A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Thursday, March 8, 2018:
DRUG TAKE-BACK: Legislators turned in 40 pounds of over-the-counter and prescription drugs as part of a take-back offered by the Iowa Department of Public Safety and Drake University pharmacy program, according to Rep. John Forbes, D-Des Moines, a pharmacist.
TICKET TO PRISON: Iowa Department of Corrections officials say tickets are now on sale for the public to tour the former Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison the weekend of April 14 to 15.
Originally built in 1839, the “Fort”, as it is known, is a historic landmark in southeast Iowa.
Prison officials say the public can visit the grounds and talk with retired staffers, who will be stationed at various areas throughout the facility.
Another option is to request a tour guide and be escorted through the facility.
Guests will get a detailed map that will provide them with a history of the maximum-security prison, which was replaced with a new prison in 2015 after being open for 176 years, before Iowa was a state.
More than 5,000 people visited the prison in 2017 during two weekend tours.
The three-hour tours are offered in the morning — 9 a.m. to noon — and afternoon — 1 to 4 p.m.
Visitors must be 18 years or older or accompanied by a parent or guardian to. Children under 12 are free with a donation of a non-perishable item for the Food Pantry.
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Tickets are available online at iowastatepen.com. Souvenirs are available online and the weekend of the event.
Proceeds from the tours and souvenirs go toward funding of the Historic Structures Report necessary for any future use of the prison.
GAS PRICES IN IOWA: Prices at Iowa service stations crept downward a little this week.
The weekly fuel price survey issued by the state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship reported the price of regular unleaded gasoline fell by 2 cents a gallon to an average $2.49. Information provided by AAA indicated that was 17 cents higher than one year ago. The national average on Tuesday was $2.53 per gallon, up a penny from last week’s price.
Meanwhile, retail diesel fuel prices in Iowa fell a penny from last week, with a statewide average of $2.94 per gallon. One year ago, diesel prices averaged $2.47 in Iowa. The current Iowa diesel price is 1 cent less than the national average.
For heating fuels in Iowa, propane prices dropped a penny for a statewide average of $1.46 per gallon. Home heating oil prices fell 3 cents from last week, ending with a statewide average of $2.40 a gallon.
Natural gas prices rose 14 cents at the Henry Hub reporting site and ended the week at $2.73/mmBtu.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Start creating laws in this state to make it easier to exercise your constitutional right to vote. We’ve certainly done it with gun rights. It’s time to treat our voters at least as well as our gun owners.” — Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, speaking in opposition to a bill described as a “cleanup bill” for the Secretary of State Office.