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Newscast 2.6.24: South Dakota could move school elections to November; Siouxland governors sending guard members to border; Land switch back to Winnebago Tribe clears hurdle

South Dakota legislators are considering switching the dates of public school board elections to November, a move that occurred in Iowa four years ago and which greatly boosted voter turnout.

A South Dakota House committee on Tuesday took up the measure, and speakers both opposed and supported the change.

Siouxland area Representative Aaron Alyward said the change would increase voter participation, and also decrease costs by having them take place with other longstanding types of election contests in November.

Iowa moved the school board elections to take place on odd-numbered years, to coincide with city elections in 2019. A report showed that voter participation surged by 150 percent that first year, and those elections have subsequently taken place in 2021 and 2023.

As a federal legislative proposal to revise immigration policy and possibly strengthen Mexican border security faces an uncertain future, the tri-state Siouxland governors continue to give support to the Texas governor in the form of national guard staffing.

Additionally, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds in late January said she agrees with the Texas Governor who is spurning a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that measures to secure the southern border at Mexico should not include razor wire. Now, she has announced a plan to send Iowa National Guard members to do border enforcement in Texas.

The upcoming usage of guard members will be the third time Reynolds has sent Iowans to Texas.

Additionally, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen and Reynolds two days ago went to the border with 13 other Republican state governors for a security briefing on what is called Operation Lone Star. Two weeks ago, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem went to the border, which she called a “war zone.”

Reynolds on Monday said she doubts the bipartisan U.S. Senate border legislation bill will pass. On Tuesday, Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer said she would not support the bill.

A divided Supreme Court in late January allowed Border Patrol agents to resume cutting for now razor wire that Texas installed on the banks of the Rio Grande River, and which has injured migrants. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has since said Texas has a constitutional right to defend itself, and the tri-state governors are supporting that.

Additionally, Federal legislation that would return land in northwest Iowa to the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska made another move forward Monday, advancing in the U.S. House.

In 1970, the U.S. Government took 1,600 acres away from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska through eminent domain. The plan was to use the ground along the Missouri River in Woodbury and Monona Counties for a recreation area, but that did not pan out.

The Winnebago Land Transfer Act, which was sponsored by Northwest Iowa Congressman Randy Feenstra, also had the support of all three House members from Nebraska. The U.S. Senate will next take up the bill, and all four senators from Iowa and Nebraska have said they support the measure.

A delegation of Winnebago Tribe people went to Washington to push for bill passage, asserting that switching the ownership is way overdue, since tribal members take seriously being good stewards of Mother Earth.

In other news, Republicans on an Iowa House subcommittee advanced Governor Kim Reynolds’ bill Tuesday that would require transgender Iowans to include both their sex assigned at birth and post-transition sex on their driver’s license and birth certificate.

It would also define terms like man, woman, mother and father in state law, based on a person’s sex at birth. The bill says, quote, “separate accommodations are not inherently unequal.” And it would allow certain facilities to separate people based on their sex at birth.
Denise Bubeck with The Family Leader group said Reynolds is standing up for women by clearly defining the term.

Transgender Iowans and their allies spoke out against the bill. They said it violates privacy, promotes discrimination, and puts transgender people in danger. Some observers have also asserted that the bill is unconstitutional.