Siouxland Public Media

A district court judge has rejected a request by former Gov. Terry Branstad’s lawyers to set aside a jury verdict that concluded Branstad discriminated against a former state official because he’s gay.

The ruling  rejects dozens of arguments, including challenges to legal rulings during trial and jury instructions.

Branstad’s attorneys asked the judge to set aside the July 15 jury verdict of $1.5 million awarded to former Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey.

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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar,  and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet will make appearances in northwest Iowa today and tomorrow. 

Unlike many of the Democratic candidates, Bennet does not oppose a wall on the border with Mexico if it is part of the larger, modern immigration system.  He wrote an immigration bill in 2013 with a similar suggestion. 

Iowa DOT

The Missouri River continues to rise and flood mostly rural land in Nebraska and Iowa, but Interstate 29 remains open near Omaha.

The Iowa DOT expects to close parts of the interstate at some point during this week's flooding. The river is expected to crest Friday morning near Omaha.

The highway remained open Thursday morning although several onramps were closed in southwest Iowa.

The lower Missouri River is flooding in Nebraska and Iowa this week because exceptionally heavy rains fell last week in Montana, North and South Dakota and Nebraska.

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The Trump Administration has announced another round of payments for farmers, to compensate for lower commodity prices amid trade tensions with China. IOWA Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said it’s needed, because corn and soybean prices are below the cost of producing a crop.

The first set of payments are scheduled to be made in late July or early August, but the final calculations aren’t set. The payments to individual farmers will be based on the impact trade has had on corn and soybean prices in their county. 

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Republican Senator Joni Ernst says President Trump has taken the right approach in trade talks with China. Ernst and Trump spoke by phone shortly after Trump threatened to impose more tariffs on Chinese imports.

Speaking to Radio Iowa, Ernst said after many months of negotiations, it’s time for a deal that will address China’s theft of intellectual property and other bad trade practices.

On another trade-related issue, Ernst is predicting the “U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement” will easily win passage in the U.S. Senate.

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The retaliatory Chinese tariffs on soybeans and corn are still causing a lot of financial trouble to farmers, some of whom are being forced to default on their loans, but low commodity prices are also causing problems for farmers.  Also, after nearly a year of threats of closure, the University of Iowa Labor Center has a bright future ahead. And, on this Ash Wednesday, we talk with Morningside Professor Emeritus Bruce Forbes about the traditions of Lent.

That and more coming up on The Exchange.