Noon Newscast 11.22.19

Nov 22, 2019

Credit www.denison.k12.ia.us

A school district in Western Iowa has determined a high school teacher who used a racial slur last week had “no malicious intent.”

The Denison Community School District had been investigating teacher Crystal Holt, the wife of a state lawmaker.

The district says it will put together a cultural advisory committee to make sure the learning environment is “free from cultural bias.” Students, teachers, and administrators will be on the committee.

The district says Holt used the term as she and students were analyzing what a perpetrator said in a death penalty case the class was studying. That sparked a walkout by students on Tuesday. At a school board meeting later that day, many people showed up to support Holt.

David Wiggins has become acting chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court in the wake of Mark Cady’s death last week.

Three years ago, Chief Justice Cady appointed Wiggins to act in his place if he couldn’t be there. Now, Wiggins is serving as acting chief justice until the vacancy on the state’s highest court is filled. Then the court will elect a new chief. 

Lawmakers this year shortened the term of the chief justice, so the court will hold another vote for chief justice in 2021. 

When the state judicial nominating commission starts accepting applications for the supreme court vacancy, it’ll have 60 days to interview candidates and send three names to the governor. Then, Governor Kim Reynolds will have a month to select a new justice. 

Iowa’s auditor says the state budget is in good shape with surpluses but that beneficial federal tax policies will end in a few years, potentially causing problems.

In his annual review of the state budget, Auditor Rob Sand said Thursday that federal tax changes made in 2017 gave Iowa’s budget a $188 million windfall for the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30.

He says the federal windfall accounts for about two-thirds of the estimated surplus for the current fiscal year.

He’s reminding lawmakers that by the 2025-2026 budget year the portion of the federal tax break that benefits Iowa will end.

Iowa will need to have built a significant surplus to avoid problems.

Iowa’s farmer-dominated conservation districts are calling for a state ban on planting crops within 30 feet of streams to improve water quality.

However, the state’s top agricultural official opposes the idea.

The Conservation Districts of Iowa isn’t the first group to push for a buffer law, but it’s the first time a group made up mainly of farmers and retired farmers has advocated for something more stringent than voluntary action.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said he opposes a buffer strip requirement.

Naig said installing buffer strips is a good conservation practice with a long history in Iowa, but he doesn’t want to mandate it.

He also questioned whether the conservation district reflects the views of most Iowa farmers.