SUPERVISORS DISCUSS BUDGETS
Plymouth County precinct election officials will get a pay raise under a resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors this morning. At the request of the county Auditor, the Supervisors approved a 50-cent per hour pay raise for Precinct Election Officials, to 12 dollars per hour, plus mileage. Compensation for the Chair and Co-Chair was increased from 20 to 25 dollars per election, and pay for Precinct Election Runners was kept at a rate of 20 dollars per hour, plus mileage.
The final Crop Advantage Series for northwest Iowa producers is underway today at the Le Mars Convention Center. ISU Extension Agronomist Gentry Sorenson is hosting the event.
A variety of topics are to be covered today.
Breakout sessions deal with specific topics that are helpful to farmers.
U OF I PROF: IT’S TIME FOR THE US GOVERNMENT TO DO OUR TAXES FOR US
With the tax filing season now underway, a University of Iowa accounting professor suggests America adopt what’s being done in many European countries, where the government prepares your taxes for you — for free. Professor Ryan Wilson says our current electronic filing process is automated, so it wouldn’t be a great stretch for the I-R-S to go the next step and prepare our taxes, too. Wilson says a program called ReadyReturn is already being used in nations including the U-K, Denmark, Sweden, and Spain, where the government prepares its citizens’ taxes. He says the program is simple and it’s successful. Essentially, the government sends you a completed return and if you’re in agreement with it, you can sign it and send it back. The deadline to file our federal tax returns is April 15th, while state taxes are due April 30th.
BOUNCING INTO A POTHOLE COULD QUICKLY RING UP A BIG REPAIR BILL
With the freeze-thaw cycle underway, many Iowa roads are pockmarked by potholes and avoiding them is almost impossible for motorists. Triple-A-Iowa spokesman Brian Ortner says if you haven’t done any basic preventive maintenance on your car lately, you might want to check your tires for pressure and tread depth, as well as your suspension and alignment. Suddenly swerving to miss a pothole might cause a collision, so Ortner suggests you scan the pavement for a problem and maneuver to avoid it — before you’re on top of it. Replacing a wheel and tire combination can run several hundred dollars, and suspension damage, like to shocks, struts or tie rods, could quickly bounce into the one-thousand dollar range.
YOUNGER TEENS DRIVE TO AND FROM SCHOOL AND WORK
Iowa law lets teenagers start driving themselves to and from school or to work on a farm when they’re 14-and-a-half. A bill ready for debate in a senate committee would let teens drive themselves to any kind of job if they’re at least 14 and a half years old. Republican Senator Adrian Dickey of Packwood says the proposal comes out of a study that also recommends suspending drivers’ licenses for minors who get traffic tickets or cause accidents. Chaney Yeast, a lobbyist for Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, says research shows there’s a difference in the capability of teen drivers and letting even younger teens drive to and from work creates a greater risk. The bill would set a new limit for driving to school — or work — of 25 miles or 50 miles round trip. It also says a minor would have to be done driving with an hour after school activities or their workday ends.
POET AND SUMMIT PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCED
Biorefiner POET and Summit Carbon Solutions announced a partnership connecting the world’s largest biofuel producer with the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project. The partnership incorporates POET’s 12 facilities in Iowa, including one in Ashton in Osceola County, and five facilities in South Dakota, including (Hudson into the Summit project. This addition will facilitate the capture, transportation, and permanent storage of 4.7 million metric tons of CO2 annually from the 17 POET bioprocessing plants. The plants in South Dakota will be included in an upcoming state application. Meanwhile, for the plants in Iowa, separate applications will be filed. This structured approach allows Summit to efficiently expand our project scope while adhering to local regulations and needs.
TAYLOR ON TAXES
One of Governor Reynolds’ priorities outlines in the Condition of the State Address is revamping Area Education Agencies. Iowa Second District State Senator Jeff Taylor of Sioux Center says the governor recently added an amendment to her bill concerning who has control over funds for providing special education services.
Schools can decide who they want to provide special education services.
Senator Taylor says his constituents do not support the bill.
Senator Taylor also does not support the bill, because it shifts control over services away from the local AEAs, and places in question the ability of AEAs to deliver services in the future.
BILL WOULD CRACK DOWN ON DRIVERS IN THE LEFT LANE OF HIGHWAYS
A bill ready for debate in the Iowa Senate Transportation Committee sends a message to drivers who linger in the left hand lane of highways with four or six lanes of traffic. Senator Mike Klemish, the committee’s chairman, says the left hand lane is for passing other vehicles.
After July 1st of 2025, someone could be fined 135 dollars for staying in the left hand lane too long, but until then, the bill calls for law enforcement to issue warnings for the behavior. Klemish says as he drove to Des Moines one day, he encountered two vehicles on Highway 20 that stayed in the left lane too long.
In 2019 and 2020, Iowa lawmakers discussed but did not pass bills to penalize drivers who loiter in the left lane. MOST states have laws saying drivers should generally stay in the right hand lane and use the left lane for passing. However, sustained driving in the left lane carries a 120 dollar fine in Illinois and in Minnesota it’s 125 dollars. Drivers in Missouri can be charged with improper passing and charged a fine of just over 80 dollars.
STUDY: IOWA LAGS BEHIND OTHER STATES IN EFFORTS TO PROMOTE READING
State policies in Iowa should do more to promote reading, according to a new report comparing reading laws around the country. The National Council for Teacher Quality found Iowa’s standards in that area are weaker than most other states. Council executive director Heather Peske says it’s appropriate that Iowa lawmakers are now proposing changes. She says one thing Iowa should do is list phonics and other core components of the science of reading as part of education standards. Peske also says the state should publish a list of the best reading curriculum. Peske says another place where Iowa could improve is in the licensing standards for elementary teachers. She says teaching candidates should have to pass a stronger exam to test their knowledge of how to put research on reading into practice.
ORGANIZERS PLANNING THE HILLIEST RAGBRAI RIDE IN 2024
This summer’s 51st running of the statewide bicycle ride will take a southern route. Organizers say it’ll be the hilliest RAGBRAI ever, with more than 18-thousand feet of climb, including daily climbs for cyclists of at least 3,000 feet. Perhaps to compensate, the ride will also be 434 miles, making it the eighth shortest route. Running July 21st through the 27th, RAGBRAI will start in Glenwood this year and end in Burlington, with overnight stops in Red Oak, Atlantic, Winterset, Knoxville, Ottumwa and Mount Pleasant.