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Week in Iowa
Recap of news from across the state
May. 6, 2022 6:00 am, Updated: May. 6, 2022 5:38 pm
In the news
CAUCUS REVAMP: Iowa Democrats are pledging to reform their presidential precinct caucuses in an attempt to keep their first-in-the-nation status — or close to it. The state party announced plans to make the quadrennial caucuses more accessible and simpler, but offered no details.
National Democratic Party leaders are in the process of reorganizing the party’s presidential nominating schedule for the 2024 elections, allowing all states to apply for consideration as one of the early voting states.
DAY CARES AND TEENS: Soon, 16-year-olds likely will be able to work unsupervised at Iowa day care centers, and all workers will be allowed to oversee more children. The legislation is awaiting only a signature from Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Republican lawmakers say the proposal will help child care centers address critical staffing shortages. Democrats warned the legislation could create dangerous scenarios.
FALLEN TROOPERS HONORED: Two Iowa State Patrol troopers who died in the line of duty in 2021 — Sgt. Jim K. Smith and Trooper Ted Benda — had their names added to the Iowa Peace Officer Memorial in a ceremony in Des Moines on Friday.
Smith died while trying to arrest an armed suspect in Grundy Center in April 2021. Benda, assigned to the patrol’s Oelwein Post, died in a crash while responding to a call. Benda, of rural Decorah, swerved to avoid a deer on Highway 51 north of Postville around 11:30 p.m. Oct. 14.
They said …
“We’re still working on it. We’re still talking to legislators. There’s no way I’m giving up on it. They’re still in session. I’m still working. — Gov. Kim Reynolds on her plan to use public money to pay private school tuition.
“The Republican Party of Iowa is committed to defending the unborn and will fight for every person's right to Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness. We must protect the most vulnerable in our society, especially those who have no voice.” — Jeff Kaufmann, Republican Party of Iowa chairman, on reports the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States in 1973
“Everyone deserves the right to make their own health care decisions, especially when it comes to reproductive health care. These decisions do not belong in the hands of politicians.” — Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, on reports the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade
Odds and ends
PAYING FOR CHILD CARE: Child care providers could ask families to pay the difference between the state’s child care assistance rate and what a center would normally charge under legislation on Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk.
Statehouse Republicans who pitched and approved the proposal say it would encourage child care providers to accept more families who use the state assistance program, which pays only 50 percent to 75 percent of the market rate.
BIG SETTLEMENT: The state will pay an $8 million settlement, believed to be one of the largest in state history, to the family of a Quad Cities-area man who was left unable to walk after being struck by an Iowa Department of Transportation snowplow blade in 2019.
Terry Bunting, of Silvis, Ill., suffered multiple fractures, including to his spine, pelvis, ribs and leg, and required eight surgeries during an 11-month hospitalization. Bunting, now 64, is unable to walk.
The water cooler
EAGLES DYING OF BIRD FLU: Bird flu is killing an alarming number of bald eagles and other wild birds, with many sick birds arriving at rehabilitation centers unsteady on their talons and unable to fly.
“It’s quite a sight to see an eagle with a 6-foot wingspan having uncontrollable seizures because of highly pathogenic avian influenza,” said Victoria Hall, executive director of the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center.
HAWKS IN NFL: The Iowa Hawkeyes’ Tyler Linderbaum, from Solon, was a first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens, four months after winning the Rimington Trophy as the best center in college football.
In 2020, the Hawkeyes’ Tristan Wirfs, from Mount Vernon, was a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He now has a Super Bowl ring and was a Pro Bowl pick.
The two wrestled each other in high school. And now they’re both in the NFL. About 1.2 percent of Division 1 football players get drafted by NFL teams.
More in the news
FOOD PRIZE: NASA climate research scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, who has spent much of her career explaining how global food production systems must adapt to a changing climate, was awarded the World Food Prize at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
She will receive the award and make a speech during an October ceremony in Des Moines. Nobel Prize laureate Norman Borlaug, an Iowan, created the prize. He is credited with savings hundreds of thousands of lives through his work on food production before his death in 2009.
MISSING MONEY: The former president of Iowa City Pride is accused of spending a little more than $35,000 of the organization’s funds on unauthorized transactions from May to November 2021.
Anthony Sivanthaphanith, 37, of Iowa City, was arrested Thursday morning on a charge of first-degree theft, a felony.
VACCINE TRIALS: University of Iowa Health Care has joined a clinical trial to study COVID-19 booster shots.
Researchers will test booster vaccines in various combinations to determine which provide the best immunity against existing and emerging COVID-19 variants.
The health care system is hoping to recruit 600 volunteers for the study. Applications are not yet open, though.
Gazette Des Moines Bureau