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Linda Upmeyer

Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, delivers her opening remarks during the opening day of the Iowa Legislature, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Charlie Neibergall

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Thursday, March 27, 2014:

Medical marijuana

Iowa House and Senate leaders said Thursday the conversation about medical marijuana has changed, but they see legalization as unlikely this year. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said lobbying by mothers of children who might be treated for seizures with medical marijuana have changed lawmakers’ perspectives on the issue. House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, agreed that there is “elevated discussion” about medical marijuana. “There are more discussions around what is possible, what that would look like, but it’s hard to imagine all of those things can align this year.”

Grain company penalty

A Muscatine County judge today ordered Grain Processing Corporation of Muscatine to pay a record $1.5 million civil penalty and reduce air pollutant emissions in and around it plant where it processes grain into ethanol and various feed, industrial and food products.

Ethanol

Ethanol gasoline closed at $3.43 per gallon, down $.03 from last week’s price and down $.07 from one year ago, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Regular unleaded gasoline averaged $3.53 across Iowa according to AAA, down $.03 from last week and down $.06 from one year ago. The national average on March 25 was $3.54, up a penny from last week’s price.

Natural gas prices in Iowa were down $.07 from last week’s report, ending the week at $4.41 / MMbtu.

Tips for saving energy are available at www.energysavers.gov and at www.fueleconomy.gov.

E-book settlement

Iowa consumers are receiving account credits or checks in partial settlement of a 2012 electronic book price-fixing lawsuit brought by Attorney General Tom Miller and attorneys general from 32 other states. The lawsuit named Apple, Inc. and five of the six largest e-book publishers in the country. All but Apple settled the claims for $166 million, including $1,429,663 to Iowans.

For more information, visit www.ebookagsettlements.com.

Big ag coverup?

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is claiming that the House ag and natural resources budget bill would make corporate data collected about water quality projects secret and is a “brazen attempt to shield corporate ag from even the most basic forms of public oversight.” However, Rep. Jack Drake, R-Griswold, said the confidentiality did not cover project costs, including a landowner’s share. It would shield other financial and proprietary information of farmers and landowners, he said.

Vilsack speaks

Former Iowa governor and current USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will be the keynote speaker at The New Republic’s “The Frontier of Climate Change: State and Local Action in the Heartland” conference at Drake University April 22, focusing on the current state of climate policy in Iowa and across the country at the federal, state, and local levels. To RSVP visit http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-frontier-of-climate-change-state-and-local-action-in-the-heartland-registration-11011907913.

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