116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your update for Tuesday, May 18th.
Tuesday looks to be a rain-filled day. According to the National Weather Service, there will be a 60 percent chance of showers after 5 a.m. Tuesday morning in the Cedar Rapids area. Then the chance for showers will increase in the late morning into the early afternoon with a chance of thunder storm after noon. The chance of rainfall during this chunk of the day is listed at 90 percent. Tuesday night there will be a chance for, you guessed it, more showers and thunderstorms, with the chance for precipitation dropping down to 50 percent. The high temperature during all this should be around 66 degrees.
A significant overhaul of state tax policy and mental health funding is in the works, as Republicans in control of the state lawmaking process appear to have finally reached agreement on a variety of funding streams and policies.
The agreement that has proved elusive for weeks at the Iowa Capitol surfaced late Monday, when Republicans announced a compromise with other Republicans that signals the end of the 2021 legislative session is near. The Iowa Senate moved quickly, debating and passing the sweeping legislation Monday evening, mere hours after it was introduced.
The tax reform would do many things, but here are a few highlights: It would eliminate triggers that were a compromise trying to prevent the lowering of taxes before it reached certain revenue goals, it would shift mental health funding from property taxes to state funding, and it would eliminate a property taxes backfill, that was another compromise, providing $152 million in backfill to cities when Republicans cut property taxes previously. In an even shorter summary, it simplifies some funding streams, puts the onus on cities to raise local property taxes, and allows Republicans to give tax cuts sooner than they otherwise would have.
Transamerica Corporation, one of the largest employers in Cedar Rapids, is under review by the Iowa Insurance Division for a rash of complaints related to the company’s taking over customer service for Vanguard Annuity in December.
People who complained to the Insurance Division or the Iowa Attorney General said they couldn’t get through to Transamerica, an investment, retirement and life insurance company, to check on their investments, make transfers or seek payouts after the death of a loved one. Although customer service complaints aren’t unusual — especially for a large multinational company — gripes about Transamerica went up in January after Transamerica took over customer service for the Vanguard Variable Annuity block of business, said Chance McElhaney, spokesman for the Iowa Insurance Division.
The Iowa AG’s office reported having six complaints about Transamerica since Dec. 1. The Iowa Insurance Division would not say how many formal complaints it has received, but said office staff also has fielded phone calls about Transamerica that did not turn into formal complaints.
The Mollie Tibbetts murder trial began Monday with jury selection attempting to narrow down a jury from 175 people. Prosecutor Scott Brown warned prospective jurors that some of the evidence would be grisly, as it pertains to the stab wounds suffered by Tibbetts, causing her death in 2018. Cristhian Bahena Rivera is on trial for the death of Tibbetts after he led authorities to her body in a cornfield a month after she disappeared while jogging in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.
The Iowa Ideas 2021 virtual conference will be here before you know it, and we would like you to be our guest on the house. The Gazette is providing free access to this two-day gathering with more than 50 sessions- filled with thought-provoking local, and national speakers-- all ready to engage you on a variety of important and timely Iowa-issues. Join us October 14th and 15th for this can’t miss, idea-exchange experience. Learn more and register for the event at iowaideas.com.