IOWA VOTING RULES Hearing set on proposed new voter purge rule DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A hearing is scheduled for Thursday to allow the public to weigh in on a new rule that establishes procedures for removing voters from registration rolls if they cannot prove citizenship. The rule proposed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz is opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and other civil rights groups. They say the rule intimidates voters and claim Schultz doesn’t have the authority to pass such a rule without legislative approval. The rule was first proposed on an emergency basis before the November election but was temporarily halted by a judge after the ACLU filed a lawsuit to block it. The judge hasn’t yet issued a final ruling but Schultz now is moving forward with a permanent rule.
TAX COLLECTIONS-IOWA Officials: Tax collections in Iowa are up (Information in the following story is from: The Gazette, http://www.gazetteonline.com/) DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Tax collections in Iowa are up compared to the same halfway point a year ago. The Gazette reports net state receipts totaled more than $3.1 billion from July through December. That’s about $264 million, or about 9 percent, higher than the first six months of the previous fiscal year. The Legislative Services Agency says the percentage growth rate will likely dip in January because of processing days in the calendar. The Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference projected last month that the state treasury would end the current fiscal year with nearly $6.4 billion. That would be about a 3.3 percent increase over the last fiscal year.
CORN MILL ACCIDENT 1 worker dies, 1 injured in Cedar Rapids accident CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say two employees at a corn wet mill in Cedar Rapids were preparing a fermentation tank for maintenance before an accident left one dead and the other injured. Cedar Rapids firefighters say the men were found unconscious Wednesday morning at a facility for Archer Daniels Midland Co. Officials believe the men encountered an oxygen-deficient environment that caused them to become unconscious. One of the workers died at Mercy Medical Center, and the other worker was being treated at another hospital. The men’s names and other details about the accident have not been released. ADM says the company has contacted the workers’ families. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the accident.
REAL ID-IOWA Iowa to issue IDs meeting new federal standards AMES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa transportation officials say state-issued identification cards that meet new federal security standards will be available soon. The state Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that the agency will begin issuing driver’s licenses and nonoperator’s identification cards on Jan. 15 that comply with the REAL ID Act. The card verifies a person’s identification and legal presence in the United States. The 2005 law requires identification cards to meet standards to enter federal buildings or board commercial flights. The federal compliance date varies according to a person’s birthday, and some screening is set to begin at the end of 2014. States faced a Jan. 15 deadline to meet the law’s compliance requirements. Travelers in noncompliant states will use passports for domestic flights.
TRUCKER-BREATH TESTS Iowa court to mull margin of error for breath test IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Supreme Court will decide whether it was appropriate for regulators to suspend the license of a trucker whose blood-alcohol concentration was barely over the limit for operating commercial vehicles. The court said Wednesday it would review the case of Brandon Dean Watson, who lost his license for one year after police said a breath test showed he had a .041 blood-alcohol concentration during a 2010 traffic stop. The limit for truckers is .04. Watson argued the Iowa Department of Transportation should not have suspended his license because of the test’s margin of error, which is .004. That means his concentration could have been below the limit. An appeals court rejected Watson’s argument, saying the law setting the alcohol limit for truckers doesn’t mention the margin of error.
MASON CITY STABBING Judge denies delay in Mason City murder trial (Information in the following story is from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/) MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) – A judge in northern Iowa has denied a man’s request to delay his upcoming murder trial. The Mason City Globe Gazette reports James Farnsworth II will stand trial starting Jan. 14 in Cerro Gordo County District Court. Judge Colleen Weiland made her ruling Wednesday after reviewing the various trial and time commitments of the court and counsel. Farnsworth is charged with first-degree murder in the April 14 slaying of 23-year-old Ian Decker. Farnsworth is free on a $200,000 cash bond.
UPPER IOWA PRESIDENT Upper Iowa University president resigns (Information in the following story is from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com) FAYETTE, Iowa (AP) – The president of Upper Iowa University in Fayette is stepping down after going on sabbatical in the fall. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported that university officials announced Wednesday that Alan Walker has resigned. Walker, who has led the school since 2004, has been on sabbatical since September. Reasons for the sabbatical and the resignation have not been released. Robert Firth, chairman of the Upper Iowa board of trustees, says the university increased enrollment and enhanced programs under Walker’s leadership. Firth credited Walker for “the global university that is Upper Iowa today.” Officials say the university will embark on a national search to find a new president. A search committee will be comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees.