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Romney backs Iowa Republican Ernst for US Senate

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is endorsing for re-election a handful of federal lawmakers, as well as a state senator from Iowa seeking that state's GOP Senate nomination.

The former Massachusetts governor announced in a press release Tuesday he was backing state Sen. Joni Ernst, one of six Republicans running for the GOP nomination in the race to succeed Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, who is not seeking a sixth consecutive term. Four-term House member Bruce Braley is the only Democrat seeking the seat.

"Joni is also a proven conservative with a great record as a state senator in Iowa," Romney said of Ernst in the emailed letter. Ernst, a second-term lawmaker from rural southwest Iowa, supported Romney in the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

Romney finished closely behind former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in Iowa en route to the 2012 presidential nomination.

Romney campaigned aggressively for Iowa in the 2012 election but lost the state to President Barack Obama by 5.6 percentage points.

The Ernst endorsement is a departure from Romney's handful of others, which include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, also of Idaho. The three are facing challenges from tea party-backed candidates.

Romney is also publicly endorsing U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who was the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee on the ticket with Romney.


Officials track wandering moose in eastern Iowa

STANWOOD, Iowa (AP) — Officials in eastern Iowa say a moose trekking through the area could be the same creature spotted a few months ago.

Eric Wright, a conservation officer with the state Department of Natural Resources, says the creature seen recently in Cedar County could be the same one seen around Linn County in December.

Wright says the moose has shed its antlers, so it's difficult to do a comparison. But a moose in Iowa is a rare occurrence, and this creature is not too far from the spotting in Linn County.

Cedar County Chief Deputy Kevin Knoche tells the Quad-City Times ( ) that officials began receiving reports Tuesday of the moose near Stanwood.

Wright says the moose appears to be healthy, but there's concern about its survival if it continues south.


Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com


DNR: Wastewater from sewer line reaches Iowa creek

STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) — A broken sewer line has caused wastewater to reach a small frozen creek in northwest Iowa.

The state Department of Natural Resources says the ice-filled Outlet Creek below Storm Lake has been affected by a leak discovered Tuesday morning. The line, managed by the Southwest Sanitary District, leads to a wastewater treatment plant. The leak was stopped a short time later.

A contractor for the city of Storm Lake reported the leak after seeing wastewater flowing under the snow. Officials estimate about 2,000 gallons reached the creek and froze on top of it.

The wastewater is now frozen solid behind silt fences. The district is working to repair the line, and state officials say they're monitoring the situation.


Boil advisory issued for Iowa city of Dayton

DAYTON, Iowa (AP) — Regulators have issued a boil advisory for the small Iowa city of Dayton in Webster County.

The state Department of Natural Resources says the advisory was issued because of a water main break Tuesday night. It caused water from a tower to drain.

Officials say the loss of water pressure can allow bacteria to get into the system. The water is currently being tested and the main is being repaired.

Residents are encouraged to boil water or use bottled water while the advisory is in effect.


Patients, experts tout medical marijuana benefits

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Patients and medical experts told lawmakers about the positive uses of medical marijuana, arguing the medical community and public could benefit from the drug.

Relatives of patients with epilepsy and cancer who testified Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee told lawmakers they've exhausted all their options for pain-relieving and seizure-related drugs. They say medical marijuana can ease the side effects of drugs already taken or in ways other drugs cannot.

Even lawmakers who support medical marijuana legislation has acknowledged it won't pass this session, but Sen. Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says he hopes to educate lawmakers on its positive uses and hopefully legalize it next year.

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