Spencer, Iowa — The Iowa State Patrol will soon be checking retailer compliance with Iowa’s tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vapor product laws. But the Patrol tells us that it’s part of an education effort and handing out citations is not the main point of the program.

Known as I-PLEDGE, the program is a partnership with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) to educate local retailers and to enforce those laws, says Sergent Vince Kurtz with the Iowa State Patrol.

He says it’s a two-pronged approach.

Kurtz says part of the effort will also be educating retailers and their employees what products are not legal to sell to those under the age of 18. He says cigarettes and other tobacco products are included, but so are vapor products such as Juul and the like.

Since the program’s inception in 2000, the statewide tobacco compliance rate has grown to 91%. By participating in the program, the Iowa State Patrol has committed to do its part to increase the compliance rate even more this year.

The Patrol says that I-PLEDGE places emphasis on retailer training. Clerks who successfully complete an online training course and then pass an exam will become I-PLEDGE certified. This allows a retail establishment to use an affirmative defense against a civil penalty if the certified clerk makes an illegal sale.

To take the I-PLEDGE training or search certification records go to https://abd.iowa.gov/.

Northwest Iowa — Iowa 4th District U.S. Representative Steve King has announced that some 200 pro-family leaders have sent a letter to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy requesting that he reinstate Congressman King to his committee assignments.

King took to Twitter to announce the letter, tweeting, “200 pro-family leaders wrote @GOPLeader McCarty asking him “to do the right thing and reinstate my committees.” King’s tweet continued, “They know when the ‘outrageous misquote’ of a biased & liberal NY Times takes free rein to ‘falsely brand’ Republicans, no conservative is safe.”

The letter to Congressman McCarthy that King mentioned in his tweet can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.


February 12, 2019 - 3:33 pm - Posted in News

Larchwood, Iowa — A garage and its contents and part of a house were destroyed in a fire on Sunday, February 10, 2019, near Larchwood, and authorities say the home is uninhabitable at this point.

According to Larchwood Fire Chief Tony DeSmet, about 12:50 p.m., the Larchwood Fire Department was called to the report of a house fire at 1755 100th Street, three miles north of Larchwood or three and a half miles east of the casino.

The chief says the fire department saw the attached garage of the house on fire as they approached the scene. The fire also advanced into the kitchen part of the home. He says they began with an exterior attack and eventually switched to an interior attack.

DeSmet says no injuries were reported.

The fire department was assisted by the Inwood and Lester Fire Departments, Larchwood Emergency Medical Service and Rescue, the Lester Rescue Squad, and Lyon County Emergency Management.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined, but the origin of the fire was in the garage. The homeowner stated that they did have a heater in the garage but it’s not known if that was the cause of the blaze.

Chief DeSmet reports that the garage and its contents, including a mid-2000s pickup and a skid loader were totaled, the kitchen was destroyed, and there was smoke damage throughout the home.

He says the approximately 40 firefighters were on scene until 4 p.m. He says the Larchwood Fire Department was later called back for a flare up as well.

Statewide Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds is hinting she may have reservations about a bill that would end the permit process for buying and carrying a concealed handgun in Iowa.

Monday, a Senate subcommittee advanced a plan to do away with the gun permit requirement.

Reynolds was a member of the state senate in 2010. The law enacted that year removed the discretion county sheriffs had in denying gun permits. The law created a statewide standard and requires sheriffs to issue gun permits, with very limited exceptions. Reynolds says her staff will track the bill that would do away with that permit process.

A year ago, Reynolds called Iowa’s gun laws “reasonable and responsible” and she expressed support for retaining the permit process for acquiring handguns. Tuesday Reynolds told reporters she has often thought about applying for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Reynolds and her husband were hunting near Centerville in early 2015 when she shot the deer.

Washington, DC — With a Friday deadline looming to avoid another partial federal government shutdown, Congressional Democrats and Republicans have reached an agreement, at least in principle, over border security.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, says he’s hopeful all parties, including President Trump, will be able to agree to the compromise.

The partial shutdown that started in late December ran a record 35 days and furloughed 800-thousand federal workers, or forced some to work without pay. Grassley is putting his trust in the conference committee that the compromise they’ve created will be acceptable and bipartisan.

Grassley says no details are being released about the compromise, though reports indicate it includes $1.3-billlion to put up 55 miles of fencing at the border, a long way from the $5.7-billion and 2-thousand miles of wall the president wanted. With seven months remaining in the fiscal year, Grassley says $1.3-billion is likely all the government can afford to spend on a fence.

Reports say the agreement would pay for a fence made of metal slats, not the concrete wall the president was pushing. It would also cut the number of beds in border detention centers from around 50-thousand to around 40-thousand. Grassley says firm details about the proposal will be out soon.

February 11, 2019 - 3:35 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — A bill to get rid of permit requirements for buying and carrying a pistol or revolver in Iowa has cleared its first hurdle in the Iowa state senate.

Scott Jones, a Virginia-based lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, was in Des Moines to speak at a hearing in the capitol Monday.

Jane Robinette of Urbandale wore a t-shirt to the hearing that the read, “America Needs Gun Safety.”

Jim Hirschberg of Lohrville argued the fee infringes on a constitutional right to protect life and property.

Tim Coonan, a lobbyist for Every Town for Gun Safety, says Iowa gun laws already are among the most permissive in the country.

Two Republicans on a subcommittee voted to make the bill eligible for debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Democrat on the subcommittee said he was concerned about giving Iowans considering suicide, especially veterans, quicker access to guns.

February 11, 2019 - 1:41 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — An Iowa State University economist says after four decades, it’s time to update the state’s bottle and can deposit law.

Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes says the nickel deposit on plastic, glass and aluminum containers of alcohol and soft drinks should have been indexed for inflation. The deposit should be at least 17-cents today if that had happened, and the one-cent handling fee for redemption centers would be three cents. Hayes says raising the deposit to that level — and making other beverage containers subject to the deposit — would increase recycling.

Late last week, Hayes addressed members of two key legislative committees that are considering changes to the bottle deposit law. One proposal would place the five-cent deposit fee on water bottles, sports drinks and other non-carbonated and non-alcoholic beverage containers. Two other proposals would double the fee redemption centers get, in hopes of expanding the number of non-retail locations where Iowans may take their empties and get their deposit money back. Hayes is urging legislators to take action.

According to the Container Recycling Institute, more than 10-thousand TONS of plastic water bottles and other non-carbonated drink containers that could be recycled is thrown into Iowa’s landfills each year.

Statewide Iowa — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says motorists using a smart phone while they drive are “extremely dangerous” and she’s open to considering legislation to crack down on the behavior.

Current Iowa law bans texting while driving, something Reynolds voted for when she was a member of the Iowa Senate. A Senate subcommittee this week advanced a bill that would prohibit drivers from even using cell phones unless the device is in “hands-free” mode.

The bill would raise the fine to 100-bucks for drivers caught using a cell phone while behind the wheel.

If the bill under consideration in the senate becomes law, drivers in a serious wreck while on their cell phone would face stiff fines and could have their driver’s licenses suspended.

February 8, 2019 - 2:04 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The Iowa Department of Public Health program which helps kids get the proper dental care held steady in the past year at a little more than 50-thousand cases.

Department oral health consultant Stephanie Chickering says that goes a little against past trends for what they call the “I-Smile” program.

She says they have helped a variety of different kids.

Chickering, who is a dental hygienist, says getting the kids to the dentist can make a difference beyond helping them prevent cavities and having a nice smile.

She says it not unusual to find a child who has acted out has done so because they had tooth pain or dental issues.

And Chickering says feeling good about your smile can help kids feel good overall about themselves. She says the program is paid for in part through state funding.

Chickering says there is a lot of demand and funds are always tight, so they try hard to make the most out of what is available. There are 23 I-Smile coordinators around the state who are responsible for working with children and families; dentists and dental office staff; medical providers; school nurses, teachers and administrators; businesses; civic organizations; and social service organizations. The coordinators work for county health departments or private, non-profit organizations to administer I-Smile in all 99 Iowa counties.

Northwest Iowa — Despite Punxsatawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring last Saturday, winter is hanging on here in northwest Iowa.

Snow and blowing snow combined for a Blizzard Warning for the area Thursday, although not much snow fell in northwest Iowa. However, with the gusty northwest winds, not much snow was needed to severely limit visibility, causing schools to close, basketball games to be canceled, and many businesses to either close early or not open at all.

After the snow system moved through the area it’s back into the deep freeze, with lows of 10-below zero common Thursday night, and a stiff northwest wind dropping wind chills into the dangerous territory.

Jim Murray is a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, and he says Friday will be another bitterly cold day in northwest Iowa.

After Saturday’s rebound into the teens for high temperatures, the mercury should reach the teens again Sunday, and may reach the lower 20’s by Monday.