Hundreds Gather For Iowa State Patrol Trooper’s Funeral
(Independence) — A large crowd gathered Friday in the Independence high school gym for the funeral of an Iowa State Trooper who was shot to death a week ago during a stand-off with an armed man in Grundy Center. For more than
half an hour, officers from all over the country saluted as they filed by Sergeant Jim Smith’s flag-draped casket. Paul Heppner, interim pastor at Smith’s church in Jesup, spoke of the trooper’s faith to start the service.
Hepner called Smith “the real deal.”
Colonel Nathan Fulk, chief of the Iowa State Patrol, called Smith a selfless leader.
As is customary, a final radio call for Smith was played to conclude the service.
Smith, who was 51, leaves behind a wife, a daughter and a son. Smith’s family has established a memorial fund to finance a scholarship in his name.
(funeral photo courtesy of the Cedar Rapids Gazette)
Le Mars Man Arrested For Arson Charges
(Le Mars) — Le Mars Police Officers along with the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department are investigating a fire that was intentionally set at an apartment complex Friday evening. The fire was reported at about 9:38 p.m. at 310 12th Street Southeast, Apartment C. Upon arrival at the apartment complex, Le Mars Police officers had learned that 25 year old Patrick Van Noort had allegedly started the apartment on fire then fled the area in a vehicle. Van Noort was one of the residents of the apartment. Le Mars firefighters quickly determined that no one else was in the apartment. Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the other residents living in the other apartments were evacuated as firefighters put out the fire. A master bedroom in the apartment suffered fire, heat, smoke and water damage. At approximately 10:56 p.m. Van Noort was located in Hawarden and was taken into custody by the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office. The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office then transported Van Noort back to the Plymouth County Jail in Le Mars to be held on the Class B felony charge of First Degree Arson. Le Mars Police Department was assisted by the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office, Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department, and the Le Mars Ambulance Service.
Firefighters Perform Controlled Burn Saturday Morning
(Le Mars) — You may have noticed a large plum of smoke this morning coming from the southwest portion of town near the Wells Enterprises corporate offices. Not to worry. Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire department was asked to conduct a control burn on the conservation reserve acres grassland near the area. Schipper estimates firefighters will conclude the control burn sometime around 11:00 a.m. this morning.
Congresswoman Hinson Calls For US Capitol Fence to Come Down
(Washington, DC) — Freshman Congresswoman Ashley Hinson is calling for the fencing around the U-S Capitol to come down. The Iowa Republican says, “this is the people’s House and the people, the taxpayers, pay for these facilities.” Hinson said, “…quite frankly, for a long time it was easier to get across the border illegally than it was to come to work at the Capitol.”
Security fencing was installed after the U-S Capitol riot on January 6th. The security fencing around the building where her D-C office is located has been removed. She says she feels safe coming to work. A Capitol Policeman was killed earlier this month as he stopped a lone attacker at the security perimeter that remains in place around the Capitol.
Ames Police Officer Pleads Not Guilty In High-Speed Chase
(Nevada, IA) — An Ames police officer charged in a high-speed chase is pleading not guilty. Jason Eaton is charged with drunken driving, speeding, and eluding. The Iowa State Patrol says Eaton was driving 126 miles per hour the wrong way on Highway 30 last month and refused to pull over. He’s been suspended from duty. His trial is set for June 10th.
Pay Equity Bill Co-Sponsored By Representative Axne Passes House
(Washington, DC) — Congresswoman Cindy Axne is co-sponsoring a pay equity bill that cleared the U-S House Thursday. The Iowa Democrat says it would provide women new tools to fight wage discrimination in their workplace. Axne
said, “more than five decades after we passed the Equal Pay Act, we’re still only making 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man.” She notes the pay gap is even wider for Black and Latino women. Axne said data show women, especially working moms, were pushed out of the workforce during the pandemic
and the bill addresses some of the loopholes that preserve the gap between what women and men earn.
“Scouting For Food” Happening On Saturday
(Sioux City) — Local Boy Scouts will be going door to door today “Scouting For Food.” District Director Dan Locke says it’s the scouts annual effort to collect for the food bank of Siouxland.
Locke says its the biggest service project of the year for the scouts, and very rewarding to help.
Jacob Wanderscheid, the Siouxland Food Bank Director, says the effort help fulfill the local need for food assistance.
The scouts will pick up cans and boxes of food in bags from your porch or steps today. They ask that you do not place glass container products in the bags. Scouts will also be at both the Le Mars Hy Vee store and the Le Mars Fareway store this morning collecting donated food items. The collected food in Le Mars will go to the Christian Needs Center.
(photo from 2020 food drive event.)
Lawmaker Believes Legislative Session May Go Beyond Scheduled Deadline Of April 30th
(Des Moines) — The Iowa Legislature is winding down to its last few weeks before the session comes to a conclusion. April 30th is the scheduled deadline and last day, however, State Representative Dr. Tom Jeneary of Le Mars isn’t certain that lawmakers will complete their work before the deadline. Jeneary says a great deal of the work from this past week was
focused on the budget and trying to reach compromises between the House chamber and the Senate chamber.
Jeneary says this past week was an active week in the state house where a controversial “Back the Blue” bill was passed.
The Republican lawmaker talks about other components with the bill.
Another bill passed by the Iowa House this week dealt with allowing parents to be certified in teaching their children to drive and allowing the children to obtain a driver’s license without necessarily having to complete a driver’s education course.
State Senator Jeff Taylor
I was happy to meet the Orange City Tulip Festival Queen and her Court at the Capitol on Wednesday, April 14. It was my honor to introduce them to the Iowa Senate. Congratulations to Queen Grace Dahl and to her Court: Elsie Bartels, Laura Beltman, Maci Brenneman, and Lindsey Jacobsma. Leanne Bonnecroy and Amber Leusink accompanied the girls. The Tulip Festival is coming up May 13-15. For more information, see: https://www.octulipfestival.com/.
This week the first bill I’ve sponsored reached the floor of the Iowa Senate. SF 561 would re-establish a cold case unit within the Division of Criminal Investigation to take another look at serious unsolved crimes. In addition to myself, Sen. Tim Goodwin (R), Sen. Todd Taylor (D), and Sen. Kevin Kinney (D) spoke in support of the bill. It passed 46-0. Senate leadership has told me that funding for two FTE cold case agents will be built into our budget. Hopefully the House will pass SF 561.
Throughout the fourteenth week of session, the Senate debated bills, moved several appointments from the governor to boards and commissions, and advanced budget bills out of the Appropriations Committee. The Senate has proposed a budget of $7.99 billion for the next fiscal year. This amount includes increases for education, public safety, and mental health funding.
For years, passing responsible and sustainable budgets has been a focus in the Senate. It is a priority to conservatively allocate the funds the state has available, allow departments to plan their budgets accordingly, and also prepare the state budget to weather difficult times. These principles drive our budget decisions and this perspective is the reason our state government is in such a strong position today.
Under the Senate’s budget proposal, spending would increase $193 million above the previous year. This amount puts the projected ending balance at over $600 million and over $330 million will be in the Taxpayer Trust Fund. Some of the most important pieces of the Senate’s budget proposal include over $55 million for K-12 education, close to $100 million for health care, and an increase of over $17 million for public safety.
Another important part of this budget are tax relief measures. This year the Senate has passed several tax relief policies to help Iowa families and small businesses. We passed legislation guaranteeing implementation of the next round of tax cuts specified in the 2018 tax bill, eliminating the mental health property tax levy, and phasing out the inheritance tax in Iowa. The only way these tax reforms are possible is because of the strong financial position of the state budget. Tax relief for hard-working families is a priority for Senate Republicans, especially after a year when many Iowans can use some extra money in their pockets and accounts.
As the Senate moves forward with our budget proposals, I look forward to continuing discussions with the House of Representatives on passing the state budget for next year and ensuring tax relief for Iowans.