say Ruotolo was taking care of his daughter
when he was angered by her crying and assaulted the child. The baby was treated and returned home. The next day she was found not breathing and with no pulse. She died later at a Sioux City hospital. Investigators say Ruotolo, Baker, and 49-year-old Stacie Hurlburt made up a story that the child had been injured by a lamp that had been knocked over by the family’s cats.
Senate Committee Advances Bill Requiring State to Pay For Mental Health Services
(Des Moines, IA) — A bill that shifts the responsibility for financing Iowa’s mental health system cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee and is now eligible for debate in the full Senate. Democratic Senator Joe Bolkcom from Iowa City said ending county property taxpayer support of the system and having the state take over is the wrong step. G-O-P Senator Ken
Rozenboom of Oskaloosa said state tax dollars will be a long-term, stable source for mental health services. The bill also calls for ending state payments to local governments that started several years ago when a state law reduced commercial property taxes.
Authorities in Mason City Continue Search For Additional Human Remains
(Mason City, IA) — Mason City police continue to investigate human remains found on the north shore of the Winnebago River last month. A citizen located clothing and what they believed were human bones on March 11th.
Officers at that time found additional bones in the area. Police Chief Jeff Brinkley said law enforcement was searching the same area today (Thursday) for additional remains. He says his department is working with the Iowa D-C-I and the State Medical Examiner’s Office on identification, which could take several weeks.
March Weather Was Warmer Than Normal
(Des Moines) — Iowa’s weather during March was a far cry from the bitter cold of February. State climatologist Justin Glisan says the state ended the month with an average temperature of 42 degrees, which is six degrees warmer than normal. Precipitation for March, including snow and rain, was also
above-average, with southwest Iowa getting up to an inch more than usual.
While it’s been chilly all week with lows dipping into the 20s, the forecast calls for a warming trend to begin today, with temperatures promising to bound into the 60s and 70s this weekend.
The entire spring season may be trending toward more summer-like weather.
Forecasters say parts of Iowa may reach 80 degrees next week for the first time in 2021 and the first time since last fall.
Businesses Showing Economic Growth Following Pandemic
(Omaha) — The monthly survey of business leaders and supply managers in Iowa and eight other Midwestern states shows a moderate drop in the region’s leading economic indicator for March. The Creighton University survey ranks the economy on a zero-to-100 scale, with 50 being growth neutral. Creighton economist Ernie Goss says it’s the tenth month in a row the region’s been above that growth neutral mark.
Iowa’s business conditions index for March also sank to 66.5, falling from 71.1 in February. The surveys in February and March found about eight in ten manufacturers reported bottlenecks in getting raw materials and supplies from vendors, curtailing what could be even stronger growth. Goss says the impacts of COVID-19 have been long-lasting.
While more Iowans are starting to plan and take vacations, Goss says companies are not as quick to approve travel plans for their employees.
He predicts those industries won’t recover and be back to pre-COVID levels until 2022. Compared to pre-COVID-19 levels, Goss says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Iowa manufacturing employment is down 3,600 jobs, or 1.6%, while average hourly manufacturing wages are 1.8% lower.