The Gazette Daily News Podcast, Feb. 15th Weekend Edition

This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your weekend update.

Be sure to subscribe to The Gazette Daily news podcast, or just tell your Amazon Alexa to “enable The Gazette Daily News skill" so you can get your daily briefing by simply saying “Alexa, what’s the news?"

The promised warmer weather is upon us. According to a forecast from the National Weather Service, the Cedar Rapids area should see a high near 37 degrees Saturday. The rising temperatures will lead to modulations in precipitation types, as a slight chance of snow before noon will turn into a slight chance of rain between noon and 3:00 p.m. After this period of wet stuff, the wind and precipitation should die down and it should be mostly cloudy for the rest of the weekend. The wind will continue to calm down Sunday, with a predicted high of 35 degrees.

Iowa Democratic Party officials have agreed to hire two high-profile lawyers to investigate the factors leading to a meltdown in the state’s leadoff presidential caucuses and how the party responded in the aftermath. The party’s State Central Committee voted during a teleconference call Thursday night to spend up to $50,000 to retain Nick Klinefeldt, a former U.S. attorney, and Bonnie Campbell, a former Iowa attorney general. Both lawyers are Democrats.

The move follows news this week that Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price resigned for his role in the botched caucus process.

A state court judge on Friday heard arguments on whether or not to dismiss a lawsuit challenging an Iowa law passed last year that would block Planned Parenthood of the Heartland from receiving federal grant money for sex education courses. Judge Paul Scott is considering whether to throw out the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa on behalf of Planned Parenthood. It challenges the law, arguing that it is a violation of free speech, due process and equal protection rights.

The law was another effort by conservative lawmakers in Iowa to end streams of government funding for Planned Parenthood due to the fact that the organization provides abortions. Although, to clarify, no state or federal funds go to funding abortions.

A new state report shows that Amana’s public wells, which are near sewage lagoons and land application of industrial waste, are at high risk for contamination.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently completed a source water assessment of the Amana Society’s six wells after high nitrate levels were discovered in December in three wells near High Amana.

The assessment shows all six of the Amana Society’s alluvial wells are “highly susceptible” to contamination because they are less than 25 feet from the surface and because there are potential contamination sources nearby.