Governor Vilsack lauds a bill which would release some confidentialinformation about child abuse investigations. The bill comes in response to January’s tragic death of a Spirit Lake youngster. The bill, which clearedthe House Human Resources Committee Thursday, would let the Department ofHuman Services director tell the Governor some details of child abuseinvestigations — and a handful of legislators would have access to theinformation, too.Vilsack says it’s hard to determine how much information should be releasedto the public, especially when allegations of child abuse are later judgedto be unfounded.On another topic, Governor Vilsack is urging legislators to release specifics of theirenvironmental initiatives. Vilsack staged his weekly news conference in awater treatment plant — the Des Moines Water Works, to highlight his “clean water” proposals. The top priority: hiring state workers to workone-on-one with farmers, urging them to plant grasses in “buffer strips”along waterways. There’s federal money available for the farming practice.Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows, a farmer, says the federal”buffer strip” program’s been in place for years — and there’s no need tocreate another level of bureaucrats to convince farmers to participate. Governor Vilsack rejects that arguement. He says farmers don’t fully understand the program and need more attention to deal with their problems.Vilsack says there’s a need to for the state to act to reduce the amount offarm chemicals, especially nitrates, which end up in water supplies. Vilsack says he doesn’t want the federal government coming in and telling farmers how to farm. He says he wants to enpower farmers to work on conservation and water quality. Last week, Republican legislators said they intend to spend 35-million dollars on environmental programs. Vilsack says he hopes the Republican plan isn’t a repackaging of existing programs.
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