Tuesday Afternoon News, May 14
State Economic Development Director Says She Will Make Travel Expenses More Transparent
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's Economic Development Authority director says her substantial travel spending is necessary to promote Iowa.
Debi Durham said during a meeting with the Sioux City Journal editorial board on Monday that the spending will be going up as she and her staff sell the state across the world.
Durham came under fire last month after Des Moines television station WHO reported she spent more than $73,000 on travel in the 2012 fiscal year. Gov. Terry Branstad soon came to her defense,
saying Durham "works day and night for the taxpayers of Iowa."
Durham said Monday that her department has made changes so it can provide better explanations of travel expenditures.
Domestic Abuse Centers Try To Stay Open
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Small domestic abuse shelters throughout Iowa are scrambling to remain open amid changes by state officials that will mean a loss of funding.
The state attorney general's office notified 12 shelters last week that they no longer will receive state money. It's part of an effort to more effectively spend the dwindling funding that's available.
The state will devote the money to eight larger shelters, which can deliver more extensive services to victims.
Janelle Melohn, of the attorney general's office, says the changes are needed to more effectively help victims at a time when federal funding passed through the state government has repeatedly
At shelters like the Dubuque Community Y Domestic Violence Program, director Charla Bulko says the organization will try to raise the money needed to remain open.
Four Public Hearings Scheduled For Health Care Plan
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Human Services will hold four public hearings on the governor's proposed health care plan in cities across the state in June.
The department has scheduled hearings on Gov. Terry Branstad's Healthy Iowa plan in Des Moines, Sioux City and Davenport on June 3 and in Cedar Rapids on June 4. The public can also submit comments to the department about the plan until June 17.
Branstad's plan is a revamped version of IowaCare, a program for low-income residents that is set to end on Oct. 31. Healthy Iowa would provide coverage to an estimated 95,000 residents with
incomes up to the poverty line.
Branstad opposes the Senate Democrats' plan for expanding Medicaid, as allowed under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, saying the cost isn't sustainable.
Legislature Working On Final Details Of Budget
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers say they have an agreement on an overall budget figure, a signal that the end of the legislative session may not be far behind.
Legislative leaders say Tuesday that they have a deal to set the state general fund budget at just under $6.5 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Senate and House leaders say votes could
start on individual budget bills as early as Wednesday.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen both say they are moving forward on two key issues of the session - education policy and property tax
reductions. But they say there has been less progress on whether to expand Medicaid or approve an alternate low-income health plan.
Iowa Ties Record For Longest Time Between Tornadoes
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa is about to tie a state record for the longest stretch without a reported tornado.
The National Weather Service says at the end of Tuesday, it will be 355 days since a tornado touched down in the state. That's a state record set between May 5, 1955, and April 26, 1956. The
record would be broken at the end of Wednesday.
The last recorded tornado in Iowa was on May 24, 2012, in Fayette County.
Officials say severe weather in the state appears minimal through Wednesday. There could be thunderstorms in northern Iowa late Tuesday.
Officials say the streak is impressive because of the comprehensiveness of today's digital technology and spotter networks. There was a greater likelihood in the 1950s for a tornado to occur without being reported.
Iowa To Receive STEM Grant
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa has received a $1.2 million federal grant for a project related to science, technology, engineering and math education.
Gov. Terry Branstad announced the funding from the National Science Foundation Tuesday in a press release. The study of these four subjects collectively is known as STEM.
The money will be provided over three years and will help develop a statewide system for evaluating STEM education in Iowa. The funding goes to an advisory council that works on advancing
STEM education. Branstad established the council in 2011.
In the release, Branstad calls Iowa a "pioneering state in advancing these important life and career skills."