Iowa Statewide — The manager of an Iowa auction company says the state is making it difficult for truckers to get much-needed hay into the state.

Trucks transporting hay, straw, or cornstalks are often overweight and Iowa requires a permit for any truckload of hay — which isn’t the case in other Midwest states. Dyersville Sales Company manager Dale Leslein tells K-C-R-G T-V the permits are making it difficult for him to get hay into his auction.

Leslein said truckers don’t want to pay for these permits. Even if they did, he said truckers are worried they’ll get cited for not having the correct permits. Leslein said it’s critical to get hay into the state because of a shortage.

A low supply of hay means the prices go up, and that is passed on to farmers at a time when dairy farmers have already been struggling. These overweight permits for hay, corn, and straw cost 25 dollars. That allows a truck to drive on state roads for an unlimited number of times in one year. To drive on county and some city roads, truckers have to purchase permits from those local governments, too. Iowa Department of Transportation Sergeant Neil Suckow tells K-C-R-G T-V the state has given truckers a break by charging 25 instead of 50 dollars for the permit — which is the price for all other overweight loads.

Suckow said the permits have requirements to promotes safety on the road.

Leslein isn’t sure how much longer his business and farms can last with the permits in place. He says the alfalfa issue isn’t going away quickly.

Leslein said a change would help farmers who are already hurting as they try to supply food.

A similar hay and straw auction exists in Rock Valley where they sell on average, 4500 loads per year.

Des Moines, Iowa — The medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health confirms the flu is spreading much faster than usual this season. Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati says there were nearly 700 confirmed flu cases statewide through the end of December, compared to only about 150 a year ago.

Dr. Pedati says the state’s flu activity level is compiled by combining all sorts of data from a variety of sources.

At this point a year ago, one Iowan had died from flu complications, but this season, the number is far higher.

While January and February are typically the peak months, Iowa’s flu activity level is already at its highest point — widespread — but Pedati says there are still simple ways to protect yourself.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list Iowa among the 34 states where the spread of the flu this season is considered widespread. While the flu numbers are significantly higher this season compared to last year, Pedati notes this season is still tracking below the 2017-2018 season, which was particularly bad.

Statewide Iowa — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate president pro tempore and Senate Finance Committee Chairman, has released a statement regarding House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) announcement that she will soon transmit articles of impeachment to the United States Senate.

“Speaker Pelosi threw the United States Congress into unnecessary chaos with this pointless delay. From the beginning, it’s been unclear what the goal of this hurry-up-and-wait tactic was or what the country stood to gain. We now know the answer was nothing. We’ve had three needless weeks of uncertainty and confusion, causing even more division.”

“After House Democrats delayed passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement for nearly a year, the speaker’s indecision on impeachment will now keep the trade deal from being ratified for even longer. Farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and all American workers will pay the price.”

“Regardless, I will take my role as a juror seriously and review the evidence presented by both sides before making any determination.”

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Utilities Board has issued its final decision and order about Alliant Energy’s request to increase Iowa retail customer electric rates.

On March 1, 2019, Alliant filed with the IUB an application seeking an increase in electric rates and requesting a permanent annual revenue increase of approximately $203.6 million. On October 3, 2019, a non-unanimous partial settlement among many of the parties involved was filed, which reduced the annual revenue increase to $127 million and a return on equity to 9.5 percent.

The IUB’s final decision and order approves the non-unanimous partial settlement agreement and resolves other contested issues in the case. The order:

· Approves a refund of $7.5 million for customers who paid interim rates;

· Increases the monthly customer charge from $11.50 to $13 for residential customers and from $19 to $20 for the general service customers;

· Sets a monthly fee of $4.06 for customers who opt out of having an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meter but does not allow Alliant to charge a fee to customers who choose a reduced-pulse meter;

· Approves a renewable energy rider (RER) as a line item on customers’ bills to recover costs of wind projects known as New Wind I and II, which will go into service in 2020. Alliant indicated that the rider will delay the need to file a rate increase request in 2021; and

· Establishes a regulatory principle that the return on equity on interim rates cannot be higher than the return on equity for proposed final rates.

The Board decision says Alliant has not efficiently managed its relationships with its customers. The Board requires Alliant to file a comprehensive improvement plan within 90 days and review its own internal processes, identify opportunities for improvement, and correct deficiencies as they become apparent.

As part of the proceedings in the electric rate case, the Iowa Utilities Board received more than 5,600 written public comments and in the spring of 2019 held 10 public customer comment meetings throughout Alliant’s Iowa service territory.

The board stated that many customer comments revealed concerns with Alliant’s management practices. The decision also requires the company to file an improvement plan and review its internal processes.

The Iowa Utilities Board says rate changes will take effect upon the board’s review and approval of the compliance tariffs.

January 8, 2020 - 1:01 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — January is National Blood Donor Month, and the Siouxland Community Blood Bank is in need of donations.

Ken Versteeg is the Executive Director of the Siouxland Community Blood Bank, the organization that is the sole supplier of blood and blood products to our area hospitals. He says they’ve been seeing a decrease in donations.

He cites some of the reasons for the recent decline in blood donations.

Versteeg says some blood types are in particularly short supply.

He tells us there are some requirements for donating blood.

If you’d like more information, or to see where the Siouxland Community Bloodbank Bloodmobile will be accepting donations, visit

Versteeg says that while they’re seeing a drop in donations, the demand for blood is still there.

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — Governor Kim Reynolds says all pending applications from Iowans with felony records who’re seeking restoration of their voting rights will be reviewed before the Iowa Caucuses.

Iowa is the only state that still bans all people with felony convictions from voting unless they appeal directly to the governor.

The Iowa Department of Corrections has just begun giving qualified inmates a nearly-complete voting rights application when they’re released from prison. The governor says that will eliminate the background check Department of Public Safety staff have had to do.

Reynolds is again this year asking legislators to craft a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore felon voting rights during the legislative session that starts next week. Reynolds made her comments Tuesday during a statehouse forum organized by the Associated Press.

January 8, 2020 - 11:56 am - Posted in News

George, Iowa — A traffic stop Tuesday morning in George resulted in the arrest of a George man on drug-related charges.

Court records indicate  that a Lyon County Deputy spotted a pickup truck with an allegedly faulty brake light being driven by an individual the deputy reportedly knew to not have a valid drivers license. Court documents say the deputy pulled over the pickup, which was driven by 69-year-old Larry Denekas of George, in the Casey’s General Store parking lot.

According to paperwork filed with the court, when Denekas voluntarily emptied his pockets, a plastic container allegedly containing methamphetamine fell out onto the ground. Deputies say Denekas was then placed under arrest and placed into the deputy’s patrol car where he allegedly admitted that he was also in possession of two meth pipes.

According to authorities, Denekas was transported to the Lyon County Jail at Rock Rapids, and is charged with Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Court records indicate that Denekas has been twice before convicted of a drug related offense, which enhances the Meth Possession charge to a Class D Felony. The Possession of Paraphernalia charge is a misdemeanor.

January 7, 2020 - 4:09 pm - Posted in News

Rock Valley, Iowa — Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig made an appearance at a luncheon on economic development and trade in Rock Valley on Monday.

The luncheon was put on by Northwest Iowa Development — a group of four counties that the organization says work to create “a unified, targeted approach to developing and branding/marketing the Northwest Iowa region to attract quality new corporate locations and expansions and to attract skilled talent to support business growth.”

Rock Valley Economic Development Director Dave Miller says key economic development, public sector, and private sector leaders were invited to talk about northwest Iowa development opportunities and especially international trade expansion for Iowa businesses and farmers at the event held at Rock Valley’s new Parkview Event Center.

Miller says that instead of creating a zone as a large corporation, they created one as a group, for the small businesses of northwest Iowa. He says it is now in effect, and they’re looking for more businesses to take part, which was one of the reasons for the luncheon.

He says another reason for the luncheon was to hear from Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who gave an update during the program on expanding ag markets and trade.

Secretary Naig began his 99-County Tour by visiting Lyon and Sioux Counties. He also visited Stensland Family Farms near Larchwood on Monday. The Ag Department says the Stenslands have implemented innovation on their farm with robots and low-temp pasteurized milk, and their products are available at grocery stores and supermarkets in the tri-state area. They also have a retail store in Sioux Falls.

Photo Caption: Secretary Naig Speaks at luncheon in Rock Valley

January 7, 2020 - 1:33 pm - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says “this day is years in the making” as the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs, took up the US Mexico Canada Agreement Tuesday morning.

Exactly how soon is the big question, however, as Senate Leader Mitch McConnell will have to schedule the U-S-M-C-A vote around what Grassley calls the “very wild card” of the impeachment of President Trump.

In his decades in office, Grassley says he’s worked on at least 20 major trade agreements, but U-S-M-C-A is unique.

The agreement needs to pass both chambers of Congress. The House ratified U-S-M-C-A in December, the same week it passed the two articles of impeachment.

January 7, 2020 - 11:53 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Iowa is the only state that still bans all people with felony convictions from voting unless they appeal to the governor, but voting rights advocates say some paroled inmates mistakenly think they’re not allowed to vote when they’ve been convicted of lesser crimes.

Campaign Legal Center attorney Blair Bowie is urging Governor Kim Reynolds to issue an executive order and automatically restore felon voting rights, while continuing to push for a constitutional amendment to make the change permanent.

A year ago, Republican Governor Kim Reynolds asked legislators to start the lengthy process of trying to amend the state constitution to automatically restore felon voting rights, but the proposal stalled in the Republican-led Iowa Senate. The Reynolds administration has simplified the application process for felons seeking restoration of their voting rights, but there’s now a three-to-four-month wait as a handful of state employees check the applications for accuracy. Ashley Caldwell is with Restore Your Vote Iowa, a group that’s helping felons with the paperwork.

Iowa Public Radio recently spoke with Travis Fugere, who applied in November to have his voting rights restored.

A 2008 drug conviction landed Fugere in prison for a little less than two years. He’s now the manager of a central Iowa fast food restaurant and leading a recovery group at his church after being sober for 12 years.

Fugere says he’s just waiting now to see if he can participate in the Iowa Caucuses, which are less than a month away.