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News Stories 12.19.19: Ernst Complaint, Ethanol Uproar, Christmas Crime and More

Associated Press

An election watchdog is filing a complaint alleging than an outside group founded by top political aides to Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst violated campaign finance law in its efforts improve the Republican's chance of reelection next year.  

It comes after The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Ernst's work with the political nonprofit Iowa Values to raise money and build an electoral “firewall" potentially violated campaign finance and tax law. 

The complaint by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center requests that the Federal Election Commission launch an investigation.

Some farm groups and farm-state lawmakers are expressing anger at the Trump administration over final ethanol rules that they say fail to uphold the president's promises to the industry.

The EPA has released final renewable fuel standard rules for next year that do not include language President Donald Trump agreed to that would guarantee 15 billion gallons of ethanol is blended into the nation's gasoline supply.

The EPA contends it's fulfilling the promises.

Industry groups say the language in the final rule is too vague and could allow EPA to miss the mandated ethanol requirements.

South Dakota lawmakers are proposing legislation that would require oil companies to pay for cleaning up any pipeline spills or leaks as plans are being made to construct the Keystone XL pipeline in the state.

The bill would require companies to contribute to a state fund based on the pipeline's length with a cap of $100 million.

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline point to a recent spill in northeastern North Dakota in raising concerns about management of the pipeline.  

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has ordered all flags in the state to be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Friday, December 20, in honor and remembrance of University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry.

Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex.

Flags will also be half-staff on all public buildings, grounds and facilities throughout the state.


Christmas is the season for giving, but it’s also a season for thieves.

Ed Mahon, the Police Chief in South Sioux City, shares a few tips on staying safe this time of year.

Mahon says neighborhood watch programs do curb crime.  Plus, getting to know who lives near you can help as well.

“Tell them if you are going to be here or there.  Just watch out for each other because that’s what we should do.”

Mahon says be extra cautious in the parking lots of malls and shopping centers.

 “Park by the lights, park by the door, or go as a group so you don’t get victimized.”

Mahon also urges people to lock gifts and valuables in the trunks of their vehicles.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture says a new insect pest is appearing in Christmas greenery sold in South Dakota and surrounding states.

The pest is known as the elongate hemlock scale.

South Dakota's state forester says the Asian insect was detected by the state's forest health team in wreaths last Christmas.

The insect was found on wreaths made of fir that were shipped in from the southern U.S.

The insect has appeared on similar greenery this year.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has put a stop order on the sale of the material.