Axios Des Moines

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๐Ÿ–ค Happy Tuesday and National Reconciliation Day. A reminder that forgiveness can improve your well-being.

๐ŸŒ‚ Weather: Rain likely with a high of 50ยฐ.

๐Ÿ™Œ Stand with us by becoming a member and supporting our ongoing work.

โ›น๏ธโ€โ™€๏ธ Situational awareness: The Hawkeyes last night avenged their 2023 championship loss to LSU, winning 94-87.

  • Iowa's women's team is now headed back to the Final Four.

Today's Smart Brevityโ„ข count is 804 words โ€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: A blunt sign

Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Des Moines residents may have noticed a very distinctive billboard along I-235 East near downtown.

Driving the news: Good Day Farms, a marijuana dispensary in northern Missouri, purchased the advertisement, noting it takes 90 miles to drive to their shop from Des Moines.

What they're saying: Since the dispensary opened in November, Iowa customers have regularly driven down to purchase cannabis products, Abbey Morin, a floor sales lead, tells Axios.

  • They wanted to reach more Iowa customers, especially since they're able to offer flower, which is still illegal in Iowa's medical marijuana program.

Zoom out: As cannabis sales become mainstream, neighboring states are reaping big tax revenues and allocating them towards administrative costs, as well as supporting drug treatment and veteran's funds.

  • Colorado's state coffers gained $274.1 million in commercial marijuana taxes and licensing fees in 2023.
  • Illinois received over $400 million in tax revenue for recreational marijuana.
  • After legalizing recreational marijuana last August, Minnesota gained $600K in tax revenue in its first month.

What's next: The Iowa Senate is expected to debate a bill today that will give the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services the power to limit the THC potency in consumable hemp products like Climbing Kites.

Between the lines: The Missouri dispensary is next to a giant fireworks stand โ€” a former favorite shopping destination for Iowans before they were legalized in the state in 2017.

  • "Now it's marijuana and not fireworks," Morin says.

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2. First look: LT Leon's new office building

City-owned property at the corner of Ohio Street and Jefferson Avenue could be sold for LT Leon Associate's new building project. Rendering: Courtesy of Substance Architecture via the city of DSM

Engineering company LT Leon Associates wants to construct a $6 million office building just north of downtown under a proposal that goes before Des Moines' Urban Design Review Board this morning.

Why it matters: It's among the first new developments along the future Central Place Trail, which will connect the Inter-Urban and Neal Smith trail systems.

Catch up fast: Owner Luis Leon started the business from his basement in 2009, specializing in environmental work, including landscape architecture and conservation projects.

  • The company is now located in an office near the site of its proposed new building.

State of play: City Council last year agreed to sell a vacant city-owned lot to the company for its expansion.

  • Today's review is required prior to the closing of the sale. City staff is recommending the board give its recommendation for approval.

Zoom in: The proposed 8,200-square-foot building includes a rooftop deck that overlooks the DSM River and downtown.

  • It'll use geothermal heating/cooling and solar power generation is being evaluated, according to a project summary.

The intrigue: Some of the company's local work includes a planned recreational river access project in Water Works Park and Holiday Park baseball field improvements in West Des Moines.

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3. The Ear: Your news roundup

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿšถโ€โ™€๏ธ Historic Valley Junction joked it was going to transform its main street into a plaza to improve walkability and outdoor dining, though some residents liked the idea. (Des Moines Register)

๐Ÿ“ Red Rooster Records in Highland Park announced it's closing its storefront after nearly 20 years. (Facebook)

๐ŸŽถ Early bird 80/35 tickets are up for sale now and the lineup will be announced April 12. (80/35)

๐Ÿ’ป A Johnston teen is repairing old computers to gift to refugees in Iowa. (KCCI)

๐Ÿฆฎ Stricter documentation could be required by landlords for people who have support animals under a bill that now heads to the governor. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

4. Final Four tickets spike

Caitlin Clark celebrates after scoring a three-pointer against the Colorado Buffaloes on March 30 in Albany, New York. Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The cheapest tickets to the women's NCAA Final Four are 47% more expensive than the men's Final Four, writes Axios' Maxwell Millington.

By the numbers: The lowest ticket for the women's Final Four is listed at $343, according to Vivid Seats, but you can grab a ticket to the men's semifinal for as low as $233.

  • The cheapest women's championship game ticket is 61% more expensive ($296) than the men's ($184).

Reality check: The seat availability for the events are drastically different.

What we're watching: Average resale ticket prices for the men's and women's Final Four are trending in opposite directions, according to data from SeatGeek.

  • The average ticket resale prices for the women's Final Four leaped from $214 (2022) to $416 (2023), while the men's dropped from $806 (2022) to $423 (2023).
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5. 1 pic to go: A new councilperson

The remaining term of the City Council seat now held by Mike Simonson expires in January 2026. Photo: Courtesy of the city of Des Moines

Mike Simonson officially took his seat on the Des Moines City Council after a swearing in ceremony last night.

Catch up fast: Simonson is an architect and former DSM Plan and Zoning commissioner.

  • He won roughly 60% of the vote in last month's special election to fill the at-large seat vacated when Connie Boesen became mayor in January.

What we're watching: Affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and public safety are among Simonson's campaign goals.

๐Ÿง‘โ€โš–๏ธ Night court: The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a firearm conviction case from Des Moines County at Bondurant-Farrar High School's auditorium at 7pm tonight.

  • The event is part of an outreach for more Iowans to experience firsthand some of the court's operations.

This newsletter was copy edited by Lucia Maher.