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Monday Afternoon News, January 7

State Legislature To Go Back To Work Next Monday

(Le Mars) -- In one week, Iowa legislators will return to Des Moines to start the General Session.  State Representative, Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars says he believes the legislature will look at three priorities, including a balanced budget for the next fiscal year.   Soderberg says Governor Branstad will submit his budget on day two of the legislative session, and he believes the legislature will immediately go to work on the budget.   The state legislature will have to decide what to do with a large revenue surplus.
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Calling it a recipe for disaster, Soderberg, who will assume the duties as House Appropriations Committee chairman, says he wants to make certain the budget is balanced using on-going revenue sources, and not to be tempted to balance the budget using one-time money for on-going programs.   Another priority for the legislature will be to reform education.
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Soderberg, along with State Senator Bill Anderson will hold legislative forums on Saturday, prior to the start of the general session.  Soderberg and Anderson will be at Plymouth County Energy at Merrill at 8:30 a.m., the Habitue Coffeehouse and Creperie in Le Mars at 10:00 a.m., and at the Akron Public Library at 12:00 noon.


Siouxland Officials Tour Kansas City Area Casinos

(Kansas City) --  A delegation of Siouxland officials got a first hand look at what a Penn National Hollywood gambling casino looks like on Saturday during a bus trip to Kansas and Missouri.  Nearly 40 people made the trip in which they met with city officials from Kansas City, Kansas and Riverside, Missouri, which are home to the Penn Gaming facilities.  The group included business leaders, members of the new non-profit organization partnering with Penn Gaming on their local casino proposal, elected officials from Woodbury County, and area media representatives.


Iowa Home Buyers May Be Eligible For Lower Taxes

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Some Iowa home buyers may be eligible for a program that will reduce their federal tax burden.
Gov. Terry Branstad announced Monday the state is offering a mortgage credit certificate program that will reduce federal income taxes for qualifying home buyers. The relief could be as much as
$2,000 a year for the duration of the mortgage.
The program is available to first time homebuyers, those buying in certain targeted areas and some military veterans. It is funded through federal bonds and the state expects to provide relief to about 1,000 home buyers.
A spokeswoman for the Iowa Finance Authority, which is administering the program, says this tax program has not been offered to Iowans since the mid-1990s.


Branstad Shoots Deer Buck

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new decoration is coming to the Iowa Capitol, courtesy of Gov. Terry Branstad's latest hunting expedition.
Branstad announced Monday that he shot a buck over the weekend during his annual deer hunt.
A picture of Branstad with the slain buck is displayed on his Facebook page. The governor shot him on Saturday in Decatur County.  He says this is the third time he has shot a buck.
The governor plans to mount the deer head and hang it in a conference room in his office. His spokesman says staff believes this is the first time any game has been hung in the governor's office.


Monday News, January 7

Hospital Trustees To Meet

(Le Mars)
-- The Floyd Valley Hospital Board of Trustees are scheduled to meet on Tuesday evening beginning at 6:00 p.m.  The trustees will make committee appointments, decide upon what to do with medical surplus equipment, and look at their annual review.


Chamber Banquet Date Announced

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars Chamber of Commerce officials have announced the date for the annual Chamber banquet.  This year the banquet will be held on Saturday, January 26 at the Upper Level of the Le Mars Convention Center.  Social hour will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the dinner scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.  Crimson and Black show choir and the Gehlen Choir will perform. During the banquet, awards and recognitions of the Business of the Year, the Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and the Boss of the Quarter and Employee of the Month will be presented.  Tickets are $40 per person and reservations can be made by calling the Le Mars Chamber office at 546-8821.


State Examining Firings of State Employees

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials are re-examining state personnel rules after a newspaper investigation revealed that 33 state employees who were fired returned to work for the state in
the past five years.
The Des Moines Register is examining the records of 328 state employees fired for just-cause in the past five years.
An Iowa conservation officer is still working even after being fired twice for alcohol-related offenses.
One of the rehired employees had been fired for habitual tardiness. But she was later fired again.
David Roederer is the head of Iowa's Department of Management. He says rehiring fired employees shouldn't be happening.
But he says that most of the cases where an employee is rehired involve the state's grievance and arbitration process where the employee appealed the firing.


Former Director of U of I International Programs Files Lawsuit

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A lawsuit filed by a former director of the University of Iowa's Study Abroad program says she's a victim of discrimination and retaliation.
Janis Perkins lost her job as assistant dean of International Programs in April following what the university called a "comprehensive reorganization" of International Programs.
Her lawsuit says the reorganization was "a mere pretext" for firing Perkins. In the lawsuit Perkins says she was harassed and discriminated against because of her health disabilities.
Her lawsuit says Perkins was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder diagnosed in 2000. The lawsuit also says the condition required periods of leave for treatment and caused severe
University spokesman Tom Moore declined to discuss the matter.


Dead Woman Identified At Early, Iowa Farm

(Early) -- Authorities have identified the dead woman found at an Early, Iowa farm.  She is 45 year old Marilyn Schmitt.  Officials have not indicated how Schmitt died, but they do say the death is "suspicious". Schmitt is the mother of 21 year old Kirk Levin, who currently is in the Sac county jail, for accused kidnapping and assault of a Storm Lake woman.  Levin had been released from prison just two days prior to the incident. Schmitt and had been living at the same address of Levin. While investigating the kidnapping, officers found the dead body of Schmitt.

Prisoners Allowed To Watch Sexually Explicit Movies

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Administrators let offenders at one of Iowa's most dangerous prison units watch violent and sexually explicit movies and TV shows for years, despite repeated complaints
from a female officer who said it encouraged inmates to sexually harass her.
Murderers, sexual predators and others at a unit for mentally ill inmates at the maximum-security state prison in Fort Madison watched movies such as "Deranged," a horror film that includes a
scene in which a woman is beaten, raped, hung upside down and flayed.
Other sexually explicit and violent movies and shows were allowed despite correctional officer Kristine Sink's complaints.  When she turned them off and complained, records show her superiors
accused her of insubordination.
Sink filed a lawsuit November 30th against prison officials alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and workplace retaliation.


Police Officer Stabbed With Screwdriver

WAUKON, Iowa (AP) - A police officer is recovering after being stabbed with a screwdriver while trying to break up an assault in northeast Iowa.
The Allamakee County Sheriff's office says Waukon Police Officer Chad Dugan was hurt late Saturday while responding to an assault report.
Authorities say a 60-year-old man stabbed Dugan with a screwdriver when Dugan entered the home.
After a struggle, the 60-year-old was arrested. He is facing two charges of assaulting an officer, one charge of domestic assault and one charge of interfering with police.
Dugan was treated at a local hospital and released.


Fatal Snowmobile Accident

COGGON, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have identified the 21-year-old man who was killed in a snowmobile crash near Cedar Rapids late Friday.
The Linn County Sheriff's Department said Sunday that Aaron Greif of Central City died in the snowmobile crash.
Greif hit a field fence while he was driving the snowmobile just east of the Cedar Rapids suburb of Coggan.
Greif was thrown from the snowmobile after hitting the fence, and he died at the scene.
A second snowmobile traveling alongside Greif's also hit the fence, and injured a 20-year-old man from Central City.


Man Charged For Morphine Distribution

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - A 37-year-old Iowa man is facing charges because police believe he sold the morphine that killed another man in October.
The Burlington Hawk Eye reports that Christopher Sereda was charged in court Friday with involuntary manslaughter and delivering a controlled substance.
Prosecutors say Sereda sold morphine pills to Chad Crow on October 8th one day before the 38-year-old was found dead of a drug overdose. An autopsy showed that Crow had several drugs in his
system, but the morphine likely killed him.
Sereda told investigators he had sold painkiller pills to Crow.
Sereda is being held in the Des Moines County Jail in lieu of $55,000 bail. He is a construction worker and father of two.


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