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Monday Afternoon News, September 30

Affordable Health Care Starts Tuesday -- Feds Yet To Approve Iowa Plan

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says Iowa residents will be able to sign up for a new low-income health care program starting Tuesday, even though federal authorities have yet to approve the plan.
Branstad says Monday that enrollment will start as planned. The state has applied for a waiver enabling the state to receive more federal Medicaid money for the proposed Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, a new health insurance program.
So far the waiver has not been granted and a sticking point is the use of small premiums for some plan participants.
Under the proposal, the state would take federal funding to create a new health plan for some poor residents and to pay the premiums for other low-income Iowans to get private insurance on the new health care exchanges.


Government Shutdown Could Hurt Iowa National Guard

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa National Guard spokesman says a government shutdown would idle more than 1,000 full-time National Guard employees and halt weekend training missions for thousands of soldiers if it continues into October.
Guard spokesman Col. Greg Hapgood says as of Tuesday about 1,000 workers would be furloughed out of the 2,200 full-time National Guard workers in Iowa.
Weekend soldier training missions also would stop. Thousands of soldiers undergo weekend drills and October is one of the busiest months because many are completing once a year tasks including annual physical fitness qualifications.
Gov. Terry Branstad says a federal government shutdown should have a minimal impact on the state of Iowa. He says all state offices will remain open and any disruptions that could occur would be minimized.


Guard Deployed To Colorado Flooding

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Some Iowa National Guard members are heading west to help Colorado flooding victims.
Five of the guardsmen are leaving today from the Waterloo airport. Others are leaving from Des Moines and the Quad Cities area.
Guard Col. Greg Hapgood says the soldiers include pilots, crew chiefs and aircraft fuelers who will be stationed in Aurora, Colo., for about 10 days. The helicopters are already there.
The massive flooding in the Front Range of the Rockies washed out scores of highways and county roads earlier this month. That raised the need for helicopters to carry medical help to stranded residents or to evacuate injured people


Branstad Defending Decision Not To Release Speeding Report

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is defending his administration's decision to withhold information about how many times law enforcement has checked the license plate of the governor's official vehicle.
Citing Branstad's former public safety commissioner, the Gazette newspaper in Cedar Rapids reported Saturday that the governor's vehicle plates had been run through police databases more than 20 times since 2011.
The Associated Press in July requested information showing when the plate was run. That could show whether the vehicle had been pursued or gotten out of photo-enforced speeding or red light tickets. But after agreeing to the request, the administration later said the data must be kept confidential.
Branstad claimed Monday he cannot release the information under federal law.
Two troopers have been disciplined this year for speeding while transporting Branstad.

Construction Crews Start Renovation Of Nollen Plaza

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Construction crews have begun renovation on a plaza area in downtown Des Moines.
Crews began enclosing Cowles Commons, once known as Nollen Plaza, on Monday. The process should take several days.
Des Moines Performing Arts, which is spearheading the renovation, says demolition of the existing architectural features will begin around mid-October.
The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/1fCPklk ) the renovation project is scheduled to be completed in late 2014. It includes the current fountain being replaced with two interactive fountains.


Former Employee Steals Ice Cream And Cash

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A former employee of an ice cream store has been accused of stealing money, cakes and other treats from the business.
Iowa City Police say 25-year-old Conor P. Fudge entered a downtown Cold Stone Creamery after business hours on Sept. 11 and Sept. 12. Security footage shows him taking money from a safe, as well as cakes and containers of ice cream.
The store owner says Fudge, who stopped working at the business in late August, entered with an unauthorized key. The stolen money and property was estimated at about $500.
Fudge has been charged with third-degree burglary and an aggravated misdemeanor count of third-degree theft. Court records do not list an attorney.

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