February 17, 2020 - 3:13 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — This area’s Congressman, Steve King was in Sheldon on Monday. We had a chance to catch up with him.

He tells us the purpose of the trip.

Among the topics discussed at the meeting was ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard. King says the President signed an agreement in September to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol. But he says when the rule was published, it was too vague. He says some have pushed for a new rule, but he says that’s hard to do.

He says he’s going to finish that up and double-check the language, ask others to sign on and have the President sign it.

Another area that farmers are concerned about is trade.

King says with the UK exiting the EU, it would be a good idea for both the US and the UK to enter into a trade agreement with each other. He says it may open up European markets for the US.

King says he believes part of the reason we haven’t seen the effect we expected from the US-China agreement is that China’s economy is experiencing a slowdown due to the Coronavirus. Meanwhile, he says we need to remain vigilant to keep Chinese pork out of the US, due to African Swine Fever, which he says has decimated a large part, possibly a majority of the hogs in that nation. He told us about one instance of an attempt to smuggle Chinese pork into the US that he saw with his own eyes.

King was asked what could be done about the shortage of workers in the dairy industry, and if there could be a change in visa policy. King’s suggestion is that those who come into the country on a temporary visa should have to put up a bond. He said it would work similarly to when you swipe your card at the beginning of a hotel stay. They keep your number on file in case they need it. The same would apply here — the account wouldn’t be charged unless you overstay your visa — then the money would be put into a fund to assist law enforcement to find those that have overstayed their visas.

He also mentioned that before we have major immigration reform, he thinks we need to close the border. Also, King says that there are millions of people in the US who are able-bodied, but who are not working. He says these people could fill the open positions at the dairy farms and elsewhere.

King also mentioned that he believes the health insurance business needs to be regulated not from the federal level, but from the state level. He says he hopes that the Supreme Court will rule that the last remnants of ObamaCare are unconstitutional.

February 15, 2020 - 4:03 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says having President Trump tout his prescription drug bill during the State of the Union speech has been a boost. Now, Grassley’s hoping to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and this is his message:

Grassley, a Republican, and the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee have been working on legislation that would limit prescription drug price hikes to the rate of inflation. The bill would lower out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare, too.

Bills need just 51 votes to pass the senate, but at least 60 senators must agree to allow debate. Grassley says he’s telling his Republican colleagues in the Senate the polls show voters consider prescription drug costs a top concern.

A dozen Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of Grassley’s bill.

Washington, D.C. — Iowa’s two U.S. Senators, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley want answers on how a suspected al Qaeda leader, who is wanted for murder in the deaths of two Iraqi police officers, was able to receive refugee status in the United States.

Ali Yousif Ahmed Al-Nouri was admitted as a refugee in 2008 and later obtained full U.S. citizenship. He was arrested recently, after a federal magistrate issued a warrant for his arrest. The warrant was based on an extradition request from the government of Iraq on charges of killing two Iraqi police officers in 2006.

Ernst and Grassley sent a letter to the State Department, FBI and Citizenship and Immigration Services, seeking a briefing to allow them to better understand how al-Nouri was able to enter this country pretending to be a refugee, as well as the national security implications of letting a member of a terrorist organization to not only enter the U.S., but gain full citizenship.

To read the letter sent by Senators Ernst and Grassley, CLICK HERE.

February 15, 2020 - 12:53 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — A celebration kicked off Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.

Doris Kelley is the chair of the celebration committee.

Kelley says they took some time to come up with the theme.

Kelley says the “hard won” part is the 70 years it took fighting to get the vote. And the “not done” part is the work to continue gaining equality for women in a number of areas.

The opening event was Friday morning in Ames.

Statewide Iowa — Iowa officials are sanctioning the owner of an insurance agency in Missouri a second time for what the Iowa Insurance Division describes as misleading mailers.

John A. McAfee owns McAfee and Associates in Hannibal, Missouri. Officials in the Iowa Insurance Division say his insurance agency mailed deceptive materials to Iowans.

A year ago, state officials told McAfee he was not to send mailers to any Iowa address that
create a false impression the mailer was sent by the government. Last February, McAfee was ordered to pay five-thousand dollars to Iowa’s Consumer Education and Litigation Fund. He’s now been ordered to pay a total of 10-thousand dollars in civil penalties, plus 18-hundred dollars more to the State of Iowa to cover the cost of the investigation.

A news release from the Iowa Insurance Division says McAfee’s mailers were sent to generate marketing leads for life insurance, but that information was not disclosed on the mailers. The person answering the phone at McAfee’s agency in Hannibal asked that reporters not call the agency again for comment.

Image from KIWA Image Archive

February 15, 2020 - 11:14 am - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — A bill to let more potent medical marijuana products be sold in Iowa has cleared initial review in the Iowa House, but the bill also would limit the total amount of THC patients could be sold over a 90 day period.

Representative John Forbes, a Democrat from Urbandale, says some patients are already taking more THC over a three-month period than the bill would allow.

Governor Reynolds vetoed a bill last year after members of a state advisory board raised objections. THIS bill would implement the board’s latest recommendation, a limit of four-and-a-half grams of THC over 90 days. Republican Representative Jarad Klein of Keota says he’ll keep discussing the THC limit with the advisory board and the governor.

The bill is now eligible for consideration in a House committee. Under the state’s medical cannabis program, there are licensed growers, producers and sellers of medical marijuana to Iowans with a limited number of medical condition like Multiple Sclerosis and chronic epilepsy.

Northwest Iowa — Scammers continue to try to find ways to separate you from your money. The electric bill scam is raising its head again, say Alliant Energy officials.

We’ve heard it before. Alliant says they have reports again of customers in Wisconsin and Iowa receiving calls from scammers pretending to be Alliant Energy. These callers threaten to cut off power in a few hours unless immediate payment is made.

Alliant Energy spokesperson Mike Wagner says that’s just not how they do business. They do NOT call customers and demand immediate payment.

He says they also do not ask for payment over email.

According to Wagner, scammers can make it appear that the calls are coming from Alliant Energy. Some scammers may provide a different phone number that spoofs their answering system and automated menu.

Again, he says Alliant Energy’s official phone number is 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268), and that is the only number to call.

According to Wagner, the power is in the hands of the customer. (no pun intended)

Wagner says that if you receive a call like this:

§ STOP: Scammers are counting on you being too alarmed to check your account status. Hang up the phone.

§ THINK: Chances are you do not owe the amount the scammers claim.

§ CHECK: Visit Alliant’s website or call. He says they can tell you how much is due and when.

That website again is alliantenergy.com. The phone number is 1-800-ALLIANT, which in digits is 1-800-255-4268.

February 14, 2020 - 3:24 pm - Posted in News

Boone, Iowa — The Iowa DNR reports a drop in the number of deer taken by hunters this year. DNR Wildlife Biologist, Tyler Harms, says the drop coincides with a drop in the number of hunters.

The deer taken dropped to 94 thousand — compared to nearly 108-thousand the year before. Harms says an outbreak of disease is likely behind the drop in license sales.

Harms says some hunters want to help the deer recover from such outbreaks.

Harms says he expects future deer season will return to harvests of 100-thousand or more.

The state also reported the most positive tests for Chronic Wasting Disease this season since it started the testing. Harms says that is also a concern.

Harms says hunters have been very helpful in trying to manage the spread of C-W-D. He says they can continue to do that by following some simple steps.

He says transporting the carcasses of deer that are infected can spread the disease.

Des Moines, Iowa — The 32 Republicans in the Iowa Senate have endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment that says the state’s founding document does not protect abortion rights. Senator Zach Whiting is a Republican from Spirit Lake.

All 18 Democrats in the Senate, including Senator Eric Giddens of Cedar Falls, voted against the proposal.

Republican Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull, who is running for Congress, says the proposal leaves it up to voters to decide if women should have a right to an abortion.

Senator Jackie Smith, a Democrat from Sioux City, says the proposed amendment is an extreme attack on women and their health care.

A similar proposal did not come up for a vote in the Republican-led Senate last year — and Thursday night, Governor Kim Reynolds tweeted her thanks for this year’s Senate action. If the House passes the proposed amendment this session, it’ll have to be passed again in 2021 or 2022 before it could be submitted to a vote of the people.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — At their regular meeting on Monday night at the Forster Community Center, the Rock Rapids City Council conducted a public hearing to discuss the South Second Avenue project.

City Engineer Gary Kurth introduced the project, which he says will include pavement and utility replacement from Union Street to Fairlamb street on South Second, and most of South Bradley and South Dickinson Streets from First Avenue to Second Avenue. Kurth says the project will also include a sump pump drainage line connected with the storm sewer.

Kurth says the earliest the project could start would be in April, but the bids have not been let yet, and it depends on the contractor’s schedule.

In 1974, Highway 9 was re-done, and Second Avenue was the highway detour. During the public hearing, Jim Tobin, who lives in another part of town, said that there should have been funds from the state highway department that should be available to re-do Second Avenue now. City Administrator Jordan Kordahl says they’ve checked many sources, and there are no records of any funds received from the Iowa D.O.T.

Other comments included that the street projects should be assessed to everyone in town and that some of the money that the city gets from the Riverboat Foundation should go toward the streets.

The council passed resolutions of necessity, directing preparations of plans and specifications, and ordering bids for the project.