Saturday News, April 26
Hinton Fire Department Responds To Grass Fire
(Hinton) -- Last evening at about 7:00 p.m. the Hinton Fire Department was called to a grass fire located at 27738 Fir Avenue. Fire officials were able to bring that fire under control within a half hour.
Hard Rock Casino Ready To Hire Employees
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City will soon start hiring employees.
Officials say they will hire more than 500 people for a variety of positions at the casino and hotel.
The casino's website has a careers section that allows visitors to submit an application. A career center in Sioux City will open Monday and offer a computer terminal.
The estimated $120 million project is scheduled to open this summer. The construction schedule was briefly in jeopardy after the developers' casino license was challenged in court by the owners of the nearby Argosy riverboat casino.
The riverboat casino has been ordered by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to close this summer, but owners say they plan to fight to stay open.
Republicans Gather For District Convention
(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Republicans will join their fellow republicans from northwest Iowa in Storm Lake today, as the political party holds its district convention. Don Kass serves as the co-chair for the Plymouth County Republican party. He anticipates the proposed resolutions at the district convention maybe some of the same resolutions that were voted upon at the county level.
Kass says one of the major functions of the district political convention is to elect delegates to go and serve the interests of the republicans at the state level.
The Plymouth County Republican Party chair says there is likely to be a lot of discussion at the district convention regarding the GOP candidates seeking to be the next Iowa Senator. If a candidate does not obtain at least 35 percent of the popular vote during the primary election which is slated for June 3rd, then the state delegates will decide who will be the candidate. However, Kass is confident that Plymouth County's own Sam Clovis will emerge as the favored Republican candidate.
Kass backs up his belief that Sam Clovis will be the nominee based upon recent debates featuring the political candidates.
Kass believes people are ready for a change in our government leadership. He says he has seen more new people attend the county political convention than at any other time.
The Republican State convention will be held in Des Moines and is scheduled for June 14th.
Legislature Hopes To End Work Soon
(Des Moines) -- Hopes are for the Iowa General Assembly to wrap up its work sometime early next week. Le Mars state representative Chuck Soderberg, who chairs the House appropriations committee, says there are still some budget issues that stand in the way of adjournment.
Soderberg says he is staying in Des Moines over the weekend in order to hopefully find a suitable compromise on the remaining budget bills so the lawmakers can adjourn either Monday or Tuesday.
Whistle-blower Bill Passes State Senate
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has passed a Democrat-sponsored bill that guarantees state workers expanded whistleblower protections and addresses other issues including secret settlement agreements, and hiring and firing practices.
The bill passed 26-22 after several Republican amendments were rejected. It's survival in the Republican-led House is questionable.
Republicans opposed the bill because it does not include their proposal to open state employee records so the public would know what a worker did wrong to get fired.
Oversight Committee Chairwoman Janet Petersen, a Democrat, says disclosing that information could open the state to lawsuits.
The bill makes it illegal to fire, demote or inflict other reprisal for reporting mismanagement or other problems.
The measure prohibits confidentiality in employee settlement agreements and state hiring and firing practices would be revised.
Broadband Internet Bill Fails In Iowa House
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill to expand high speed Internet access to rural Iowans has failed in the Iowa House, dealing a blow to one of Governor Terry Branstad's priorities.
The bill drew just 44 votes in favor and 51 against in the chamber where Republicans hold a majority of the seats.
Guy Vander Linden of Oskaloosa was one of the nine Republican "no" votes Friday. He says the bill was too loose with tax incentives, saying: "It sounds like a blank check I'm not willing to sign."
A provision giving cellular companies more control over tower placement that angered city officials was removed at the last minute.
Branstad blamed Democrats for Washington-style politics, but House Democratic Leader Mark Smith says the Republican majority failed to pass the bill.
Two Democrats voted "yes."
House Backs Bullying Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa House passed a pared down anti-bullying bill batting back to the Senate one of Governor Terry Branstad's priority policy issues this year.
If the Senate rejects the House amendment the bill will end up in conference committee to work out differences as the Legislature moves into its final days.
The House amendment removes funding for training of teachers and administrators and says the training should be part of their professional development.
The amendment requires districts to establish notification procedures for bullying that includes consulting with the bullied student and a school counsellor before parents are told. Parents would not be notified if the student indicates it would subject them to abuse or other harm at home.
The amendment also adds social networking to the definition of electronic bullying.
Greyhound Racing To End In Council Bluffs, But Will Continue In Dubuque
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Senate has passed a bill that would end greyhound racing in Council Bluffs but allow dog owners to continue operating a track in Dubuque.
The bill passed 46-2 and moves to the House.
It was placed on the legislative fast-track this week after casinos in the two towns negotiated a deal with the Iowa Greyhound Association that creates a $36 million retirement fund for dog owners and breeders who want to get out of the business. It allocated another $36 million to help the association negotiate a lease for the Dubuque track and try to keep dog racing alive.
The casinos spend millions of dollars a year to subsidize dog racing which has seen betting decline dramatically in the last decade and will pay the money to end racing.
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