News, State Feed

Look at the not-so-itsy-bitsy spider an Iowa couple found

A southern Iowa couple is shaken up after finding an unexpected visitor of the eight-legged variety.

At first, the Templetons spotted a spider with a 2 1/2-inch leg span scurrying across their living room in their Russell home. Once they trapped the creature, they wondered what it was.

At first glance, they were convinced it was the extremely venomous Brazilian wandering spider, which can sometimes cross borders from its native Brazil through banana imports.


Democrat John Norris launches bid for Iowa governor

John Norris, a Montgomery County native who worked in the administrations of Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and President Barack Obama, has entered the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

“I just got fed up with this governor and the Republican Legislature doing everything for special interests and not the people of Iowa,” Norris said of his decision to run.

Norris, 58, listed health care, water quality and education among the key issues facing the state. He called the 2017 Iowa legislative session “destructive to our future.”


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Report: Iowa’s budget shortfall projected to get worse

Iowa’s fiscal 2017 budget, already propped up with nearly $118 million in cuts and transfers and $131 million in IOUs from reserves, took another hit Monday when a state agency reported a $104 million shortfall from even those downgraded expectations.

The news, although not a final accounting of the fiscal year that ended Friday, increases the chances that lawmakers will be called back to Des Moines in special session yet this year to deal again with the budget.


Iowa Supreme Court Rules Against Traffic Camera Tickets

The Iowa Supreme Court has dealt another blow to traffic camera tickets in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Muscatine.

Iowa’s high court is the second to reject requests to continue issuing traffic tickets during an appeal of an Iowa Department of Transportation order to turn off or move traffic cameras in the three cities, according to a ruling filed on Wednesday by Justice Brent Appel.


Swearngin sworn in as new Chief of DNR Law Enforcement Bureau

SwearnginDES MOINES, Iowa – Today, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Bureau named Jeff Swearngin as the new Chief to lead the bureau.

Swearngin has been serving as the interim chief since Mark Sedlmayr’s retirement in April. The Law Enforcement Bureau has 90 Conservation Officers, including six supervisors, six recreational safety officers, and 78 field officers. All Conservation Officers are certified state peace officers with the authority to enforce all Iowa laws. The Conservation Officers enforce laws related to hunting, trapping, fishing, navigation, commercial fishing, snowmobiling, and all-terrain vehicles. They also investigate any incidents related to outdoor recreation. Learn more about the DNR’s Conservation Officers by clicking here.

“Jeff Swearngin brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table as he leads our Law Enforcement Bureau,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp. “We are glad to have him lead the Bureau forward and help us further the mission of the DNR.”

“I am honored to lead and serve with the dedicated, professional Conservation Officers of the Iowa DNR,” Swearngin said. “Together I know we will accomplish the goals set forth and continue to serve the people of our great state the best we can.”

Swearngin was born in Jackson, Mississippi and moved to Iowa in 1974. He attended both the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University. He graduated from ISU in 1984 with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. Swearngin began his career as a Natural Resource Technician with the Polk County Conservation Board before he was promoted to a Park Ranger in 1990. He was a graduate of the 121st class of ILEA, where he also served as the class president.

In 2005, Swearngin began his career with the Iowa DNR as a sworn Conservation Officer and was assigned to Polk County. Since then, he’s served as a District Supervisor and most recently the Deputy Chief since January 2015.

Swearngin serves as the Iowa representative on the Mississippi Flyway Council Law Enforcement Committee.

Swearngin is an avid deer, turkey, duck, pheasant, and dove hunter and also enjoys spending time on his boat fishing. He spends a great deal of his free time hunting and fishing with his son and grandkids.

Swearngin lives in Des Moines with his wife, Elaine. They have one son and two step-sons, and five grandchildren. 


An early peek at 8 Iowa Democrats lining up to run for governor

BOONE, Ia. —Boone County Democrats held a Picnic for the People at McHose Park here Saturday as an alternative to a big Republican Party event just a few miles away for U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst and other GOP dignitaries.

About 200 Democrats chowed down on pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, coleslaw and cupcakes. But their main course was speeches with stinging criticism of newly inaugurated Gov. Kim Reynolds and her predecessor, former Gov. Terry Branstad. They heard from eight hopefuls for Iowa's 2018 governor's race who are either official candidates or still exploring a campaign.


Medical marijuana businesses unsure about future in Iowa

Iowa's medical marijuana oil program will start in weeks, but obtaining the medicine will be difficult and manufacturers said it's unclear if the state's effort will be viable.

Although the cannabis oil program approved during the last legislative session will begin July 1, there is no immediate supplier of the oil in Iowa, and manufacturers in other states question whether enough people will enroll in the limited program to make it self-sustaining.


In Iowa, debt goes down as university aid goes up, but the future remains unclear as tuition increases loom

As the total amount of financial aid awarded to students at Iowa’s public universities continues to climb, the percentages of students graduating with debt seesaws down, as does the average indebtedness of those who do leave campus owing money.

Those trends, outlined in a new Board of Regents report, are noteworthy as state and federal support for student financial aid and for the universities’ general education budgets is declining.