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Noon News 5.9.19

State of Iowa

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed into law judicial selection changes that will give her more power in the nominating process for judges appointed to the Iowa Supreme and appeals court.

The new law immediately removes the senior justice from the 17-member panel that selects names to send to the governor and allows the governor to choose the majority of nominating commision members.

In a statement, Reynolds said this gives “all Iowans a greater voice in the process.”

The day before signing the bill, she said she liked the more far-reaching proposal that Republican lawmakers started out with.

 “So we put a bill out there, working with the legislature. The legislators—some of them had some concerns, so I tried to listen to some of those concerns. The legislative leaders that were running that tried to listen to what the concerns were, and then you adapt it.”    

Democrats say the new law gives the governor too much power over the selection of appellate judges, and they say it’ll politicize the court system.

People who suffered losses when the Spencer Dam failed in northern Nebraska have gotten more bad news: A state law limits the liability of the dam's owner.

Nebraska Public Power District, which owns the dam, has said the collapse of the more than 90-year-old dam in March was caused by a combination of high Niobrara River flows and massive chunks of ice.

State law limits the power district's liability to $1 million per individual court-proven claim per occurrence and $5 million, total, for all such claims.  

Knox County, which was one of four counties affected, already estimates that it suffered more than $17 million in damages.

NPPD officials say the dam was designed for generating electricity, not for flood control.

A top state dam safety official also blames the ice and floodwater for the collapse and not the age of the dam.

One person was killed in the collapse. The home of Kenny Angel, which was below the dam, was swept away by the wall of water and ice. His body still has not been found.

Authorities are investigating a report of a mountain lion being sighted near downtown Des Moines.

Police are poring over the video to see whether the report can be confirmed. Snapshots taken from the video appear to show a mountain lion near some steps and a park bench.

Mountain lions have been inside the city before. Police shot and killed one on the city's north side in October 2012.