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NEWS 7.22.21: Finkenauer Running for U.S. Senate, PRO Act Support, Opioid Settlement, & More

Abby Finkenauer/Facebook

Iowa Democrat Abby Finkenauer is running for Republican Chuck Grassley’s U.S. Senate seat. The one-term former congresswoman hopes her blue-collar credentials will propel her forward in a state that has grown more conservative over the years.

The 32-year-old offers a stark contrast to the 87-year-old Grassley, who was elected to his first Senate term eight years before Finkenauer was born.

Despite losing her House seat in 2020 after one term, Finkenauer remains a youthful prospect in the Iowa Democratic Party, which has struggled to produce a new generation for statewide office.

Also, in the Democratic race farmer Dave Muhlbauer from Manning. State Senator Jim Carlin of Sioux City also declared he is running for the Republican primary.

Finkenauer and Muhlbauer are expected to be in Sioux City tomorrow to show support for the “Pass the PRO Act” or “Protect the Right to Organize”. The PRO Act would override“right-to-work” laws.

A news release from the Woodbury County Democrats says supporters of the act will gather in front of the Federal Building at 4 p.m. Also, attending State Senator Jackie Smith, Representative Chris Hall, and former Congressional candidate J.D. Scholten. The group is urging Iowa Senators Grassley and Ernst to support the act strengthening unions.


A top Iowa pork producer is pushing federal lawmakers to allow immigrant workers to stay on the job yearround. A spokeswoman for Iowa Select Farms told U.S. senators during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday that seasonal employment currently allowed under a federal visa program is insufficient to meet the industry’s needs.

The spokeswoman testified that farmers and meatpacking plants are facing severe labor shortages and need immigrant workers to be able to work year-round. Wednesday's hearing focused on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would provide a pathway to legal status for more than 1 million undocumented farmworkers. The U.S. House passed the bill in March.

Iowa would receive up to 170 million dollars from a lawsuit settlement with four companies accused of contributing to the nation’s opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

The state’s share comes as part of a 26 billion dollar deal involving drug-maker Johnson and Johnson and three opioid distributors who admit no liability as part of the agreement.

State Attorney General Tom Miller says the money will be spent primarily on treatment and education.

"It’s not going to be enough money to solve the whole problem. We’re not going to have money to throw around. But we think there’s going to be enough money, if we spend it wisely, to make a real dent in this problem and to really help."

Miller says the money will be paid over a period of 17 years and the final amount will depend on how many Iowa counties sign on to the settlement. He says around two-thirds have, so far.

Last year, opioid-related deaths in Iowa increased more than 30 percent to 213. Attorney General Tom Miller says most of the money from this settlement will go toward treatment and prevention to reverse that trend. 

A judge overseeing the criminal trial of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is ordering medical providers to turn over their health records for the man killed when Ravnsborg struck him last year. This week, Judge John Brown issued letters to several hospitals and clinics, ordering them to provide records about Joe Boever’s psychiatric state. The order comes after Ravnsborg’s defense alleged in court documents that Boever’s death may have been a suicide. Ravnsborg is charged with three misdemeanor charges of careless driving, use of an electronic device while driving and illegal lane change. His trial is scheduled for next month.

One of two Iowa prison nurses fired for her role in accidentally giving dozens of inmates large overdoses of the coronavirus vaccine is appealing her termination, arguing she is “blameless” for the mix-up. The Iowa Department of Corrections fired Amanda Dodson, a registered nurse at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, in May after an investigation found 77 inmates received shots containing up to six times the recommended dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Dodson and her union have appealed her firing to the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board, arguing it was unjust. A union spokesman says the errors happened after the prison abruptly switched from the Moderna to the Pfizer vaccine and failed to train nurses on a key change in how they are delivered.

The University of Iowa plans to name a football field for former player and trailblazer Duke Slater. That’s according to sources at the university. Slater who was Black, who was an All-American tackle a century ago and just named to the NFL Hall of Fame.

The Iowa Board of Regents is set to consider and approve “a proposed facility naming” at a meeting next week. No details about the agenda item have been released.

Submitted news release:

Sanford Health to require employee COVID-19 vaccination

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Sanford Health is taking another important step to ensure the safest possible environment for patients, residents and staff during the pandemic by requiring all employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination by Nov. 1. This includes employees at all of its Good Samaritan Society locations.

“This is the right thing to do for our patients and residents, people and communities,” said Bill Gassen, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “As more contagious COVID-19 variants continue to spread and threaten our communities, we must do everything we can to protect each other and our loved ones.” 

“Since the emergence of COVID-19, Sanford Health has led the way through every stage of the pandemic, and we should be proud of how we’ve come together to safely care for our communities and each other,” said Jeremy Cauwels, M.D., chief physician at Sanford Health. “Nearly all new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated people, and the overwhelming data confirms that the vaccines are not only safe, but the best and most reliable way to prevent transmission of the virus.”

Across Sanford Health, health care providers have been leading by example by choosing to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others. More than 90% of clinicians and 70% of nurses are fully vaccinated.

Sanford Health employees are already required to have several other vaccines including the annual flu shot. Under the new policy, any COVID-19 vaccine received in the past 12 months will qualify for the 2021 requirement. Unvaccinated employees can get their COVID-19 vaccination at any time but must report it by Nov. 1. All unvaccinated employees are encouraged to get their shots as soon as possible. As with other vaccines, Sanford Health will allow certain exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

Wednesday, the American Hospital Association (AHA) announced its support of hospitals and health systems that implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for health care personnel.

According to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), United States nursing homes showed a 96% decline in COVID cases in less than three months of initial doses being administered to nursing home residents and staff starting on Dec. 20. COVID-related deaths in nursing homes declined 91% in the same timeframe.

News Release from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:


Gov. Reynolds appoints Gina Badding to the
Court of Appeals

DES MOINES– Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced her appointment of Gina Badding as a judge of the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Badding, of Carroll, Iowa, currently serves as a district judge in Judicial Election District 2B. She previously practiced law with Neu, Minnich, Comito, Halbur, Neu & Badding, P.C., in Carroll. Badding received her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa and her law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law.

The Iowa Court of Appeals is Iowa’s intermediate appellate court. It is composed of nine judges and decides appeals from district courts across Iowa.

Badding will fill the vacancy created by the upcoming retirement of Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Richard H. Doyle of Des Moines.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.
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