Friday Afternoon News, February 20
Sioux County Farmer Lobbies Legislature For Fuel Tax Increase
(Sioux Center) -- Earlier this week delegates representing the Iowa Farm Bureau were in Des Moines visiting with state legislators to advocate the farm organization's positions. The Iowa Farm Bureau is an organization that normally opposes tax increases, however, it is in favor of the ten cent per gallon fuel tax increase for roads and bridges repair. Matt Schuiteman (Sky-ter-man) of Sioux Center serves as the voting delegate for the Sioux County Farm Bureau. He says the Iowa Farm Bureau believes it is time to give attention to the deteriorating infrastructure.
Schuiteman doesn't believe the added ten cents per gallon will adversely affect people's decision to purchase fuel, saying the price of gasoline routinely fluxuates in price.
The Sioux County farmer spoke with State Representative Chuck Soderberg and State Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull about the fuel tax increase. He says Feenstra still has some concerns about the bill.
It is expected debate on the fuel tax increase will reach both chamber floors by the middle of next week.
Supreme Court Upholds Speeding Cameras
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the right of cities to use automated cameras to catch speeding motorists.
A Sioux Center attorney challenged Sioux City's 2011 ordinance establishing the use of cameras to catch speeders.
Michael Jacobsma's car was caught on camera going 67 miles an hour on Interstate 29 where the speed limit is 55.
He launched three constitutional challenges to the ordinance. He claims the ordinance is an unreasonable exercise of police power, violates due process rights of car owners and violates a limited home rule provision that says city ordinances cannot conflict with state laws.
The court rejected all three arguments Friday and upheld Jacobsma's fine.
Jacobsma, who represented himself, did not immediately return a message. The Sioux City attorney's office also didn't immediately respond.
Prison Contractor Asking For Additional $20 Million
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A corrections official has informed a legislative panel that the general contractor responsible for the new state prison in Fort Madison seeks an additional $20 million in state payments for its work.
Janet Phipps, director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, on Thursday told the House Government Oversight Committee that Walsh Construction of Chicago believes it is due somewhere around $20 million for the company's role in the project.
This revelation comes after the Iowa Department of Corrections confirmed that an often-cited $132 million cost for the empty Iowa State Penitentiary was inaccurate, and that the price tag had risen to $166 million.
Rep. Clel Baudler, a Greenfield Republican, says the project is a "colossal screw up" that will cost Iowa taxpayers.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Regional experts for the National Weather Service say the risk of flooding is at or below normal for Iowa this spring.
The reports released Thursday by service meteorologists in Des Moines and Davenport in Iowa and La Crosse, Wisconsin, covered the potential for river and lake flooding in their respective coverage areas through the end of May.
They cited the general lack of snowpack in much of Iowa and said stream levels and frost depths also were near normal for this time of year.
The meteorologists noted that their predictions could change with the weather. The weather service offices are scheduled to update their spring flooding outlooks on March 5.
Iowa Man Used Counterfeit Money For Food Purchases
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - Police say a Waterloo man arrested on forgery charges used counterfeit money to buy meals at several fast-food restaurants.
31-year-old Brett William Wehrle was arrested Thursday for six counts of forgery in connection with fake money found at stores in Cedar Falls and Waterloo. Police say this is Wehrle's second counterfeiting arrest in the past year.
According to court records, Wehrle tried to use fake $1, $5 and $10 bills at McDonald's, Burger King and Taco John's restaurants in the area. Documents show he also tried to purchase a soda using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store.
Cedar Falls Police Department Capt. Craig Berte says the case has been passed on to the U.S. Secret Service. Wehrle is being held on $30,000 bond.
Teenage Boy Charged With Kidnapping And Sexual Assault
WEST UNION, Iowa (AP) - A northeast Iowa teen has been charged with kidnapping a girl and sexually abusing her.
The 16-year-old from West Union was arrested for first-degree kidnapping and third-degree sexual abuse. He has been charged as an adult.
The Associated Press generally doesn't name minors accused of crimes.
According to court records, the teen picked up a 15-year-old girl and wouldn't let her leave his vehicle. Records say he parked the car and initiated sexual contact with the girl. Police found the two inside unclothed.
Police say the teenagers knew each other.
If convicted, the teen, who was arrested Feb. 13, faces up to 10 years in prison on the sexual abuse charge and life in prison on the kidnapping charge.