President Barack Obama’s recent executive orders on gun access and control reignited debates over how to rein in gun violence. There’s a perception that gun violence in Iowa is worse than ever. The number of shootings in Iowa’s major cities is increasing, but law enforcement says it’s due to a small number of people.
A major environmental threat has emerged as factory farms take over more and more of the nation’s livestock production: Pollution from the waste produced by the immense crush of animals. Iowa has more of the massive livestock feeding lots, known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, than any other state and has come under fire for lax regulations.
Livestock industry groups applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s retreat last year from establishing an information-gathering rule. Michael Formica, of the National Pork Producers’ Council, said the rule simply would have burdened farmers with pointless paperwork. “You want your farmers focused on farming and running the farm, you don’t want them worried about filling out one inane form after another,” he said. Industry leaders also expressed satisfaction that it would be more difficult for the EPA to get information without a law compelling disclosure. Ashley McDonald, deputy environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said his organization was pleased the effort would be more “labor intensive” because the data is “in a decentralized form that is much more difficult to ascertain.”
Iowa’s wind energy producers and manufacturers are scrambling to finance new projects in the next two months because they don’t know if the Federal Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit they rely on heavily will be available after then.
President Obama’s new Race to the Top achievement standards for education aim to even the playing field for students, but are causing challenges for teachers who must cover more material then they are used to. If Iowa plans on participating in the next round of Race to the Top they must move quickly to meet the state and national standards.
Today, Michele Bachmann, leader of the congressional Tea Party caucus in the U.S. House, is turning frugality in government into a campaign theme as she gauges the support she might draw in Iowa and across the country for a possible run for the Republican presidential nomination.