Monday Afternoon News, January 12
Branstad Tells Republican Legislators To Look Forward To 2016
(Des Moines) -- Iowa's 2015 General Session begins today, but Governor Terry Branstad is already looking ahead to 2016. During a legislative fundraiser breakfast held this morning, Branstad urged Republican lawmakers to start making plans for the next election cycle.
During his 20 year tenure, Branstad has rarely had both legislative chambers hold a Republican majority. It did happen once in 1996, and Branstad says he would like to see it happen again.
The Iowa Senate has 25 seats that are up for election every two years. Branstad says Republicans need to find suitable candidates for each Senate position.
Iowa Has High Percentage Of Homes With Radon
(Des Moines) -- Iowa is believed to have the largest percentage of homes in the U.S. with radon levels above what the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) calls "acceptable." Mindy Uhle, with the Iowa Department of Public Health, says at least half of the homes in the state have an elevated radon level.
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Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that causes no immediate health symptoms, but long-term exposures may cause lung cancer. It comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil. Uhle encourages all homeowners to purchase a radon test kit, which typically costs less than $20.
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Radon gas typically seeps into a house under the home -- through cracks in the foundation, floor or walls, and openings around floor drains, pipes and sump pumps. Uhle suggests having a second test done if a first test shows high levels of radon in your home. Repairs to fix the problem are expensive.
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Last week, Governor Branstad signed a proclamation, formally declaring January as "Radon Action Month" in Iowa.
Branstad Says Teacher Licensening Program Is Working
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says a teacher licensing program aimed at helping veterans and their families is working.
Branstad said at a Monday news conference that the military exchange license program has helped veterans and their spouses secure technical and provisional licenses that will keep them working in the state. The program allows participants to teach in the state for several years without having to immediately take additional college coursework.
Branstad says the program ties in with his separate Home Base Iowa initiative, which went into effect last year. That law is aimed at giving veterans incentives to work in Iowa once their military service is over.
The licensing program is offered through the Board of Educational Examiners. A board report says more than 20 licenses were issued in 2014.
Drake Announces New President
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An administrator at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, will become the next president at Drake University in Des Moines.
Drake announced Monday that Earl F. Martin, Gonzaga's executive vice president, would become the 13th president at Drake in July.
Martin will succeed David Maxwell, who will retire after 16 years at the university.
At Gonzaga, Martin has provided administrative and operational oversight since 2010. He also served as academic vice president and dean of Gonzaga's School of Law during his tenure at the university.
Martin joins Drake as the school works to advance STEM initiatives and complete a $200 million fundraising campaign.
Drake University Board of Trustees chairman Larry Zimpleman says Martin is 'well-equipped' to lead Drake as the university wraps up past projects and confronts new challenges.
Branstad To Speak At Summit
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will appear at a conservative summit in Iowa this month.
Organizers of the Iowa Freedom Summit said Monday that Branstad and Reynolds will participate. The Jan. 24 event in Des Moines is being sponsored by Citizens United and Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa.
Other confirmed guests for the summit include Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Council Bluffs Man Beaten During Home Invasion
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A 72-year-old man has been beaten by a man who broke into his home in western Iowa.
Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker says the man entered a house in the rural Honey Creek community north of Council Bluffs around 9 p.m. on Sunday. Danker says the man wore a black ski mask, black jacket and hood and used a weapon of some sort to beat Robert Bogar. Bogar's wife was not injured.
The man left the house without taking anything. Bogar was taken to a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.
No arrests have been reported.