Home News KLEM News for Friday, March 15

KLEM News for Friday, March 15


State and federal candidates who want to be included on the June Primary ballots for Republicans and for Democrats face a 5 p.m. deadline today (Friday) to deliver their nomination petitions to the Secretary of State’s office in Des Moines. Christina Bohannan, a Democrat who’s running in Iowa’s first congressional district, has submitted over a thousand more signatures on her nominating petitions than were required.

Bohannan ran against Republican Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks in 2022 and lost by less than seven points, so this race is destined to be a rematch in the 2024 General Election. Miller-Meeks submitted her nominating petitions on February 26th, the first day in the filing period.

Beyond the candidates running for seats in the U-S House of Representatives, candidates for seats in the state legislature must submit their nominating petitions by 5 p.m. today (Friday) as well. House Speaker Pat Grassley says most of the Republicans currently serving in the Iowa House are seeking reelection.

The deadline has now passed for state and federal candidates who want to be included on the June Primary ballots for Republicans and for Democrats. Candidates had a 5 p.m. deadline today (Friday) to deliver their nomination petitions to the Secretary of State’s office in Des Moines.
Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley says most of the Republicans currently serving in the Iowa House are seeking reelection.Republicans hold 64 of the 100 seats in the chamber.
House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst says Democrats have a good chance of gaining seats because the G-O-P agenda is lacking.

In the state senate, Republicans hold a 34-seat super majority. Senate G-O-P Leader Jack Whitver says Republican candidates have been recruited in four senate districts currently held by Democrats, but areas where Governor Kim Reynolds and Donald Trump have done well in the past.

Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum says Democrats can do well in the 2024 election because Republicans are ignoring what’s most important to Iowans.



Jochum has developed a plan she says will help Democrats make progress over the next three elections and regain a majority of state senate seats in the 2030 election. Jochum is not seeking reelection this year after serving in the legislature since 1993.


Updated population estimates from the U-S Census Bureau show growth in four of Iowa’s metropolitan areas. Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson reports.

The Census Bureau estimates indicate Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and the Waterloo/Cedar Falls metros all had very small population losses. Among all Midwest metros, Des Moines ranked as the fastest growing, ahead of indianapolis and Madison, Wisconsin.



As the Le Mars Community School Board considers facilities plans, a consultant visited with them concerning financing of these projects. Matt Gillespie of Piper Sandler and Company of Des Moines, presented information to the board this week.  Gillespie says there are several ways that LCSD can raise funds for these projects: through sales tax proceeds, through a Physical Plant and Equipment levy, or through approval of General Obligation bonds.  The latter two would affect property taxes in the district, and would require a public vote.  The good news, says Gillespie, is that the district has no debt, so any one of the three options would be viable for these projects.  The bad news is that state law only allows two opportunities per year for public votes on these fund-raising options.  Gillespie says the board will have to carefully consider its timeline for construction to determine when best to place funding issues before the voters.



Republican leaders in the state legislature say they’re open to moving a key deadline for local school officials developing budgets for the next school year. Those budget plans must be done by April 30th, but the House and Senate have not agreed yet on how much state funding schools will get or whether to raise the mandatory minimum salary for teachers. The legislature’s unresolved debate over Area Education Agencies is also a factor. House Speaker Pat Grassley says House Republicans understand and share the frustration about school funding decisions. The House has passed bills outlining its positions on these issues. Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver says the good news for schools is they will get more state support next year and the senate will likely start taking votes next week on school funding issues.


Five years ago this week a flood devastated the Woodbury County town of Hornick. Final repairs still aren’t complete. A leveee broke on the West Branch of the Little Sioux River after a late winter rainstorm. The high water forced the evacuation of all 250 residents there. Hornick Mayor Scott Mitchell says a new berm now protects the town. He says it’s difficult to finalize funding from FEMA to fix roads that were damaged by the flood. The cost has increased in the past two years from two-million dollars to as much as four-million, with FEMA covering 75% of the price. The mayor says the paperwork was a real chore.Mitchell says it’s been a difficult journey to put everything back in place. Mitchell says he is still thankful for the support his town received in cleaning up after the natural disaster. He hopes to have the final repair work done by the end of this year.



A Le Mars Restaurant is competing in a contest sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, and the first round of competition ends this morning.  Luke Larson reports:




A bill to reduce the taxes Iowa businesses pay INTO the state fund that pays OUT unemployment benefits is advancing in the House. Republican Representative Dave Deyoe of Nevada says they’re waiting on a detailed analysis of the bill’s impact. He says they will not adopt the calculations in the bill if the math doesn’t work. Governor Kim Reynolds proposed this tax cut in January. Deyoe says lawmakers want a Legislative Service Agency analysis so they can be assured that when unemployment rises during a recession, business taxes won’t have to be raised to keep the Unemployment Trust Fund solvent.



Senate Democrats are proposing an extension of unemployment benefits for workers at a Perry pork plant who’ll be laid off at the end of June. Tyson announced earlier this week it will close the plant, which employs nearly 1300 people and is Perry’s largest employer. Under current law, those workers would be eligible o up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Democrats in the Senate propose any worker who loses their job due to a plant closure should be eligible for up to 39 weeks of jobless benefits. Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum of Dubuque says it took her hometown years to recover after the Dubuque Packing Company closed in 1982 and legislators need to support Perry as Tyson’s plant closes. The Senate’s Republican leader says he can’t comment on Democrats’ proposal because he hasn’t seen it and hasn’t had a chance to review its impact.



A report places Iowa in the middle of the pack for emergency preparedness — from weather disasters to disease outbreaks to terrorist attacks. Nadine Gracia, president and C-E-O of Trust for America’s Health, says the annual “Ready or Not” report placed 21 states and Washington D-C in the high-performance tier for readiness, Iowa and 12 other states in the middle-performance tier, and 16 states in the bottom tier. Gracia says Iowa had a strong performance for its ability to expand healthcare capacity, as well as public health laboratory capacity in times of emergency. Iowa increased public health funding, a big plus, but lacks accreditation for emergency management. Iowa’s flu vaccination rate is about 50%, while the national target is 70%. Also, only about 9% of Iowa hospitals had an “A” grade for patient safety.



The Ankeny-based Casey’s convenience store chain closed a transaction in the third quarter to enter their 17th state in Texas. Casey’s President and CEO, Darren Rebelez, says they like to have a mix of building new stores along with merging or acquiring existing stores. He says acquiring stores is more attractive now as the cost of construction has gone up. Rebelez says the acquisitions recently have mostly been competitors with under 100 stores as discussions on larger potential deals haven’t gotten over the finish line. Casey’s now has more than 26-hundred stores in 17 states.