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Thursday News, March 6

Sioux City Police Arrest Two Juveniles For Convenience Store Robbery

(Sioux City) -- The Sioux City Police Department has arrested two 15 year old juveniles who are accussed of robbing a Kum and Go convenience store located at 2626 Court Street.  The robbery took place on February 20th at about 10:07 p.m. when two suspects entered the store.  Two minutes later, one suspect armed with a large knife again entered the store, while the other one stood outside as a "look out".  Detectives released a video of the robbery on February 27th from surveilance cameras.  Police received many tips from social media and crime stoppers.  The two suspects, identified as Mateo Waldman and Derick Vanderlinde, have been taken into custody and turned over to the Juvenile Dentention Center.


Broken Sewer Line At Storm Lake Reaches Creek

 STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) - A broken sewer line has caused wastewater to reach a small frozen creek in northwest Iowa.
     The state Department of Natural Resources says the ice-filled Outlet Creek below Storm Lake has been affected by a leak discovered Tuesday morning. The line, managed by the Southwest Sanitary District, leads to a wastewater treatment plant. The leak was stopped a short time later.
     A contractor for the city of Storm Lake reported the leak after seeing wastewater flowing under the snow. Officials estimate about 2,000 gallons reached the creek and froze on top of it.
     The wastewater is now frozen solid behind silt fences. The district is working to repair the line, and state officials say they're monitoring the situation.


Lawmakers Agree On Budget Numbers

(Des Moines) -- Republicans and Democrats in the legislature have struck a rare deal, more than a month before the scheduled end of their 2014 session. They already agree on how big the state budget should be and the decision will speed the process according to Representative Chuck Soderberg, a Republican from Le Mars who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

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Senator Bob Dvorsky,a Democrat from Coralville, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Legislators say there hasn't been a budget deal like this, when different parties control the Iowa House and Senate, in recent memory. Democrats and Republicans now agree the overall level of state General Fund spending should be just shy of seven-billion dollars. They've also agreed to provide a budget boost to the state universities so in-state tuition levels can remain the same for the next academic year. In addition, the two parties agree community colleges should see a four percent budget boost. The budget plan Governor Branstad presented to lawmakers in January did not provide additional state support to community colleges. The next state budgeting year begins July 1st. The agreement legislators have drafted is the bottom line spending figure for eight different budget bills. Democrats and Republicans will start meeting today(Thursday) to hammer out all the details for each of those eight bills.


Advocates Of Medical Marijuana Testify At State Capitol

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Patients and medical experts told lawmakers about the positive uses of medical marijuana, arguing the medical community and public could benefit from the drug.
     Relatives of patients with epilepsy and cancer who testified Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee told lawmakers they've exhausted all their options for pain-relieving and seizure-related drugs. They say medical marijuana can ease the side effects of drugs already taken or in ways other drugs cannot.
     Even lawmakers who support medical marijuana legislation has acknowledged it won't pass this session, but Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says he hopes to educate lawmakers on its positive uses and hopefully legalize it next year.


Rhode Island Senator To Speak In Iowa About Climate Change

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A United States senator is coming to Iowa to advocate for action on climate change.
     Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, of Rhode Island, has been a leader in efforts to combat climate change at the national level. He will visit the state Capitol on March 18 to extend his efforts to Iowa.
     Democratic state Sen. Robert Hogg, of Cedar Rapids, invited Whitehouse to Des Moines, saying in a statement that climate change has been harmful to Iowa and that hearing Whitehouse's ideas would help the state.
     Whitehouse's previous environmental action efforts have included co-founding a task force on climate change, organizing educational events in Rhode Island and delivering speeches on the topic on the Senate floor. His trip will include meetings with Iowa lawmakers and environmental activists.


Judge Rules Against Secretary Of State On Voting Eligibility Rules

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A judge says Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz did not have the authority to create a new rule aimed at ridding voter registration rolls of voters who didn't appear to be U.S. citizens.
     Polk County Judge Scott Rosenberg on Wednesday delivered a victory to the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, which sued Schultz over the rule he tried to pass as an emergency just before the November 2012 general election. The proposal was stopped but Schultz then created a permanent rule in March 2013. 
     Rosenberg says in his ruling Wednesday that state law does not authorize Schultz to create a rule that would cancel a voter's registration based on citizenship questions.
     Rosenberg says the rule is stricken and prohibits Schultz from taking any action pursuant to the rule.


Trial For Ex-Felon Voting Rights

 KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) - The trial of an ex-felon charged with illegally voting is expected to showcase Iowa's unusually harsh policies toward voting rights for former offenders.
     Jury selection is scheduled Thursday at the perjury trial for 40-year-old Kelli Jo Griffin.
     Prosecutors say Griffin falsely claimed on a voter registration form last year that she was not an ineligible felon before voting in the municipal election of her town, Montrose. Prosecutors say she'd been disenfranchised by a 2008 felony drug conviction, and Gov. Terry Branstad hadn't restored her rights.
     Iowa is one of four states in which former offenders must apply to the governor to regain their voting rights. A two-year criminal investigation into election misconduct has resulted in several ex-Iowa felons being charged, but Griffin would be the first to have a trial.



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