Saturday News, January 24
Soderberg And Anderson Answer Questions About Legislative Issues
(Le Mars) -- State lawmakers Chuck Soderberg and Bill Anderson appeared before a gathering of 25 people Friday answering questions relating to the state's budget, transportation and the fuel tax, education funding and the start of school, and mental health funding and the closing of two of Iowa's mental health institutions. Soderberg informed the group that Governor Branstad has proposed a budget of $346.7 million more than in fiscal year 2015. Soderberg says that means $146.4 million of one-time money would be used to fund ongoing expenses, which he says is not consistent with the budget principles the legislature has supported over the last four years. Soderberg says there are three areas that make up 90 percent of the state's budget. They include education funding at 55 percent. human services that take up 26 percent, and the justice system receives 9 percent of the state's revenue. Soderberg says the one thing the legislature must do is pass a balanced budget.
Soderberg says with new programs approved during last session, there simply is not enough money to be able to finance every program.
Soderberg says the legislature will need to make some cuts in order to balance the state's budget.
Le Mars City Council To Hold Special Meeting To Review Budget
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday beginning at 4:00 p.m. at the city hall council chambers. The purpose of the meeting is to review the proposed city budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Le Mars Community School Board To Hold Retreat
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education is scheduled to hold its special retreat on Monday. The school board will learn more about the technology intergration in the elementary grades, and they will also examine the Iowa Core Unpacking Standards, and they will have TLC updates.
Jamal Dean Sentenced To Life In Prison
(Sioux City) -- Two Sioux City brothers who were found guilty on federal robbery and weapons charges last August were sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court. It's life in prison for 23 year old Jamal Dean. Judge Mark Bennett sentenced Dean for two counts of robbery, two counts of brandishing a firearm in a crime of violence and one count each of conspiracy to committ robbery, carjacking, and being a felon in possession of a firearm in the April, 2013 robberies of two drug dealers. In handing down the sentence, Judge Bennett told Jamal Dean that he was an incredible menace to society based on his actions. Jamal Dean is already serving 25 years in prison for attempted murder in the shooting of Sioux City Police Officer, Kevin McCormick during a traffic stop in April, 2013. McCormick read an emotional victim's statement at the hearing, telling the judge how his life and family had been affected since the shooting. The Sioux City police officer was one of ten witnesses called at the sentencing. Federal prosecutor Forde Fairchild presented evidence that Jamal Dean had shot two people, Jamie Espinoza and Sergio-Soto Gomez, in gang related crimes that he had never been prosecuted for. A South Sioux Citiy woman also testified about how Jamal Dean had sexually assaulted her in the past. In handing down the sentence, Judge Bennett weighed those factors plus the fact that Jamal Dean had been in jail four times and prison three other times by the age of 23, and had been returned behind bars in five months or less each time he was released. Fairchild says Dean proved by those actions that he could not be rehabilitated.
Bennett said Dean ranked only behind Dustin Honken, as far as being the most dangerous person he had ever sentenced in 20 years on the bench. The judge also reccomended that Dean be sent to the supermax prison in Colorado, because he considered that Dean would be a menace to other inmates. After the hearing, Sioux City Police Chief Doug Young said the streets of the city will be safer for citizens.
His brother, 25 year old LeVon Dean, was sentenced to 400 months in prison. LeVon Dean was sentenced for two counts of robbery, two counts of possessing a firearm in furthering a crime of violence and on count each of conspiracy to commit robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Grassley Opposes Obama's Idea For Free Community College
(Washington) -- During his State of the Union address, President Obama referred to the nation's community colleges and hinted that the federal government may want to consider offering free tuition, and additional aid to those students wanting to attend community colleges. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says the president's plan would apply to liberal arts and humanities students and not to vocational trade students. Grassley says that would be unfair, and he doesn't want to see the federal government involved with community colleges.
Grassley says the other consideration is the financial burden it would place on the federal government's already growing debt.
Lottery Official Pleads Not Guilty To Fraud
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa lottery worker has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges following accusations that he illegally played the lottery, won a multimillion-dollar jackpot in 2010 and asked others to help him claim it.
51-year-old Eddie Raymond Tipton, of Norwalk, Iowa, entered the plea Friday. Tipton was arrested and charged Jan. 15 on two counts of fraud.
Officials had been trying to identify the winner of the $14.3 million Hot Lotto ticket since a New York lawyer tried to claim the prize just before the one-year deadline in 2011. As director of information security at the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa, Tipton is not allowed to buy tickets or win prizes.
Wisconsin Governor Prepares Fro Iowa Visit
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is fine-tuning his message heading into a busy weekend where he will rub shoulders with other potential 2016 presidential candidates. Walker plans to speak to conservatives in Iowa and at a Koch brothers sponsored event in California.
Walker has been crafting his image on the national political stage as a fresh-faced reformer and a proven winner who can offer a stark contrast to what he brands as dysfunction in Washington.
Walker said Friday he will talk to Iowa Republicans about his record in Wisconsin and make the argument that the GOP presidential nominee needs to be someone who is a proven winner and outside of the Washington establishment.
Republican Iowa activist Susan Geddes says Walker needs to make himself known to Iowa voters, but he is "something new and fresh."
Insurance Commissioner Asks Court To Liquidate CoOportunity Health
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's top insurance official has asked a court to end a consumer-owned cooperative that was selling health insurance to residents in Iowa and Nebraska.
Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said Friday he would seek liquidation of CoOportunity Health. He expects the process to be complete by late February.
CoOportunity is a federally funded nonprofit aimed at providing more health care options in Iowa and Nebraska. State regulators took over CoOportunity late last year after the organization's available funds were depleted.
Gerhart says he chose liquidation after determining that the cooperative's medical claims would exceed its cash on hand. He recommends people find other health insurance coverage by March 1st.
CoOportunity insures about 120,000 people in Iowa and Nebraska.