STATE BUDGET-IOWA Iowa House OKs first round of budget plans DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa House has approved its first set of budget bills for this legislative session. Lawmakers voted Wednesday on legislation for transportation and administration. The measures largely matched the governor’s proposals for the fiscal year beginning July 1st. More controversial votes on tax cut proposals and additional education spending will come up later in the session. On transportation, the House approved $353 million to maintain Iowa’s roads and other responsibilities. That funding comes from fuel taxes and fees imposed on drivers. Lawmakers approved the administration budget and $55 million to cover the costs for several offices, including Governor Terry Branstad’s office. The House also debated Wednesday night funding for universities, community colleges and other education programs. These bills now go to the Senate.
LOW-INCOME TAX CREDIT Iowa Senate OKs tax break for low-income families DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Senate has approved a measure that would give a larger income tax break to low-income residents. Lawmakers passed the measure 35-15 Wednesday. It raises the state credit from 7 to 20 percent of a taxpayer’s federal earned income tax credit, so Iowa households that make under $45,000 a year would get about a $250 tax break. Democrat Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City, the bill sponsor, says it would reduce poverty in Iowa and help 210,000 families. Republican Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull says the proposed credit is too high and unrealistic. He proposed an amendment to offer a smaller tax break to more taxpayers, but it failed to garner enough support. The measure now heads to the House.
IOWA SCHOOLS-RADON Iowa Senate says schools should test for radon gas DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Senate has approved legislation that would require schools to test for radon. Lawmakers approved the measure 37-13 Wednesday with bipartisan support. It now heads to the House. The bill would require public and private schools to test for the gas and install a system to expel it from buildings. It also would require residential construction companies to install pipes to mitigate the colorless and odorless gas in new homes built after January 1st, 2015. The EPA says Iowa’s 99 counties are in the agency’s highest risk zone for gas exposure, which leaks through cracks in building foundations. The EPA says it is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S.
IOWA REGENTS-NOMINEES Iowa Senate gives mixed OK to regents nominees DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – An Iowa Senate panel has recommended just one of Governor Terry Branstad’s three nominees for the Board of Regents. The Senate Education Committee voted Wednesday to forward two of Branstad’s nominations to the full Senate without recommendation. Current Board President Craig Lang did not get the committee’s backing. Neither did Grimes businessman Robert Cramer. The panel did recommend confirming Webster City physician Subhash Sahai to the nine-member board that oversees the state’s three public universities. Both Sahai and Cramer are replacing retiring members. The nominations require a two-thirds approval vote in the Senate, where the Democrats hold a slim majority. Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames said he didn’t know whether there’s enough support in the full Senate to approve the nominations. Lang and Cramer underwent tough questioning during previous hearings.
CREDIT UNION-ROBBERY Iowa police: Robbery suspect fled in teller’s car DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Des Moines authorities are looking for a robbery suspect who they say took money from a credit union and used a teller’s vehicle as a get-away car. The Des Moines Police Department says the robbery happened Wednesday afternoon at the Greater Iowa Credit Union. Police say a male entered the credit union and showed the teller a note demanding money. The suspect wore a cover over his face and said he had a gun. He took an undisclosed amount of money and the teller’s car keys. The vehicle was parked a short distance away. A Polk County Sheriff’s deputy K-9 unit is trying to track the suspect.
BIG RIG-TRAIN CRASH Police: Train strikes big rig in Des Moines (Information in the following story is from: KCCI-TV, http://www.kcci.com) DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say the driver of a big rig suffered minor injuries after a train struck the vehicle in Des Moines and pushed it onto its side. Des Moines television station KCCI-TV reports the accident happened Wednesday afternoon. The impact rolled the 18-wheeler onto its side but did not derail the train. The driver was transported to a hospital with minor injuries. He says he didn’t see the oncoming train. The big rig was carrying a load of lime. The station says no other injuries were reported.
WASTEWATER DISCHARGE Officials say raw sewage bubbling from water ditch ELLIOTT, Iowa (AP) – Officials say raw sewage is bubbling up the middle of a ditch in southwest Iowa. The city of Elliott discovered the discharge Wednesday morning in an unnamed tributary of Coe Creek. The creek flows into the Nishnabotna River. Officials say one of the main pipes carrying sewage from town to a treatment station broke causing the spill. They are not sure when the discharge began, but they estimate up to 8,000 gallons is bubbling up per day. A company has been contracted to begin work Thursday on digging up the sewer line to fix it. The state Department of Natural Resources is cautioning children and pets to stay away from the creek for at least two days after the work is complete. The city will sample water around the discharge.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS Dake, Penn State headline NCAA championships DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Cornell’s Kyle Dake is seeking to take his place among the greatest college wrestlers of all time. Penn State will attempt to solidify its status as the nation’s pre-eminent program – in the backyard of its biggest rival, Iowa – when the NCAA championships start Thursday. Dake, a three-time NCAA champion, is just three days away from possibly becoming the first wrestler to win four national titles in four different weight classes. The team race figures to be a competition between the Big Ten’s best, led by the two-time defending champion Nittany Lions, Hawkeyes and Ohio State and Minnesota. Oklahoma State will also be in the mix.
NIT-INDIANA ST-IOWA Iowa blows past Indiana State 68-52 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Devyn Marble scored 24 points, Aaron White added 11 with 13 rebounds and Iowa cruised past Indiana State 68-52 in the opening round of the NIT on Wednesday night. Melshan Basabe had nine points and eight boards for the Hawkeyes (22-12), who won a home game in the NIT for the second straight season. Iowa will host Stony Brook in the second round on Friday night. Iowa shook off a sluggish start with a 19-4 run to open the second half. Playing before a sellout crowd of over 15,000, the Hawkeyes maintained a comfortable lead the rest of the way. Justin Gant had 16 points to lead Indiana State (18-15), which was playing in the NIT for the first time since 1978.