Wednesday Afternoon News, March 20
Senate Wants Schools To Test For Radon Gas
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has approved legislation that would require schools to test for radon.
Lawmakers approved the measure 37-13 Wednesday with bipartisan support. It now heads to the House.
The bill would require public and private schools to test for the gas and install a system to expel it from buildings. It also would require residential construction companies to install pipes to mitigate the colorless and odorless gas in new homes built after Jan. 1, 2015.
The EPA says Iowa's 99 counties are in the agency's highest risk zone for gas exposure, which leaks through cracks in building foundations. The EPA says it is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.
Senate Approves Tax Breaks For Low Income
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has approved a measure that would give a larger income tax break to low-income residents.
Lawmakers passed the measure 35-15 Wednesday. Iowa households that make under $45,000 a year would get about a $250 tax break because they could keep a higher refund from their federal income tax.
Democrat Sen. Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City, the bill sponsor, says this is one of the best ways to reduce poverty in the state. He says the bill would help 210,000 families in Iowa.
Republican Sen. Randy Feenstra of Hull says the proposed credit is too high and unrealistic. He proposed an amendment to offer a smaller tax break to more taxpayers, but it failed to garner enough
The measure now heads to the House.
Iowa DOT To Establish Rules For Traffic Cameras
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Transportation is preparing rules for where traffic cameras may be installed along interstates and highways in the state.
The department decided to move ahead after a measure that would have required cities and counties to get department permits before installing new traffic cameras died for this legislative session.
Department Director Paul Trombino says the rules would help as more cities consider using the cameras. The guidelines would require that cities provide data showing that cameras are the best
tool to improve safety on the highways.
The department will hold community meetings to get reactions from Iowa drivers. It also will consider legislation as part of the process.
Investigators Examine Sex Video
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities in southern Iowa are investigating the online distribution of a video showing a sex act between a 19-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl.
The Knoxville Police Department says Jake Smith engaged in a sex act with the girl in February, and several males between 18 and 19 years old were in the room at the time.
Lt. Aaron Fuller says one male is suspected of recording the act via a webcam, and several high school students have circulated it through email. Police say the girl didn't know she was being
Authorities want to recover all copies to stop circulation.
Smith faces felony charges of sex abuse and exploitation of a minor. His attorney declined to comment Wednesday.
Fuller says additional charges are possible against Smith and others.
Belle Plaine Council To Decide On Chickens In City
BELLE PLAINE, Iowa (AP) - The Belle Plaine City Council has been asked about letting people raise some chickens inside the east-central Iowa city.
The council discussed the idea at a work session Monday. A resident had proposed a change in the 1977 ordinance that banned the birds.
City Administrator Bill Daily says the city is researching what prompted that ban as officials consider whether to change it now.
Backyard chickens have become an issue in Iowa as homegrown and organic food becomes more popular. Cedar Rapids has allowed small flocks inside city limits since 2010, and Iowa City recently
approved urban chickens.
The council took no official action on the issue Monday. Daily says the issue likely will come up again at the council's work session on April 15. The Le Mars City Council had a similar issue come before them in recent weeks. The Le Mars City Council voted down a request by an individual to raise chickens within the city limits.