Tuesday Afternoon News, February 18
Sitzmann Takes Oath Of Office As New County Treasurer
(Le Mars)-- With the swearing in of the oath of office, Shelly Sitzmann is the new Plymouth County treasurer. Sitzmann was appointed to the position during the Plymouth county Board of Supervisor meeting held this morning at the County courthouse. Sitzmann, a former Senior Operations Officer with the American Bank of Le Mars, will immediately assume the duties of the Plymouth County Treasurer.
ICCI Upset Over Lack Of Enforcement On Environmental Rules
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state commission responsible for overseeing the environment has heard from more than 40 members of the grass-roots environmental group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement at its monthly meeting.
The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission heard 90 minutes of intense criticism from farmers and other rural residents who say the countryside is being inundated with smelly hog farms that spill manure tainting once clean rivers, streams, and lakes.
Speakers called on commissioners to require stepped up farm inspections, permits under the federal Clean Water Act, and increased fines. Many told the 9-member commission it was failing to fulfill its responsibilities.
Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp says many facts mentioned are incorrect. He says Iowa could do more to clean up its water and the state is working on it.
State Senate Approves State Run Healthcare Exchange
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers in the Iowa Senate have granted preliminary approval to legislation creating a state-based health insurance marketplace.
The bill won subcommittee approval Tuesday. Under the proposal, the state would establish an online exchange run by a nonprofit agency by the beginning of 2016.
Iowa currently has a partnership exchange with the federal government where consumers can shop for health insurance and apply for federal aid to pay for benefits. The bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch, says that arrangement will expire by 2016. He says a state-run exchange could be more cost effective and provide more flexibility.
The bill moves next to the full Commerce Committee in the Democratic-majority Senate. Hatch says he isn't sure if the bill will be supported in the Republican-controlled House.
Legislators Discuss Radon Testing For Schools
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers have begun discussing a bill requiring radon testing in schools across the state.
Members of a Senate education subcommittee approved the measure Tuesday on a two-to-one vote, with the two Democrats voting in favor and the one Republican opposing the legislation. It now goes to the full Senate Education Committee Wednesday.
The bill would require school districts to carry out radon testing in all buildings where students and teachers are regularly present by June 30, 2016. School boards must then address the situation if high radon levels are found.
Democratic Sen. Tod Bowman, who chairs the committee, says the bill is a work in progress. He says funding sources for the mandated testing will be addressed in future amendments.
Similar legislation is being considered in the House.
Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced But Has Little Support
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill to legalize medical marijuana has been introduced in the Iowa Senate, but supporters say it will not advance this year because of a lack of bipartisan support.
Democratic Sen. Joe Bolkcom, of Iowa City, says he needs both Republicans and Democrats from the state House and Senate to support the bill. So far, he says the GOP members have shown little interest in publicly endorsing the legislation.
Under the measure, patients with certain medical conditions could obtain medical marijuana if they got a prescription from a physician and receive authorization from the state.
Parents of children with epilepsy spoke in favor of the bill at a news conference Tuesday, saying that in other states children with similar conditions had found relief taking marijuana in an oil form.
Tiger Dies At Blank Park Zoo
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Officials at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines say a 15-year-old tiger has died of heart failure.
The zoo announced Tuesday that the male Amur tiger, named Kavacha, died after a brief illness.
The tiger was born at the Indianapolis Zoo in 1998 and moved to the Des Moines zoo in 2001.
The zoo says Amur tigers are the largest of the great cats. They can eat more than 10 pounds of meat a day.
The animals have a life expectancy of 16 years.
There are believed to be only about 350 Amur tigers remaining in the wild.
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