Law giving caucus time off moves forward in Iowa Senate DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa Senate committee has approved a bill requiring employers to give time off to non-essential workers so they can attend Iowa's presidential caucuses. The State Government Committee in the Democratic-controlled Senate approved the bill Wednesday. It would mandate that employers provide unpaid leave to workers who want to attend their precinct caucus. There are exemptions for jobs that affect public health or safety, or if employers could show that they would experience economic distress. The legislation will move to the full Senate. It is not clear how it will fare in the Republican-controlled House. The Iowa Democratic Party supports the bill as part of an effort to expand caucus attendance. The Republican Party of Iowa has declined to offer an opinion. Iowa's presidential caucuses are scheduled for February 2016.
Iowa Senate panel OKs bill on minors using guns DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Senate panel has approved a bill that would lower the age at which children in Iowa could use guns with a parent's supervision. A three-member judiciary subcommittee approved the bill unanimously Wednesday. It heads to a full committee for consideration, though it needs to advance by Friday to beat a procedural deadline in the Legislature. The bill would make several changes to Iowa's gun laws, including legalizing the use of a suppressor to silence a weapon. It also would ban public access to a database of names of people with permits to carry and purchase weapons. The bill would lower the age that a minor could use a pistol or revolver with a parent's supervision from 14 to 7. A similar House bill has no age limit.
House committee OKs broadband bill with key changes DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A House committee has approved Governor Terry Branstad's broadband bill, but made several key changes in how the legislation will support expanding high-speed Internet in Iowa. A full commerce committee voted 22-1 Wednesday in support of the bill, which in its latest version would strip away $5 million in state funds for a grant program. Lawmakers agreed to instead fund the program through federal and private dollars. It's unclear how much money will immediately be available for the program, which aims to help service providers build up infrastructure for broadband, also known as high-speed Internet. The bill also would expand a property tax program from three years to 10 years. Representative Peter Cownie, a West Des Moines Republican, says other changes to the bill are possible.
Senate panel OKs plan for more radon prevention in new homes DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Builders in Iowa would be required to install radon mitigation systems in new homes under legislation that has won approval in an Iowa Senate committee. The bill moved out of the State Government Committee on Wednesday. Under the proposal, new homes must be built with radon mitigation pipes. If the homeowner discovers radon, they can add a fan to use the system. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can leak through cracks in building foundations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls radon the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The agency also says Iowa's 99 counties are in the agency's highest risk zone for exposure. A similar bill was approved by the Democratic-majority Senate two years ago but failed to advance in the Republican-controlled House.
Iowa counties hire engineers to oversee proposed pipeline FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — At least three Iowa counties have hired engineers to oversee the installation of a proposed underground oil pipeline, pending its approval. The Fort Dodge Messenger reports that Webster County on Tuesday approved the hire of an engineer to survey the pipeline's construction if approved by the Iowa Board of Utilities. Dakota Access, LLC, a unit of Energy Transfer Partners, applied in January for the structure that would cut through 18 Iowa counties. Calhoun and Sac counties have also secured engineering services. Webster County officials say the engineer is responsible for drainage districts. They say future agreements will likely cover the 24 roads the pipeline would cross. The proposed pipeline would carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to Patoka, Illinois.
Woman dies in weekend house fire in rural Iowa MANNING, Iowa (AP) — Officials say one woman died in a house fire in rural Iowa last weekend. The Carroll County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that 47-year-old Julia Schlichte, of Manning, was found dead inside the home located about three miles northeast of town. Investigators say the fire that consumed the house has left it in complete disrepair. Authorities say they are awaiting autopsy results to determine Schlichte's cause of death. No other injuries were reported. The sheriff says the source of the fire that occurred early Saturday morning remains under investigation, though foul play is not suspected.
Trial of man charged with 2013 murder begins in Waterloo WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — The trial of a man accused of shooting to death an 18-year-old in 2013 is underway in Waterloo. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that testimony began Wednesday in the case against 24-year-old Perquondis Holmes, who is charged with first-degree murder and two other crimes. He was arrested in connection with the November 2013 slaying of DaeQuan Campbell. Authorities say Campbell died of gunshot wounds after a car he was driving hit a garage. They say Holmes had fired shots and fled the scene. Tamaris Gary, a friend of Campbell, says he was in the car with Campbell when they began following a Ford Mustang to a parking lot, where a person appeared outside the car and began firing. Gary identified Holmes as the shooter during his testimony.
Change of plea scheduled for man accused of posing as actor DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for a California man accused of posing as an actor from the "Twilight" series who previously pleaded guilty to federal pornography charges. Online court records show 33-year-old David LaVera, of San Diego, is set to change his plea Thursday in federal court in Des Moines. LaVera pleaded not guilty in October to charges of sexual exploitation of a child and possession of pornography. An attorney for LaVera did not immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment about his change of plea. Authorities say LaVera posed as "Kiowa Gordon," an actor in the "Twilight" series, and visited two schools in Newton while in Jasper County last year. He also faces state charges of enticing a minor, carrying weapons and third-degree sexual abuse.
Authorities testify in trial of man accused of killing girl WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (AP) — Authorities involved with the investigation into the 2005 death of a 5-year-old Iowa girl have testified in the trial of a man accused of killing her. Floyd County Chief Deputy Jeff Crooks was first to take the stand Wednesday in the case against 35-year-old Casey Frederiksen, who is charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault. Prosecutors allege Frederiksen sexually abused Evelyn Miller, the daughter of his former girlfriend, and stabbed her to death while babysitting her. He was arrested in 2012. Crooks says he'll never forget what he saw when Evelyn's body was found in the Cedar River a few days after she was reported missing. He says her body appeared water worn. During cross examination, Crooks testified there was no DNA evidence or weapon connecting Frederiksen to her death.
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