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Gazette Daily News Podcast, February 3
We'll get one more day that feels like February on Friday, before the next week will feel a lot more like March. According to the National Weather Service it will be mostly sunny in the Cedar Rapids area, with a high near 11 degrees. Wind chills will be as low as -25 degrees. Temperatures will fall to near 6 by 8 p.m., but then rise back up to 13 degrees before the end of the evening.
Inflation, labor costs and supply chain issues have upped the total cost and expanded the construction timeline for a new Steindler North Liberty Ambulatory Surgery Center planned near where the University of Iowa is building its new hospital — which also recently saw substantial cost increases.
The State Health Facilities Council this week unanimously approved a request from Steindler to increase its total project budget from $19.2 million to $29.3 million and to extend its construction timeline a year — from November 2023 to November 2024.
Referencing the war between Russia and Ukraine — the No. 3 and No. 4 global aluminum producers — Steindler’s application noted its price escalation “is similar to what UIHC reported in their request for an extension, as well as what similar projects are reporting across the U.S. and globally.”
A California man who was the leader of a methamphetamine trafficking operation, shipping “hundreds of pounds” of the drug from California to Iowa, was convicted Wednesday in federal court.
David Poitier Belton, 37, of Compton, Calif., pleaded to one count of conspiracy to distribute meth and one count of being a felon and drug user in possession of a firearm.
Belton, also known as “Blood,” admitted he and others, between 2017 and March of last year, transported 30- to 60-pound shipments of ice meth from Los Angeles to Cedar Rapids, according to the plea agreement.
Belton paid other individuals to transport the ice meth, typically in a vehicle that contained a specially made hidden compartment, according to the plea. Once the drugs arrived in Cedar Rapids, Belton or his associate would retrieve the meth and distribute it to other members of the trafficking ring to sell on the streets.
Iowa’s K-12 public schools would get a 3 percent increase in per-pupil state funding for the next school year under proposals from the Republican majorities in the House and Senate — larger than the increase sought by the governor but smaller than what Democrats wanted.
The Iowa Senate approved the funding proposal Thursday. The House will consider the proposal next week; Republicans there also are supporting a 3 percent increase.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposed budget, published in January, included a 2.5 percent increase in per pupil K-12 public school funding. Republican legislative leaders said they have not discussed the increased funding level with Reynolds, and her office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Democrats in the Senate this week proposed a public school funding increase of roughly 6 percent, which would amount to an additional $267 million. Democrats said that equals what Republicans have proposed for the new private school financial aid program this year plus a reduction in corporate income taxes approved last year.