The Exchange, Water Quality, Solar Panels, Media Lab

Feb 1, 2018

Governor Kim Reynolds signs water quality bill

The Exchange 013118

Welcome to The Exchange on Siouxland Public Media. I’m Mary Hartnett.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law a 282- million dollar water quality bill passed in the Iowa Legislature last week..  The measure is a boon for farmers, in that it would mean about $150 million dollars in new funding for cover crops, bioreactors and saturated buffers as they seek to curb the high levels of nitrates and phosphorous entering Iowa's waterways.

But for others, including many environmental groups, the bill is a drop-in-the-bucket and a sop to the Iowa Farm Bureau.  Spirit Lake Republican Representative John Wills is the floor manager of the bill.  Wills says the measure isn’t perfect, but it is a first step toward dedicating funding to a successful nutrient reduction strategy.

John Wills (R) Spirit Lake


That was Spirit Lake Republican John Wills, the floor manager of the water quality bill passed by the Iowa Legislature last week.  Democrats voted against the measure, saying it was created to placate the farm bureau, and it contained no new sources of funding and no opportunities for collaboration on local watershed projects.  Ocheyedan Independent State Senator David Johnson is a former Republican who voted against the measure.  He says the bill is Republican measure that failed to take into consideration the many stakeholders involved in protecting Iowa’s waterways.

David Johnson (I) Ocheyedan


That was Ocheyedan Independent State Senator David Johnson.

You’re listening to The Exchange, on Siouxland Public Media. I’m Mary Hartnett

Siouxland area lawmakers took questions at a Saturday League of Women Voters’ forum at the Sioux City Public Museum. .Attendees asked about healthcare, education funding and other issues.  Many of them were concerned about the water quality bill passed last week. 

Sioux City State Representative Chris Hall said the bill was the worst possible option and it was chosen so lawmakers could show voters they had done something about water quality. 

Chris Hall (D) Sioux City

“200 and some million dollars over   years is nothing.   And worst of if you are going to put money toward it, at least have some accountability in there.  At least use some sort of watershed approach so if one person is putting something in the water upstream and the next guy downstream is doing something to clean it up.”

14th District Democratic Representative Tim Kacena from Sioux City said he agreed with everything Chris Hall said, and added that the state didn’t appropriate any new money to fund the water quality program.

“all we did is we stole from Peter to pay Paul.  Another program took a cut from this 238 million.  It was a political bill, it was a bad bill, because we did not get into the watershed project. And let’s be clear about this, it was a Farm Bureau Bill, and we let the fox watch the henhouse.”

Tim Kacena (D) Sioux City

However, District 3 Republican State Senator Jim Carlin of Sioux City Jim Carlin said there is another side to the issue.  

“The other side of it is our farmers are already facing severe challenges because of where our commodities prices are. SO, I think the problem we had is one didn’t do enough and one went too far.  Chip Baltimore, someone I know pretty well, his bill would have given cities a great deal of authority beyond the scope of city limits, to area farmers, that would have gone too far in my mind.  I don’t think we struck the right balance on this issue.  I will say that the bill that did get through was a first step.”

There were also many questions about possible cuts or deappropriations that have been proposed by Gov. Reynolds and Senate Republicans.  One person at the forum said he was disturbed by the plans for more cuts to judicial branch.  Sioux City Republican Senator Rick Bertrand said he was also concerned about the judiciary and the way budgetary items are dealt with.

Jim Carlin (R) Sioux City

“It’s one of those budgets that really don’t get debated, all of a sudden it’s just there and I guess there was an agreement to it, so it just kind of rolls.  So, my advice is we step up the presence, maybe from the grass roots, start pulling these guys out, start talking about real cases real timelines. That’s effective, you know, because I can tell you what you want to hear, it’s just kind of one of those budgets that just kind of rolls through.”

Representative Chris Hall said that the specific cuts to the judiciary could make it very difficult for rural counties to dispense j justice.

Rick Bertand (R) Sioux City

“The court administrators are saying they potentially could close about 30 courthouses and we are also talking about over 100 positions that have been left unfilled and vacant, because of previous cuts to the judicial branch.”

Hall said that cutting vital services like the judiciary makes it hard for Iowans to have a good quality of life.

“You know if you are living in a rural community or a county seat, your courthouse, your hospital your public school, are the places that you get jobs, you get economic vibrancy, the government has been cutting all those things, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we talk about the hardships and moving out of rural communities, that’s the reality when government continues to cut these things to the core.”

Representative Tim Kacena said these kinds of cuts are happening all the time and the judicial branch often bears the brunt of them.

“We have executive, legislative, judicial, judicial is always the red headed stepchild.  They get hit again and again and again.  If you’ll also look at this, they are cutting another three-point-four million from corrections.  And I went to three different prisons this summer, I had to take some time off, and we have one guard watching two sides of the prison right now.  He’s watching the other on a monitor. But when he goes to take care of a problem on that other side, people over here watch him and doing what he needs to do. We are not taking care of justice in this state.” 

Another person at the legislative forum raised the issue of school vouchers for parents who send their children to private school. Senator Carlin supports them, as made an effort to explain he reasons.

“The point is, you want to have lower income people be able to enroll their kids in parochial school if they can afford it.  My point is simply this, if you have the means to pay, you should have some say, because if you are telling me I have to pay for this, I should have some say.”

Senator Bertrand also supports the use of vouchers.  He sends his children to Catholic school and went there himself and he got into a discussion about federal dollars to go to students with one of the attendees. 

“Got into some trouble, broke some guy’s teeth out, and I got forced into a catholic school. And it really changed my life. And everybody knows I’m not a big hard bible guy, but I want Christ in my kids’ education. Do you believe in the Pell Grant, the GI bill, those dollars follow the student”?

Bertrand also said if a bill gets introduced this year, it’s g to to come from the ground level, from kids getting into the system.

“Which would be a revenue neutral system, which means that you’re not just going to be able to peel 200 million out of that system.  It’s not going to happen, the dollars aren’t there, the will is not there, you’re never going to get republicans even to do that, it’s just not going to happen. What you might see next year is special needs kids, exceptions for bullied kids and kindergarteners.”

Representative Chris Hall said he agrees with some forms of vouchers to help low income families but added that he wants to see existing programs fully funded first.

“I think that’s a reasonable thing to expect in budget making, a reasonable thing for Republicans and Democrats alike.  And the truth of public school funding is that it’s at an historic low, if you look at it in true dollars and the cost of expenses and the cost of doing business, for a school district, they are historically in a five trough, since the public-school funding system came in to being.  This is something that’s been around for 40 plus years and it’s in the trough of funding. We can’t be talking about creating a new program using public school dollars, at the same time we’re not giving any attention to the public-school system that exists, which all of the public has bought into for decades as a basic public value.”

Representative Kacena said he graduated from Bishop Helena Catholic High School, but he paid his own way through.

“But I’ve also worked since I was 14 years old, until I went into the army.  But I also helped my mother pay for that, because we didn’t have a lot of money, half of my paycheck went to my mother every week to help pay for my education. So, we didn’t need help to do that, we just worked hard and got it done, and if I can do it, you can do it.”

But as the forum wound down, the talk got back to water quality and legislation to achieve it.  State Senator Carlin said he

You’re listening to the Exchange on Siouxland Public Media.  I’m Mary Hartnett

A week ago, President Donald Trump announced a stiff 30 percent tariff on Chinese-made solar panels.  Many in solar power industry have decried the tariff, saying it will raise prices for consumer’s a and slow the spread of better goods, services, and especially technology.

Dolf Ivenor is the owner of Hog Power Energy.  Ivenor has been installing solar systems on businesses, residences, and farm irrigation pivots and has been recognized locally and nationally for his contributions to the solar industry. 

Dolf Ivenor, Hog Power Energy Edit | Remove

Hog Power Energy

Solar Panels Dolf

That was Dolf Ivenor, the owner of Hog Power Energy.  He installs solar power systems on farms, homes and businesses.  On Monday, one of China's biggest manufacturers announced that it plans to open a new plant in the U.S.

JinkoSolar said that its board of directors had given the go-ahead to "finalize planning for the construction of an advanced solar manufacturing facility in the U.S." The statement suggested Jinko's decision was tied to the new tariffs, saying that the company "continues to closely monitor treatment of imports of solar cells and modules under the U.S. trade laws."

You’re listening to the exchange on Siouxland Public Media.

Submissions are being accepted now for the 8th annual Innovation Market Competition. The event is organized by the Sioux City Growth Organization or Sioux City GO.  It’s a chance for all kinds of entrepreneurs to

present their ideas.  Chris Jackson is the President of Sioux City GO and Adrian Kolbo is the advisor of the Sioux City GO Innovation Week Committee. Kolbo says the Innovation market is a local think tank and idea competition that sources ideas from any individual that wants to present.

Adrian Kolbo

Innovation Market/Adrian

Chris Jackson is the President of Sioux City GO and Adrian Kolbo is the advisor of the Sioux City GO Innovation Week Committee. Kolbo is also the host of Siouxland Public Media’s Food for Thought program.  The committee is accepting submissions through this Sunday.  For more information go to

Chris Jackson Sioux City Growth Organization

                     International Holocaust Remembrance Day was observed this past week. To mark the occasion, two of our young journalists at Girls Inc. of Sioux City interviewed Inge Auerbacher, a survivor of the holocaust and author of four books, including I Am a Star. Our journalists, Emily Salcido and Hailey Orozco , began the interview with a question about this book.

Inge Auerbacher

Inge Auerbacher, Chemist, Author, Holocaust Survivor

Emily Salcido and Hailey Orozco are participating in the Siouxland Media Lab at Girls Inc. of Siouxland. The Media Lab is this station’s project to teach digital storytelling skills to young and underserved people in our community. It is supported by a grant from The Gilchrist Foundation.

                        The music you are hearing was composed by Gideon Klein, a brilliant young composer who was imprisoned at Terezin. He died in a labor camp in 1945.