IN THE NEWS
$3 million bond for man accused of killing trooper
Bond has been set at $3 million for a Grundy Center man accused of killing a state trooper in a standoff April 9. Michael Thomas Lang, 41, was taken to jail after he was released from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, where he was treated for multiple gunshot wounds he received in the shootout at his barricaded home. Lang is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault on an officer.
Budget transparency: Iowa House Republicans rejected Democrats’ attempts to increase spending transparency by Gov. Kim Reynolds while approving a budget of more than $150 million for certain state departments that included $100 million for broadband infrastructure.
Drivers education: Changes that appear likely to become state law would more than double the time required for teenagers pursuing a driver’s license to spend driving with a parent, but eliminate the need for an instructor, both in the classroom and behind the wheel.
City settlement: An insurer for the City of Cedar Rapids will pay $8 million to a Black motorist who was paralyzed after a white police officer shot him during a 2016 traffic stop, the city announced Monday. It’s the most expensive settlement over allegations of police misconduct in Iowa history.
THEY SAID …
“We’re celebrating justice as if it’s this rare thing that we rarely get to taste. … Justice shouldn’t be this sweet moment that we get to have every once in a while.”
--- Iowa Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, after a former police officer was found guilty of killing a Black man while in the officer’s custody
“By the time you get to South Cackalacky, we can clear it all up for the rest of the nation.”
--- U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, while saying Iowa’s caucuses should remain first in the nation
ODDS AND ENDS
Alcohol delivery: The Iowa Senate approved a bill to allow businesses holding a liquor license to contract with third-party businesses like Uber or DoorDash to deliver alcoholic beverages to customers.
Electric mapping: An updated interactive map for electric service territory boundaries in Iowa has been announced. Officials with the Iowa Utilities Board and Office of the Chief Information Officer have collaborated since September on the project.
Mental health: Gov. Kim Reynolds announced $11.5 million in federal relief funding is available to assist public schools in providing mental health support and other wraparound services to pre-K-12 students.
THE WATER COOLER
Vaccination assistance: Gov. Kim Reynolds announced all Iowans eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can now use 211 to receive assistance with making a vaccination appointment. Iowans can simply dial 211, and a navigator will help the individual make an appointment.
Bond savings: State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald said he has refinanced Iowa’s tobacco settlement bonds, resulting in more than $167 million in savings over the life of the bonds thanks to lower interest rates.
Tax holiday: Members of a Senate committee voted to approve legislation proposing to expand Iowa’s annual sales tax holiday to include emergency preparedness supplies.
IN THE NEWS
Vaccine hesitancy growing in Iowa
The number of Iowa counties that did not need their entire allotment of COVID-19 vaccines more than doubled over the past week and now includes nearly half of the state. Forty-three of Iowa’s 99 counties rejected some or all new vaccine shipments from the state because they have not yet used previous allotments, state public health officials said. That’s up from 20 counties just one week prior. Most of those 43 counties are clustered in the state’s northwestern region, state public health officials said.
Vaccination cards: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and a bipartisan group of attorneys generals sent letters to Twitter, eBay, and Shopify to urge them to prevent their platforms from being used to sell fraudulent COVID-19 cards.
COVID danger: The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s leader told top legislative leaders that a Jan. 26 inspection at the Capitol did not turn up a COVID-19 violation but did raise concerns “of the potential for employee illnesses related to exposure to the coronavirus.”
Branstad ruling: For a second time, a judge ruled that former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad does not have to testify in a long-running lawsuit brought by an investigator who was fired in 2013 shortly after filing a complaint about Branstad’s state vehicle speeding.