Thursday News, June 6
Branstad To Sign Property Tax Relief Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad will sign legislation designed to reduce commercial property taxes in Iowa.
Branstad announced Wednesday that he will sign the bill into law on June 12th in Hiawatha. The compromise legislation passed by the Iowa Legislature will reduce taxable assessments for commercial
properties, as well as offer tax credits geared at small businesses.
The plan also limits the amount that residential and agricultural property values can grow. And it provides some income tax breaks to Iowa taxpayers.
Commercial property tax cuts were a top priority for Branstad during the 2013 legislative session.
Vilsack Will Not Run For Governor
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Former Governor Tom Vilsack will not run again for Iowa's top job in 2014.
A spokesman for the U.S. agriculture secretary and two-term Democratic governor says Wednesday that Vilsack has decided against a run. Matt Paul says Vilsack considered the race but enjoys his
Vilsack took the job in January 2009. He was governor from 1999 through 2007. He announced in January that he accepted President Barack Obama's offer to stay on for the second term, which ends in
Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has not announced plans to run for re-election, though he is widely expected to do so. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Jack Hatch, of Des Moines, is exploring
a run and state Rep. Tyler Olson, of Cedar Rapids, is also considering it.
Fitzgerald Considers A Run For Governor
(Des Moines) -- Iowa Democrat Michael Fitzgerald has won eight terms as state treasurer, but he may try to move his name up the statewide ballot in 2014.
Fitzgerald won his first, four-year term as state treasurer in 1982 and has served in state government for 30 years.
If Fitzgerald secures the Democratic Party's 2014 nomination for governor, he would likely face Republican Terry Branstad who would be seeking an unprecedented sixth term as governor.
In April Fitzgerald went on a speaking tour of the state organized by the Iowa Democratic Party to criticize what at that time was Governor Branstad's health care reform plan.
Levin's Trial Shows Investigator Interrogation
FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - A northwest Iowa man accused of killing his mother and kidnapping another woman says in a written statement to police that he doesn't remember killing his mother, though he recalls choking her.
The statement by 21-year-old Kirk Levin of Early was presented to jurors Wednesday in Webster
County during his trial.
Levin is charged with first-degree murder in the January death of Marilyn Schmitt. He faces third-degree kidnapping for allegedly abducting 21-year-old Jessica Vega.
The newspaper reports Levin gave the statement after a videotaped police interview where he repeatedly denied killing Schmitt. Levin says in the statement that he is the only person who
could have killed his mother. He says he can't explain his thinking, and he doesn't remember picking up Vega.
Search Continues In River For 15 Year Old Missing Girl
DAYTON, Iowa (AP) - Authorities plan to resume their search by river for a teenager in central Iowa abducted last month.
Dayton Police Chief Nick Dunbar says the state Department of Natural Resources will deploy boats on the Des Moines River this week to search for 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard.
The search will include new and old areas in the investigation.
Authorities halted their search for Kathlynn last week, which included more than 250 square miles in the Dayton area. Flooding also affected their efforts.
Police suspect Michael Klunder abducted Kathlynn and her 12-year-old friend on May 20 in Dayton. The younger girl was able to escape. Klunder was later found dead. Some of Kathlynn's blood
has been found, dampening hopes of finding her alive.
Museum To Host Author During "Ice Cream Days"
(Le Mars) -- “Prairie Fever,” a program about the English in America, will kick off “Ice Cream Days” week at the Plymouth County Historical Museum at 7 p.m., Monday, June 10.
Peter Pagnamenta of London, England, will be in the Museum’s Music Room to speak about his new book, “Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West, 1830-1890.” Published in late 2012 by W. W. Norton and Company of New York and London, the book contains several references to the settling of the English in Plymouth County.
The movement of the English into the American West is the focus of the story by the British author.
Pagnamenta will present a brief program at the Museum, answer questions, and sign books. A limited supply of his books is available in the Museum’s Book Shop for $25 per book.
Suspicious Package Sent To ISU's Student Newspaper Offices
AMES, Iowa (AP) - A suspicious substance found in a package sent to the Iowa State University student newspaper in Ames turned out to be harmless.
Jay Knox of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said Wednesday that the substance was just paper residue.
The Iowa State Daily's office was evacuated Wednesday during the investigation.
The newspaper editor, Stephen Koenigsfeld, says the package return address said it was from Robert Alberg. A Washington state man with that name was sent to prison in 2005 for violating parole
by trying to manufacture the poison ricin.
Iowa Gaming and Racing Commission To Discuss New Casino
OSCEOLA, Iowa (AP) - The board that regulates gambling in Iowa is discussing a proposal to build a $100 million casino in Cedar Rapids. The five-member Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission must
decide if it is ready to authorize another casino, adding to the 18 already licensed by the state to operate. The state also has three Native American casinos not regulated by the board.
The Cedar Rapids proposal is on the agenda for the commission's meeting Thursday at Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola.
Linn County voters approved a gambling referendum in March.
The board also is discussing a Davenport group's plan to buy the Rhythm City casino located near the Mississippi River. The group proposes moving the gambling operation to a new $110 million
casino-hotel complex that would be built near Interstate 80. Also on the agenda for the Iowa Gaming and Racing Commission is the topic of Penn National, the owners of the Sioux City Argosy riverboat casino, who is contesting the IGRC's decision in April to allow the Hard Rock Casino be the designated land-based casino in Sioux City.
State Ag. Department Shuts Down Dairy Plant
BUFFALO CENTER, Iowa (AP) - Agriculture officials have revoked the permit of a dairy plant in northern Iowa because of food safety concerns.
An administrative law judge ruled Wednesday in favor of the state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, which revoked the dairy plant permit for Meinders Farm Fresh Dairy in Buffalo
Center. The company must cease all operations and sales.
The department says Meinders Dairy violated state law requirements over how to store its milk products. They say inspections of the plant in 2012 turned up bacteria and coliform
counts that exceeded acceptable standards for pasteurized milk products.
The department says Meinders Dairy failed to perform specific follow-up tests in an effort to determine the company's progress.
A public phone number listed for Meinders Dairy went unanswered Wednesday.