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Monday, January 28, 2013

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News,Science and Technology

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Japan's decision to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports will provide a boost to the American meat industry, but tight supplies may limit how much exports can grow this year.

Beef producers hope to restore Japanese sales to where they were before the first case of mad cow disease was found in the United States in 2003.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association President J.D. Alexander said Monday the Japanese rules should improve profits for the industry.

If Japan's decision to allow imports of beef from cattle up to 30-months-old leads to higher demand overall, American consumers may pay more for beef.

But the North American Meat Association says the effect on prices is likely to be limited because many popular cuts of meat in Japan, like tongue, aren't popular in America.

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democratic lawmakers say a survey they sent to superintendents shows many expect teacher layoffs and class size increases if the Legislature doesn't increase state aid by a March 1 deadline.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach and Rep. Sharon Steckman held a news conference Monday to announce results of a survey sent to 348 school districts. They are Democratic leaders in education committees.

They say 206 superintendents responded. Of them, 57 percent say they expected teacher layoffs, 72 percent expected class size increases and 68 percent thought they would postpone ordering school materials if lawmakers didn't increase state aid to schools by March.

Lawmakers have missed a March 1 deadline for setting allowable revenue growth in the past.

Quirmbach says state aid should be decided before taking up Gov. Terry Branstad's education reforms.

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Researchers in Iowa are using sensors to map the state's watersheds, an effort aimed at reducing the kind of flooding that caused billions of dollars in damage in 2008.

Hydrologists with the Iowa Flood Center are working with the Turkey River Watershed Management Authority in northeast Iowa to create geomathematical models of the Turkey River. The goal is to identify where flood mitigation projects would most likely reduce downstream damage, the Gazette (http://bit.ly/VFezpUhttp://bit.ly/VFezpU ) reported.

The project includes mapping the entire 1.1 million-acre watershed, describing land surface and using precipitation and river gauge data.

"This really is the first time that hydro modeling has been done in advance of project implementation to get the highest value for the investment," said Larry Weber, director of Hydroscience & Engineering. The group is a parent organization of the Iowa Flood Center, and both work through the University of Iowa.

The engineering models have been available for years. But hydrologists said new computer technology has made processing the data more efficient.

State Sen. Rob Hogg said the work can reduce the state's vulnerability by reducing peak flows. The Democrat from Cedar Rapids helped establish both the Iowa Flood Center and the watershed management authorities after the June 2008 floods, which caused as much as $10 billion in damage.

"This is the vision for the whole state of Iowa — targeting mitigation projects based on scientific expertise to reduce flood risk," he said.

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ordered the city of Des Moines to stop communicating with individuals and businesses about a lawsuit in which the city was found to have collected illegal utility fees.

The city must return about $40 million to gas and electric customers of MidAmerican Energy Co. after a Des Moines woman successfully sued claiming a portion of the franchise fees the city collected between 2004 and 2009 were illegal.

Attorneys are working out how the city will refund the money to about 100,000 customers.

At a recent hearing Judge Joel Novak learned some business, organizations, and individuals were asked by a city council member to sign form letters indicating they would voluntarily forego their share of the money.

On Thursday Novak ordered the city to stop soliciting.

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State officials are resending tax forms to 15,000 Iowa Medicaid providers due to an error.

The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/14p1rt3http://dmreg.co/14p1rt3 ) reports officials with the Iowa Department of Administrative Services mailed 1099 tax forms last week with the wrong tax identification numbers. A letter mailed Friday says officials will send corrected versions to 15,000 Medicaid providers affected by the error.

An agency spokesman says the error happened during data sorting in the print-to-mail process. The newspaper reports officials weren't available Monday to discuss the cost of fixing the error.

Two separate forms will be mailed to providers. The first form zeros out monetary values and the second form is the corrected version.

A 1099 is a tax form for an independent contractor that shows how much they made from a business.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.comhttp://www.desmoinesregister.com

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