Saturday News, February 7
House Passes Spending Measure For Schools
(Le Mars) -- Education bills was the focus of attention for the Iowa General Assembly during this past week. The House of Representatives passed a spending bill that would allocate $50 million to the Iowa school districts, which represents a 1.25 percent increase over last year's education spending. Many school officials, however, are saying the approved amount of educational funding is simply not enough. State Representative Chuck Soderberg says there is no more available money in the state's budget to increase education funding, unless more cuts are made.
The State Senate wants to allocate up to $200 million, or a four percent increase for education funding. Soderberg says, if the Senate bill passes, more cuts in other programs will be needed.
The other issue involving education was what should be the start date for schools? Soderberg says most of the state's schools have requested, and been granted a waiver for the start date. However, Governor Branstad wants the state to follow the law which says schools can't start school until the week of September 1st.
Ag Secretary To Visit
(Des Moines)--Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has announced that he will be visiting Sac, Cherokee and O’Brien Counties on Tuesday, February 10.
Northey will speak at a Crop Production Services meeting in Wall Lake and at the Cherokee County Ag Show and then visit the Paullina Locker Plant.
Pipeline Project Gets More Feberal Money
TEA, S.D. (AP) - A pipeline that will deliver Missouri River water to towns and rural water systems in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota has picked up more funding from Washington.
The Lewis and Clark Regional Water System will receive an extra $6.6 million from Bureau of Reclamation, in addition to the original $2.4 million budgeted for this year.
Executive director Troy Larson says that $9 million will help the project award another contract.
He says senators and representatives from the three states helped secure the extra funding.
Larson says the water system is 65 percent done and is delivering water to 11 of its 20 members.
Vice President Biden To Visit Des Moines
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Des Moines next week.
The White House announced Friday that Biden would visit Drake University in Des Moines on Thursday. Biden will give remarks about President Barack Obama's economic policies.
Biden will also take part in a discussion at Des Moines Area Community College about attending college and preparing people for the workforce.
Biden is considered a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2016. He has said he will make a decision about running later in the spring or summer but has done little to set up a campaign.
Clean-Up Efforts Underway After Train Derailment
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials say they're trying to decide the best way to remove ethanol that leaked into the Mississippi River and pooled around the area where several train cars derailed.
The Telegraph Herald reports about a half-acre of fuel froze at the site as of Friday, with more covering about an acre of ice on the Mississippi. Fourteen of the cars that derailed Wednesday morning contained ethanol, and eight appeared to be leaking.
DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins says one ethanol removal option is to use a steam hose to collect and pump it into a storage tank. He says this won't be possible if the ice can't support the necessary equipment.
Baskins says the ice also limits efforts to evaluate the effect on aquatic life.
Invwstigation Underway Into Affects Of Data Breach
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state insurance official says officials continue to investigate the number of Iowans affected by a data breach at health insurer Anthem Inc.
Iowa Assistant Insurance Commissioner Tom O'Meara says Friday the company discovered a cyberattack into a database containing the personal information for 80 million people. The health insurance provider says hackers gained access to names, birthdates, email addresses, Social Security numbers and other information of people who are currently covered or previously had coverage.
O'Meara says the number of Iowans whose information has been compromised is unknown but that Anthem has two companies doing business in Iowa, one of which provides policies for more than 1 million people.
Anthem is notifying each person affected by the breach. O'Meara says instances of identity theft haven't yet been reported.
Inmate Accussed In Death Of Other Inmate
CORALVILLE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say an Iowa man imprisoned for killing two store clerks has been accused of trying to kill another inmate.
According to the Globe Gazette, a criminal complaint states that 21-year-old Michael Richard Swanson slashed a fellow inmate in the neck at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville on Nov. 13. The victim required stiches for 15 cuts.
Swanson is charged with felony attempted murder.
Swanson was convicted of killing 47-year-old Vicky Bowman-Hall while she worked at a convenience store in Algona in 2010. He was convicted of killing 61-year-old Sheila Myers on the same night while she worked at a convenience store in Humboldt. Swanson was 17 at the time.
He was serving two life terms, but his sentence was commuted by Gov. Terry Branstad, which allows him to seek parole after 60 years.