Habitat for Humanity Gets Help Expanding in Dallas County

PERRY, Iowa  --  A Perry bank is doing more to help prospective homeowners buy a house than just offering a loan.  They're giving away money and picking up paint brushes and hammers to make those dreams come true.

On Thursday Raccoon Valley Bank donated $15,000 to Habitat for Humanity in Dallas County.  The money will be used to build the first ever new "Habitat home" in Perry as well as funding renovations on other homes in Perry.  After making the donation today bank employees were on site at one of those homes being rehabbed for a prospective homeowner.  Habitat for Humanity officials say it's about so much more than just houses.

"A family without a home has to struggle with a lot of other issues like health care, education, not knowing if they're going to have stability to send their family to do the other things they need to do," Omar Padilla with Habitat for Humanity says, "So through housing we hope we can impact those other areas."

Habitat for Humanity plans to finish five homes for new owners in Perry in the next year.

ACLU Suing DHS for Denying Medicaid Coverage of Transgender Surgeries

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Iowa Department of Human Services is facing another lawsuit.

On Thursday the ACLU of Iowa announced it was suing the DHS in hopes of overturning a policy that blocks Medicaid coverage for transition surgeries for transgender Iowans.  The ACLU says as far as the law should be concerned there is no difference between those surgeries and any other surgery.  But that is not the case in Iowa.

"When, with their physician, it is clear that this type of care is medically necessary they shouldn't be barred from accessing it simply because of their gender identity," said ACLU legal director Rita Bettis,  "That is a clear violation of the law and the constitution."

The suit is being brought in part by Carol Ann Beal.  She has lived as a woman since the age of 14.  That's when she began undergoing horomone therapy.  However she says DHS policies are denying her surgeries her doctor has approved.  She says the lawsuit is not just about her.

"I want to make to it easier for young people who need this surgery to make it easier for them to have insurance available for those who have to go through this and not struggle the way I have through this whole process."

Another plaintiff, Quad Cities resident EerieAnna Good, released this statement explaining the importance of transition surgeries:

“This surgery is not just something that I want. It’s something that I very much need to resolve the depression and anxiety I face because my outside fails to match who I know I am: a woman. I’m only 27 and I have my whole life stretching in front of me. I want to have a career. I want to be married and raise kids. I’ve faced a lot of challenges in my life that have made it difficult for me to do these things, but my inability to get the medical care I need has been one of the major roadblocks. This is so important for my health, well-being, and my life.”



Community Volunteer and Attorney Karin Derry To Run for Iowa House District 39

Johnston, Iowa – Karin Derry, community volunteer, mother of three and attorney from Johnston, announced her candidacy to represent Iowa’s 39th House District, which includes Johnston, Grimes, and Urbandale. “I’m running for the Iowa House because politicians at the Iowa Statehouse are not moving Iowa in the right direction,” Derry said. “As an 18 year […]

Governor Reynolds’ claim to balance budget ‘without cuts to education’ is astoundingly false

“Yesterday Governor Kim Reynolds made the astoundingly false claim that she has managed the state budget ‘without cuts to education.’  That’s a real whopper!  The truth is that the mid-year budget cuts (Senate File 130) sliced a total of $31.5 million from education.  The $4.5 million cut from the Iowa Department of Education was just the beginning."

$15,000 Donation to Kick Off Perry Habitat for Humanity Project

PERRY, Iowa – A Habitat for Humanity project in Perry is getting a boost Thursday from a local bank.

The Raccoon Valley Bank is donating $15,000 to the Dallas County Habitat for Humanity. The money will go toward building a home for a low-income family. The home will be the organization’s first new construction home in Perry.

The bank is also promising some volunteer help from its employees during the construction project and during Rock the Block repair events.

The check is being presented Thursday morning.

Fundraising efforts to cover the rest of the construction costs continue.

The low-income family who will get the opportunity to buy the home will put in hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” during construction and receive an affordable mortgage.

Abby Finkenauer Nabs Important Laborers Endorsement

State Representative Abby Finkenauer added another key group to her list of supporters in Democrats’ 1st District primary this week. The Great Plains Laborers have endorsed Finkenauer, making them the seventh labor union to support her in her bid to take on Republican Congressman Rod Blum. “Having grown up in a union home, Abby knows […]

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Teacher’s ‘Gender Neutral’ Pronoun Note Causes Stir Among Parents

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida teacher’s note requesting that her fifth graders try to use gender-neutral pronouns in her classroom has parents divided, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Chloe Bressack, a new math and science teacher at Canopy Oaks Elementary, greeted parents in a letter introducing herself. “One thing that you should know about me is that I use gender neutral terms. My prefis ix Mx. (pronounced Mix),” she wrote. “My pronouns are ‘they, them, their’ instead of ‘he, his, she, hers.'”

She added that “students catch on pretty quickly,” even though it “takes some practice for it to feel natural.” Bressack assured parents she wasn’t looking for “perfection,” just that they make an effort. “My priority is for all of my students to be comfortable in my classroom and have a space where they can be themselves while learning,” the letter reads.

According to the paper, comments on the letter in a Facebook group called “Tally Moms Stay Connected” revealed a division between two camps of parents, either strongly in favor or strongly opposed to the idea.

Canopy Oaks Principal Paul Lambert told the Tennessee Democrat that the school supported Bressack’s “preference in how she’s addressed,” and said the only agenda she might have is “teaching math and science at the greatest level she can.”

Equifax, Tell Us About Burdensome Regulations

The biggest under-reported news event from the past two weeks involves a crime of gigantic proportions that directly affects about half of the people living in the United States. Of course, Melania Trump’s choice of footwear for a trip to hurricane-ravaged Texas a few days earlier attracted as much, or more, media coverage. But I […]

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It May Feel Like Summer, but Flu Season is Almost Here

DES MOINES, Iowa – Flu season is right around the corner and doctors are suggesting to get the vaccine by the end of September.

The peak time people get the flu is around January and February, but experts can see cases as early as October.

Polk County Health Educator Nola Aigner said the shot is targeting the four most common flu strains. Those include: Two A strains: H1N1 and H3N2, and two B lineages.

“Each year the CDC estimates that 200,000 people will be hospitalized. Of that population, 20,000 of them will be under the age of five. It is incredibly important that we are making sure that everyone gets their flu vaccine so they can stay healthy and enjoy flu season,” Aigner said.

People who cannot get the flu shot are those who are allergic to the components inside the vaccine or are under six months of age.

Aigner said to check with a clinic or pharmacy to see if it carries a flu vaccine that doesn’t have certain components you may be allergic to.

“Our little ones, love to touch things. So, if I’m sick and I touch a table and then another one touches the table and touches their eyes, nose and mouth, chances are they are going to get sick with the flu. It’s really important for them to get the flu shot, because they are developing their immune systems and theirs might not be as strong as an adult would be,” Aigner said.

Flu symptoms include: sore throat, headaches, fever, body aches, runny nose, and the chills.

Aigner said to call your family doctor, local pharmacy or the Polk County Health Department to make an appointment.

The Polk County Health Department is giving flu shots for $20 if someone does not have health insurance.

The CDC says it takes about two weeks after the vaccination for the antibiotics to develop and protect against the flu.

Iowa Missing Out On Sales Tax Revenues From Online Retail Purchases

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Businesses that have a Nexus, or physical presence in the state, are obligated to collect sales tax, but if a business does not have a physical Nexus in Iowa, under current federal law they are not obligated to collect on behalf of the state.

Amazon has agreed to collect sales tax on some purchases, but not all.

“They made an agreement with the state of Iowa, as they have with all of the states in the country that have sales tax, to collect on their behalf on any purchase that they fulfill," said Amy Rehder Harris, PhD, the Chief Economist and Division Administrator for the Iowa Department of Revenue. "So Amazon does sell a lot of items and they’re a large seller in the country, obviously. But they also sell what's called a market place. They have third party sellers that sell through Amazon, so they're just kind of a platform. They did not agree to collect on those, because they said we will collect sales tax on any item that we physically sell to Iowans."

Which means there are still purchases that people make on Amazon for which sales tax is not collected, and yet the tax is still due.

"Many taxpayers are not aware of their use tax obligation and so those revenue collections are quite small, and we’re trying to increase awareness of that through a communication campaign with taxpayers," said Harris. "So we encourage our citizens when you see, when you're fulfilling an order, was sales tax collected, and if it wasn't, you still owe that six percent to the state of Iowa on that purchase."

The Department of Revenue has several options on its website, where Iowans can go and pay their tax obligation.

Meanwhile, online retailers have a competitive edge against mom and pop brick-and-mortar shops like Fleet Feet Sports.

"Yeah, that's disappointing," said Andy Roat of Fleet Feet Sports in Des Moines. "I think sometimes people don't realize that we make an investment in training our team so they do a great job fitting people here, and that there is a cost involved with that, so it's disappointing when someone does that and then they go decide to make a purchase online."

Not only does gaming the system like that have a negative impact on how well local businesses can do, but it also affects how much good they're able to do for the community.

"We do things for pets, we do things for the homeless, pretty much any organization wants, needs some help, needs some support, and local businesses have a great heart," said Roat. "People in Des Moines have a great heart, but they need to realize in order to keep that good cycle of things going, they need to support local businesses."