Tuesday Afternoon News,January 26
Ebert Pleads Not Guilty To Attempted Murder
LE MARS, Iowa (AP) - A northwestern Iowa woman has pleaded not guilty to allegations that she intentionally crashed the car she was driving into another vehicle.
Melissa Ebert entered a written plea on Friday to two counts of attempted murder and other crimes. No trial date has been set.
Prosecutors say the 29-year-old Ebert threatened to kill herself and her passenger, Damian Johnson, before purposely veering her car into the path of an oncoming car on Sept. 9. Court documents say Ebert and Johnson were arguing before the collision.
The collision severely injured Ebert, Johnson and the driver of the other car.
Democrats Release Their Plan For A State Budget
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Democratic-controlled Senate has released a state budget outline slightly below Gov. Terry Branstad's proposal for spending.
Senate leaders said Tuesday they want to spend $7.398 billion from the general fund. Branstad has recommended a little over $7.4 billion for the fiscal year that begins in July.
Democrats want to spend more on education, including basic aid to schools. The issue is a sticking point for the Republican-majority House, which proposed a 2 percent increase to basic aid in a floor vote Monday. The Senate wants a 4 percent increase.
It's unclear how Democrats would reach their cost savings. Rep. Pat Grassley, a New Hartford Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, says he needs that information before commenting on the plan.
Republicans have not released their own budget outline.
State's Historical Museum May Lose Space With Renovation Plans
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The department that oversees Iowa's flagship history museum says a nearly $80 million renovation to the building will cut its square footage but enhance its presence near the Capitol.
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Mary Cownie told lawmakers Tuesday that the State Historical Museum in downtown Des Moines would shrink from about 230,000 square feet to about 155,000 square feet under a renovation plan that would span several years.
Cownie told an appropriations subcommittee the new square footage would be more manageable and include outdoor space. It would also have a new main entrance and repurposed space for state artifacts.
The department is seeking $65 million from the Iowa Legislature through an infrastructure fund that is separate from general state dollars. The department also expects to raise private money.
Conservative Lawyer Wants Another Trial
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A conservative lawyer who sued the University of Iowa law school, claiming she wasn't hired because of her conservative political views, plans to again take her case to a federal appeals court.
Two separate juries have decided against Teresa Manning, finding the law school's former dean, Carolyn Jones, did not commit illegal political discrimination when she declined to hire Manning for a full-time professor position.
The first verdict was appealed and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back for a new trial based on verdict process errors. The second jury also found Manning failed to prove political discrimination.
Manning sought a new trial claiming errors including improper jury instructions.
Judge James Gritzner on Friday denied a new trial.
Manning's attorney said Tuesday an appeal is planned.
Sioux City Neighborhood Doesn't Want Cell Tower
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Officials in Sioux City have at least temporarily blocked plans to build a cellphone tower in a Sioux City neighborhood.
The City Council unanimously voted to send a proposal for a Verizon Wireless tower in the Morningside neighborhood back to the Board of Adjustments. That panel will work on the proposal before it can return to the council.
The council took the action after hearing complaints from neighbors opposed to the tower. They say a 150-foot tower isn't appropriate for a site surrounded by houses.
A Verizon representative at the council meeting declined to comment.