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NEWS 5.26.21: Trial Updates, NE Political Boundaries, and More

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A trial date has been set for the South Dakota attorney general who struck and killed a man along a highway in Hyde County. Jason Ravnsborg will go on trial Aug. 26 on three misdemeanor charges, including careless driving, operating a vehicle while on an electronic device and driving outside of his lane.

The state Department of Public Safety says Ravnsborg was distracted when he swerved out of his lane near Highmore in central South Dakota and hit 55-year-old Joe Boever who was walking on the shoulder with a flashlight.

Investigators say Boever crashed headfirst through the windshield of Ravnsborg’s car with his glasses landing inside the vehicle.

Ravnsborg told officials he never saw Boever and thought he struck a deer.

The man on trial for the 2018 abduction and stabbing death of a University of Iowa student has claimed for the first time that two masked men were responsible for the crime but forced him to take part at gunpoint. The defense called Cristhian Bahena Rivera to testify at his first-degree murder trial Wednesday. He admitted that his car was the one on surveillance video circling Mollie Tibbetts while she ran in Brooklyn, Iowa on July 18, 2018, that she ended up in its trunk and that he hid her body in a cornfield. But the farm worker denied that he was responsible for stabbing her to death. The defense rested later Wednesday and closing arguments were scheduled for Thursday.

The city manager of Sioux City urged city council members to spend a majority of federal COVID-19 relief dollars on infrastructure, including water and sewer project.

The total amount is more than $43 million.

The council wants to set aside more than five million for nonprofits, tourism and broadband. The city has until the end of 2024 to allocate the money and another two years to spend it.

Nebraska lawmakers have approved formal guidelines for the redrawing of political boundaries, a process that will shape the state’s legislative and congressional districts for the next decade. The 30-16 vote was largely on party lines, with Republicans supporting the guidelines, even though Nebraska’s Legislature is ostensibly nonpartisan. Democrats, who are outnumbered and only hold seats in Omaha- and Lincoln-area districts, say the approved plan gives lawmakers too much wiggle room to tweak the maps for political gain. Lawmakers aren’t expected to begin redistricting until a special session in September because of pandemic-related delays in the release of the U.S. Census population data.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is urging Nebraska lawmakers to uphold his veto of a bill that would let more residents collect food-assistance benefits, arguing that it would slow the state’s recovery from the pandemic.

The Republican governor says in his veto letter that the measure would create a disincentive for recipients to seek better-paying jobs at a time when many businesses are desperate for workers.

The veto drew swift critisism from advocates for the poor, who argue that many recipients are working families with children who are still struggling because of the pandemic.

To help the hungry in our area, another drive-thru giveaway is scheduled for tomorrow in Sioux City. The distribution takes place at 10 a.m. at Sunnybrook Church. More than 1,100 boxes will be handed out through the USDA’s “Farmers to Families” program distributed with help by the Community Action Agency and the Sunnybrook Hope Center.

The holiday weekend ahead is projected to be one of the busiest for Iowa’s highways in many months.

A spokeswoman for AAA Iowa, tells Radio Iowa they’re predicting more than 37-million people nationwide will be traveling over the three-day Memorial Day weekend. That’s 50% more than last year.

That rate is about 15% below levels seen before the pandemic.

The motor club is also projecting nearly two-and-a-half million Americans will be boarding planes this weekend. That’s nearly six times more than last year.

Medical marijuana advocates have convinced South Dakota voters that legalizing the drug for medical use is a good idea, but they are struggling to do the same with many of the state’s physicians. The South Dakota State Medical Association has concerns with the medical pot program. That’s a potential problem for medical pot advocates because the new law depends on involvement from physicians. An advocate for medical pot use says that reluctance from physicians and health care providers could result in a bumbling rollout of the program that will ultimately hurt patients.

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