Iowa Senate rejects medical confirmation over LGBT comments

DES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has declined to confirm a woman to the state Board of Medicine because of an online comment she made about the LGBTQ community.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds' appointment of Katherine Asjes failed Wednesday. All 18 votes against the appointment were cast by Democrats.

Asjes' comment supporting a Catholic World Report article that criticized the LGBTQ community is concerning, said Democratic Sen. Tony Bisignano of Des Moines. Article author Jim Russell said the LGBTQ community is constantly changing the rights they're seeking and criticizing those who oppose them.

Asjes posted a comment where she said she agrees with Russell's statements, but wants more information about the "original definition of heterosexual."

The comment raised concerns about whether Asjes would protect the health of all Iowa residents, said Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen.

Authorities switch to surgical approach in search for teen

LA PORTE CITY — Authorities have switched to a surgical approach in their search for a missing 16-year-old boy in eastern Iowa.

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson said Wednesday that volunteers are no longer being sought because search operations for Jake Wilson now will be carried out by personnel with specific skills. He says the broad net formed of hundreds of searchers is being followed by "a very surgical approach."

Police say Jake, of La Porte City, was last seen at 9 p.m. Saturday going for a walk. A search began less than an hour later, when he didn't return home. His mother, Megan Neiswonger, has said Jake has autism with a mild intellectual disorder and functions at the level of a 9-year-old.

She told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that the situation is "running us down."

Man sues over arson conviction after 24 years behind bars

CHICAGO — A man who was sentenced to prison for a fatal fire is alleging in a lawsuit that Chicago police officers falsified evidence that kept him locked up for nearly a quarter century before he was released from prison last year after prosecutors decided to dismiss the charges.

In the federal lawsuit that also names a former fire marshal and former Cook County prosecutor, Adam Gray, who was 14 at the time of the 1993 fire that left two people dead, contends authorities also coerced his false confession as well as false statements from witnesses.

Last year, Gray was released from prison after prosecutors announced that fire science advances raised too many questions about his conviction and dismissed the charges. His conviction was vacated and he was later exonerated.

Illinois asking for federal help after February flooding

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The state of Illinois is asking the federal government to help residents in three counties who are recovering from flooding during February.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office says Thursday that if his request to help people in Iroquois, Kankakee and Vermilion counties is approved then grants and low-interest small business loans would be made available.

The flooding impacted nearly 1,100 residences, with about 160 suffering major damage. One home was destroyed. Rauner says the February flooding left many residents of Watseka, about 80 miles south of downtown Chicago, dealing with the third significant flooding event in three years.

Teams from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration reviewed damage in the three counties last month.