Home News Friday News, April 23rd

Friday News, April 23rd


State Lawmakers At A Stand-off Regarding Mental Health Funding

(Des Moines) — Mental health funding is getting a lot of attention at the state capitol building. One one side is the Senate who is wanting to have legislation passed that will reform property taxes, and take away the money and the power from the counties and regional mental health system and place it in the hands of the state. The other side is the State House of Representatives who are not as quick to adopt such a system, saying the Senate hasn’t figured out all the necessary details as to how the state would effectively manage a state-wide mental health care program. Currently, county property taxes that are collected funds mental health services. State Representative Dr. Tom Jeneary of Le Mars says the Senate is being too quick to rush into a new program without knowing all the consequences.

Jeneary says the budget for the Health and Human Services account for nearly two billion dollars, or nearly one-quarter of the entire state’s budget.




Nearly Half of Iowa Adults Are Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19

(Des Moines, IA) — The state website tracking Covid-19 vaccinations shows more than 911-thousand Iowans have had both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Iowa Department of Public Health acting director Kelly Garcia said,
“we are very, very close to having nearly half of the adult population vaccinated, fully, in the two-dose series, so that is incredible news for the state.” The number of Iowans who’ve gotten a Covid shot has now surpassed the percentage of Iowans who typically get the seasonal flu shot. Garcia said the
vaccine remains the most powerful tool to turn the page on this pandemic.
Only one Iowa nursing home currently has a virus outbreak and Garcia credits an unprecedented number of residents getting vaccinated. State health officials say nearly 88-thousand Iowans got the one-dose Johnson and Johnson shot.




Iowa House Speaker Says Senate Mental Health Plan Needs More Work

(Des Moines, IA) — House Speaker Pat Grassley says a Senate plan to have the state pay all costs and take over management of the mental health system from regional and county officials needs more work. Senate Republicans want to shift financing of the system from county property taxes to state tax dollars. Grassley said, “I can tell you from the House Republicans’
perspective, this conversation is a bigger conversation from just eliminating a (property tax) levy.” Grassley says they need to have to look at services — “the inequity that may exist with services across the state, some regions offering more than others.” Legislation passed in 2014 maintained county
property taxes as the primary funding source for the mental health system, but created 14 regions in the state that counties joined to pool resources.
Grassley said not all 14 regions provide the same level of service and the Senate G-O-P’s plan doesn’t provide enough details about how the state would manage the system, only how it would pay for it.




ACLU Sues State Of Iowa Over Denied Medicaid Coverage For Gender-Affirming Surgeries

(Des Moines, IA) — The A-C-L-U of Iowa is suing the state over its law that denies Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgeries. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of transgender Iowans Aiden Vasquez. His doctors have given their approval of surgery as a treatment for his gender dysphoria. The A-C-L-U argues denial of coverage is unconstitutional. The is
the second time the group has sued. The first time it challenged the law, two years ago, the suit was dismissed because appeals hadn’t been exhausted yet.




Algona Man On Probation For 4 Years For Shooting Shotgun At Another Person

(Pocahontas, IA) –– A Pocahontas County District judge has suspended the 10-year sentence he gave a man for shooting a short-barreled shotgun at another person. If Joshua J. Schmidt completes four years of probation the sentence will be dismissed. Schmidt had entered a guilty plea to a felony charge of
going armed with intent. He was also sentenced for escaping the Pocahontas County Jail last September. He was captured after two days. When the 18-year-old Schmidt fired the weapon, he missed the target, then ran away.




Iowa DOT Driver Seriously Hurt in Dubuque County Crash

(Peosta, IA) — The driver of an Iowa Department of Transportation vehicle has life-threatening injuries after a crash involving a cement truck in Dubuque County. Deputies say the collision happened around 7:30 this morning (Thursday) on Highway 20 in Peosta. The DOT driver was taken to a local
hospital and then airlifted to U-I Hospitals and Clinics. The cement truck driver wasn’t hurt. The D-O-T worker hasn’t been identified. The incident is still under investigation.




Mistrial Declared In Des Moines Triple-Murder Case

(Des Moines, IA) — Polk County Judge David Porter has declared a mistrial in the triple-murder case against Marvin Esquivel Lopez. The prosecution didn’t object after the jury said members were “very far apart” on the murder charges he faced in the deaths of two children. Esquivel-Lopez is accused of
killing Rossibeth Flores-Rodriguez, her 11-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. They were shot inside his Des Moines home in 2019. Esquivel-Lopez claimed the woman told him -she- killed her children. The mistrial doesn’t result in the charges being dismissed. The prosecution can try the case again.




Neighbors Say They’re Not Getting Much Info About Plans For Huge Solar Farm

(Palo, IA) — Linn County neighbors say they’re not getting much information about plans for a 35-hundred acre solar farm. New Era Energy wants to re-purpose the Duane Arnold Nuclear power plant property in Palo. The company says the project would mean 300 new jobs during construction and would produce 690 megawatts of power by 2023. One homeowner says she first learned about the project through a community Facebook group and has never received any information from the company. A new Facebook page called “Not in our Backyards!” has about 400 members. A petition has been started by those who are in opposition.




Industrial Hemp Licenses Available For Growers in Iowa’s Second Year

(Des Moines, IA) — The Iowa Department of Agriculture says licenses are now available for the second year of industrial hemp growing. Robin Pruisner oversees the program and says they have an online system that potential growers can use. Pruisner says they are continuing to build out the software program where growers can do their planting reports online and pre-harvest notifications. Pruisner says they now have the final federal rules and that will bring some changes. Last year once the crop was tested, growers had just 15 days to harvest everything. Now under the U-S-DA, they have 30 days. The
hemp has to have a T-H-C level of point-three or lower to be acceptable.
Pruisner says they issued 86 temporary licenses in 2020 and 70 to 75 grew hemp. The application deadline is May 1st.