116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A Sierra Club-sponsored public hearing Tuesday on the use of eminent domain for the construction of proposed CO2 pipelines across Iowa drew both opposition and support.
The majority of the more than 100 people who gathered in the Statehouse rotunda were opposed.
Maria Trinidad of Des Moines was with dozens of members of Laborers Local 177 supporting construction because “local jobs mean local paychecks.”
An amendment on the administration and regulation budget would prohibit the Iowa Utilities Board from scheduling hearings on the use of eminent domain until after Feb. 1, 2023.
POACHERS SENTENCED: An investigation that began as a turkey poaching case last fall has concluded with five people pleading guilty to 48 wildlife charges. They were assessed nearly $83,000 in fines and liquidated damages.
State conservation officers were executing a search warrant at the home of Devon Lewis, 26, of rural Washta, in November when they discovered evidence of other poaching activity. Once an additional search warrant was secured, investigators uncovered evidence of a year-round poaching network involving at least 70 deer, four turkeys, ducks, raccoons and red fox dating back to at least 2018.
State Conservation Officer Kirby Bragg said evidence from the lengthy investigation showed the poachers would shoot wildlife out of season, over bait and from vehicles, often without the proper tags. The deer were primarily bucks with antlers.
Lewis pleaded guilty to 23 citations with fines and damages totaling $37,600 and a minimum seven-year hunting license suspension.
The others pleading guilty were Taylor Luvaas, 27, of Schaller, 14 citations, fines and damages of $31,118, seven-year hunting license suspension; Jacob Fouts, 23, of Cherokee, six citations, fines and damages of $5,861 and hunting license suspension; Dylan Lewis, 22, of Cushing, three citations, fines and damages of $5,251, hunting license suspension; Austin Lewis, 19, of Cushing, two citations, fines and damages of $4,300.
The judge condemned five rifles, three shotguns and three bows used to commit the crimes.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources was assisted by the sheriff’s offices and conservation boards in Ida and Woodbury counties.
JUDICIAL NOMINATING: The Iowa Senate on Tuesday approved changes to the judicial nominating process.
The changes boost the number of recommended candidates for appellate court openings from three to five, have the governor select lower-level judges instead of district court judges making that selection, and allow judges in contiguous counties to be eligible for a judicial opening, provided they move into the new district if selected.
HF 2481 passed on a party-line 31-16 vote, with Republicans supporting.
The bill previously passed the House, so with its Senate passage it heads to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk for her consideration.
RADON TESTING: The Iowa Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved HF 2412, which requires schools to establish a plan for at least one radon test in each attendance center before July 2027. The House approved it earlier, 93-2.
Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium, which is found in soil and rock throughout the United States. Radon travels through soil and enters buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundations. An estimated 400 Iowans die each year from radon exposure.
According to the Legislative Services Agency, the initial cost of radon testing in schools would range from $220,000 to $330,000. School districts may choose to use district employees trained in radon testing. Initial measurement specialist certification for radon testing is $275. Initial mitigation specialist certification for radon testing is $175. Training for an individual to receive both certifications is $400.
ABSENTEE BALLOTS: Voters wishing to vote by mail in the June 7 primary election now may request an absentee ballot.
The 70-day absentee ballot request period for the primary election is now open, and county auditors can begin mailing absentee ballots 20 days ahead of Election Day, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced.
Iowans can download the request form directly from the Iowa Secretary of State Office’s website. Requests must be received by the county auditor’s office by May 23. In-person absentee voting at the county auditor’s office is available through the day before the election, June 6.
Gazette Des Moines Bureau