The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

July 20, 2013

Board reconsiders farm building inspections

DES MOINES (AP) — State regulators are trying to decide whether Iowa farm buildings should have mandatory electrical inspections, though some in the industry are calling it a power grab.

The Iowa Electrical Examining Board is expected to decide Aug. 15 whether Iowa farm buildings must be inspected, The Des Moines Register reported ( ). The 11-member board weighed conflicting opinions on the matter at a hearing Thursday.

Under the leadership of former Gov. Chet Culver, the Iowa Legislature passed an electrical regulatory bill in 2007 that required farmers to obtain inspections on most electrical installations on their farms. Gov. Terry Branstad later objected to the rules in January 2012.

The state Department of Public Safety in July 2012 ordered inspections on farm buildings — including grain bins, pole barns and livestock barns — to be suspended indefinitely.

Three Carroll County Farm Bureau members also challenged the law in 2012 and the issue went through an Iowa District Court, where Judge William Ostlund ruled in January 2013 that the board overstepped its authority on how it interpreted the law.

Calling the legislation “extremely ambiguous” on agricultural installations, Ostlund remanded it back to the board for further consideration. He also suggested that the Legislature clarify the law, though former Iowa House Speaker Patrick Murphy said farms were clearly not exempt from the rules that apply to residences and retail buildings.

Some say the inspections are a power grab by the board that overburdens farmers.

“If I own my own property, I am accountable for that property. No one else is. . Why don’t you leave me alone?” said Allen Suby of Ankeny, a former resident of Fertile who still has farm investments.

Other farmers and their supporters say poorly installed electrical wiring creates safety hazards.

“This is a public safety issue. I grew up on a farm. My brother farms,” said Jerry Depenning, president of Penn Electric of Marion.

State records say that since 1994, Iowa has had 15 farm deaths from electrocution.

State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds, a member of the electrical board, said the Legislature should address the issue.

“I feel like the Legislature has put this board in a very bad position,” he said.

Text Only
AP Iowa
  • Southeast Iowa's Lake Darling State Park reopens BRIGHTON, Iowa (AP) — Lake Darling State Park has reopened after around six years of restoration work in southeast Iowa's Washington County. The $16 million project began in 2008 and included draining the 300-acre lake and replacing a dam. The park n

    July 25, 2014

  • University of Iowa bans restroom videos suspect IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — University of Iowa police have identified a university employee as the person suspected of placing a video camera on the floor of a restroom and recording scenes there. The camera was found June 4 in the University Capitol Cent

    July 25, 2014

  • Iowa panel sued for rejecting Cedar Rapids casino CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Former Linn County Attorney Eugene Kopecky has sued the Iowa Racing Gaming Commission over its rejection of the proposed Cedar Rapids casino. Kopecky says he wants a court to force the commission to reconsider its decision a

    July 25, 2014

  • Manure odor biofilters topic of Iowa conference AMES, Iowa (AP) — The latest technology designed to reduce the odor from hog manure will be the focus of a conference next month at Iowa State University. The Biofilter Conference on Aug. 20 is aimed at producers and managers of animal feeding operat

    July 25, 2014

  • Northwest Iowa man dies in hay bale accident WESTFIELD, Iowa (AP) — A northwest Iowa man has died after being hit with a hay bale. The Le Mars Daily Sentinel reports ( ) 76-year-old Barry E. Knapp, of Westfield, died Tuesday while stacking hay bales. The Plymouth County She

    July 24, 2014

  • Hearing set for Iowan held as deaths case witness AKRON, Iowa (AP) — A detention hearing has been scheduled Aug. 4 for a 44-year-old man held as a material witness in the deaths of an elderly couple. The man has been held since he was taken into custody in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on July 10, the day a

    July 24, 2014

  • Five charged after eastern Iowa police chase SOLON, Iowa (AP) — A two-county police chase in eastern Iowa has ended in the backyard of a house in Solon. Deputies say two teenagers and three men from Cedar Rapids were taken into custody Wednesday night. They face a variety of charges. The five w

    July 24, 2014

  • 2012 fatal boat pilot offers insurance money DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A man facing lawsuits involving a jon boat crash that killed four people and injured six others on the Mississippi River in 2012 has agreed to hand over $300,000 from an insurance policy, but he wants a judge to absolve him of

    July 24, 2014

  • Spontaneous combustion causes Cedar Rapids fire CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Cedar Rapids fire officials say a fire at a local bar was caused by spontaneous combustion of rags and towels containing animal fat. An early morning fire Wednesday at the Chrome Horse Saloon and Slop House damaged the first

    July 24, 2014

  • Fired Iowa editor claims religious discrimination NEWTON (AP) — The former editor of the Newton Daily News has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming he was fired for expressing his religious beliefs.In the complaint filed Wednesday, Bob Eschliman claimed re

    July 24, 2014

AP National