Weekly News Roundup: Iowa GOP Proposes Further Cuts to Higher Ed, Grassley Says He’ll Release Russia Probe Transcripts

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The Informer’s weekly news roundup, presented in partnership with KHOI community radio.

Iowa GOP Proposes More Cuts to Higher Ed, Regents Respond

Republicans in the Iowa Senate last week proposed $52 million in additional budget cuts for this fiscal year, taking aim at public universities, community colleges, human services, and the state’s justice system. In a statement, the Iowa Board of Regents criticized the $19.2 million in proposed cuts to higher ed, saying they would “cause disruptions on our campuses” and undermine the state’s goals for education and the economy. The cuts, which would take away already appropriated money, would be nearly four times Gov. Kim Reynolds’ recommendation of $5.1 million.

State Health Department Opens Application Process for Medical Cannabidiol Dispenary Operation

The Iowa Health Department recently released a set of rules for applicants interested in operating a cannabidiol dispensary under the state’s new medical marijuana program passed last year.

The 2017 Medical Cannabidiol Act allows people to possess the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant to treat a limited set of debilitating conditions including cancer and multiple sclerosis. The law expanded on an even more limited law passed in 2014 and authorizes the state’s health department to approve up to five dispensaries.

Grassley Says Judiciary Committee Will Soon Release More Interview Transcripts Related to Trump-Russia Probe

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley has said his committee will soon release the transcript of an interview it conducted with Donald Trump Jr. regarding a controversial meeting he held at his father’s Trump Tower in Manhattan with a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin. Grassley made the announcement shortly after two Democrats on the committee publicly called for interview transcripts relating to its investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election be released to special counsel Robert Mueller for his grand jury investigation of the same issue. In his remarks, Grassley blamed Democrat and fellow committee member Dianne Feinstein for previously releasing an interview transcript of Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS, whose firm is responsible for the intelligence dossier alleging that Russia has compromising information about the president. Grassley said the release of that transcript ruined the committee’s “chances of getting a voluntary interview” with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is also tied to the investigation.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.