Wednesday Afternoon News, January 8
Soderberg Talks About Upcoming Legislative Session
(Le Mars) -- State lawmakers will return to Des Moines next week for the start of the General Assemby legislative session. State Representative, Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars says he anticipates the state legislature will focus on funding the programs that were approved last year. He says last year's session was historical for since the legislators passed an education reform bill, and a property tax relief bill.
Soderberg and State Senator Bill Anderson will hold a series of legislative forums scheduled for Saturday. Soderberg says the forums are to listen to constituents' concerns and issues, and to report back to the public the actions of the state legislature.
Branstad Has Modest Expectations Of Legislative Session
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says he is setting modest expectations for the legislative session this year.
Speaking Wednesday at The Associated Press' annual legislativeseminar, Branstad said he will unveil proposals next week dealing withbullying, Internet access and support for veterans. Those items will bereleased along with his budget plan.
Last year Branstad and lawmakers reached bipartisan agreements on anambitious set of policies. They approved a property tax cut, new educationspending and an expansion of low-income health care. Branstad andlegislative leaders cautioned that they were not expecting the same kindof results this year.
It is an election year for many lawmakers, meaning they will likely want to conclude work quickly and get on the campaign trail. Branstad is also expected to run for re-election.
Supreme Court Acts On Sioux City Casino Dispute
(Sioux City) -- THE IOWA SUPREME COURT HAS SENT A DECISION ON A STAY AGAINST THE LICENSE ISSUED TO SIOUX CITY ENTERTAINMENT FOR A HARD ROCK CASINO BACK TO STATE DISTRICT COURT.
THE SUPREME COURT HAS ORDERED A HEARING ON POLK COUNTY JUDGE ROBERT HANSEN'S STAY AGAINST THE NEW CASINO TO BE HELD BY FEBRUARY 15TH.
THAT HEARING WILL DETERMINE IF JUDGE HANSEN HAD THE AUTHORITY TO ISSUE THE STAY AND ALSO POTENTIALLY SPEED UP FUTURE COURT ACTION REGARDING THE CASINO ISSUE.
PENN NATIONAL GAMING, WHICH OPERATES THE ARGOSY BELLE RIVERBOAT CASINO, HAD OBTAINED THE STAY AGAINST THE HARD ROCK LICENSE.
THE SUPREME COURT'S TEMPORARY STAY OF THE DISTRICT COURT RULING WILL REMAIN IN EFFECT
Local Pork Producer Comments On Smithfield Foods Policy
(Le Mars) -- Smithfield Foods, the nation's largest pork producer and owner of John Morrell, a major processor of pork, is recomending that its contract growers phase out the use of gestation and farrowing stalls for female pregnant hogs. The company wants to see the elimination of gestation stalls by the year 2022. Bill Tentinger, a Le Mars pork producer and former president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, says the topic has been discussed in the past. Tentinger says Smithfield Foods, and others are implementing the policy because they are feeling the pressure from animal rights groups, who advocate a more open environment for the pregnant hogs. The Plymouth County Pork Producer says the animal rights groups don't seem to understand, the use of gestation and farrowing stalls is better for the pigs welfare.
Tentinger believes if animal rights groups are able to dictate the manner in which hogs are raised, he believes ultimately, it will mean a higher mortality rate of pigs, and fewer hogs, which will also mean higher food costs.
Tulip Festival Executive Director Selected
(Orange City) -- The Orange City Chamber of Commerce and the Tulip Festival Executive Committee have hired Juliana Pennings as the Tulip Festival and Community Tourism Director. Pennings, a life-long Orange City resident is a 2012 graduate of Northwestern College with a degree in Public Relations. She holds marketing and event planning experience with Northwestern College, Sanford's Children Miracle Network, Easter Seals, and Seasons Center for Behavioral Health. Pennings has also worked with the marketing branch of the Tulip Steering Committee for four years, and was the Tulip Festival queen in 2009.
Hawarden Man Sentenced To Ten Years For Methamphetamine And Marijuana
(Orange City) -- A Hawarden man has been sentenced to ten years in prison for the delivery of methamphetamine and posession of marijuana. 23 year old Leopoldo Martinez was sentenced in Sioux County District Court. The case arose on October 20th when officers with the Hawarden Police Department and the Sioux County Sheriff's office conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in Hawarden. Martinez was a passenger in the vehicle. Officers found packaged methamphetamines in the vehicle. Officers acquired a search warrant for Martinez home and found marijuana. Martinez admitted to possessing the marijuana and to having delivered the methamphetamine to another person.
Sioux City Park Official Concerned About Ash Borer
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A city official says Sioux City can expect up to $11 million in damage when the insect killer of ash trees reaches the northwest Iowa city.
Parks maintenance field supervisor Kelly Bach told the City Council on Monday that it's just a matter of time before the emerald ash borer beetle is found in Sioux City. Bach says ash trees account for nearly a third of Sioux City's trees.
State officials said last month that an emerald ash borer had been found in a residential tree in the southwestern Iowa city of Creston. It's the fifth location in Iowa where the beetle has been found. The Creston sighting was the first in western Iowa.
Grassley Says He Would Approve Unemployment Extension If Congress Can Pay For It
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley says he supports a federal extension of unemployment benefits as long as the money is found to pay for it.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call Wednesday, Grassley says he voted no Tuesday on a procedural issue determining whether the issue would move forward because there were no assurances the measure would be funded. A majority of Senators voted to move the issue forward and another vote on the extension is expected Wednesday evening.
Grassley says he'll vote yes if the extension is paid for otherwise he will not support it.
Democrats, backed by the White House, and Republicans remain sharply divided over whether the cost of the $6.4 billion program extension should be added to the deficit or paid for with spending cuts.
Iowa Sets Record For Biodiesel Production
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa set a record for production of biodiesel last year reaching 230 million gallons.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol and biodiesel trade group says Iowa's production of biodiesel was up 25 percent last year from 2012 when the previous record was set at 184 million gallons.
Biodiesel is primarily used to power fleet vehicles for government agencies, military, and commercial trucks.
Iowa, the leading producer of biodiesel, accounted for 13.5 percent of the nation's biodiesel production last year. The state has 12 biodiesel refineries with the capacity to produce nearly 315 million gallons annually.
Sixty-eight percent of the biodiesel in Iowa is made from soybean oil and 27 percent comes from animal fats. The remaining 5 percent is made from used cooking oil and other oils.
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