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NEWS 11.30.21

Heartland Greenway

The Iowa Utilities Board is holding a public hearing tonight in Sioux City surrounding a carbon dioxide pipeline that will go through five states.

The Navigator Heartland Greenway project would capture emissions at multiple ethanol plants across the five states. Some researchers say carbon capture is vital to lowering emissions, but some worry about safety.

Meeting took place yesterday in Rock Rapids and LeMars, and Cherokee County this morning. Other hearings are planned for Sheldon, Sibley, Spirit Lake. and Estherville.

More information is available on the Iowa Utilities Board website. https://iub.iowa.gov/press-release/2021-10-27/iub-sets-37-public-informational-meetings-proposed-navigator-pipeline

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case tomorrow that could lead to more abortion restrictions.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned at the national level, and Iowa’s abortion rights precedent stays the same, it’ll still be very difficult for lawmakers here to restrict abortion.

That’s because in 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court said abortion is protected as a fundamental right.

For a Roe v. Wade overturn to affect Iowa, there would have to be a new state Supreme Court decision or voters would have to approve a constitutional amendment.

Sheena Dooley is communications manager for the regional Planned Parenthood.

“If that happens, it really gives lawmakers pretty much unchecked access to regulate and restrict abortion, and they’ve made it clear in Iowa that the intention is to ban abortion.”

The Iowa Supreme Court has new justices, and they’re expected to rule on an abortion case next year. A constitutional amendment could be decided by voters within the next 3 years.

State law enforcement leaders say a backlog of untested sexual assault kits has been processed and it’s now taking much less time for kits to be analyzed for DNA evidence.

An audit in 2017 revealed more than 4,000 sexual assault kits from across the state had never been tested.

At the time, it took the state forensic lab 10 to 14 months to share test results with prosecutors. The average processing time is now about 8 weeks.

Sandi Tibbetts Murphy form the Iowa Attorney General’s office says the faster turnaround gives victims confidence that their cases are being taken seriously.

“To tell a victim, yes you’ve done everything right you’ve reported you got a kit done we’re going to have to wait to file any charges because we’re not going to get any evidence back for a year. To be able to have that now in 8 weeks is monumental.”

Testing of the backlog led to four new criminal cases, and two convictions, for assaults dating as far back as 2003.

A federal judge ordered a former Sioux City plastic surgeon to pay more than $236,000 in damages and penalties for filing dozens of fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid claims when he practiced in Michigan several years ago.

Smith moved to Sioux City in 2014 and was affiliated with Tri-State Specialists before leaving five years later.

Smith, voluntarily surrendered his Iowa medical license in February to resolve charges by the Iowa Medical Board surrounding professional incompetency and unethical conduct involving 17 patients. He also surrendered his South Dakota medical license. Some of Smith’s previous patients reached out to Siouxland Public Media about their concerns surrounding Smith’s competency.

The Sioux City Journal also reports Smith still faces at least eight lawsuits in Woodbury County filed by former patients.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Nebraska rose again last week as the state continued to record one of the highest COVID case rates in the nation.

On Sunday, 528 people were hospitalized, the highest figure since early January.

Eight more people have been added to the number of coronavirus-related deaths in South Dakota or a total of 2,328. On Monday, the Department of Health says 575 more people tested positive.

Elections are being held in four Iowa cities today to decide city council and mayor’s races that were unresolved in the November 2nd election.

Some municipal elections in Iowa’s larger cities require a candidate for city council or mayor to get a simple majority to win. If no candidate surpasses that 50 percent-plus-one vote threshold, a run-off election is held. There are run-off elections for mayor today in Atlantic, Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids. There’s a run-off in Edgewood for a seat on the city council.

The polls for those four run-off races opened at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

For the second time this year, some Nebraska Republicans have voted to censure one of the state’s two GOP U.S. senators. Republican party members in three counties, Dawes, Sheridan, and Hitchcock voted to censure Senator Deb Fisher for supporting the Biden Administrations' $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

Those votes came eight months after Sen. Ben Sasse was also censured by a few county parties, over his criticism of then-President Donald Trump for his role in the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January of last year. Sasse was one of just seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial. Censure is a formal declaration of disapproval, a political denouncement that stops short of expelling someone from a political party or government body.

The Sioux City Journal reports employers in the Sioux City metro area added 500 non-farm jobs in October as a shortage of workers kept unemployment at historically low levels.

The jobless rate in Sioux City and surrounding communities was once again 2.5%, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

The Sioux City Community School District sent out a letter to students and families today about a series of inappropriate social media sites that target students and staff. The district says the sites violate a policy surrounding bullying and harassment. They want any student who created one of the sites to remove it immediately or they could face disciplinary action.

Letter from the Sioux City Community School District:

Dear Sioux City Community School District Students & Families,

Recently, we became aware of several inappropriate social media sites targeting members of our district community including students and staff. We take the nature of these sites and the content on them very seriously. The sites are harassing in nature and violate Board Policy 504.4 which addresses bullying and harassment in the District.

We are committed to providing all students and staff with an environment in which members of our district are treated with dignity and respect. No student or staff member deserves to be the subject of hurtful, disrespectful, or inappropriate social media content. Bullying and harassment of any kind, including the content on these social media sites, are not tolerated. Any student found to be in violation of our board policy will be subject to appropriate discipline or other action pursuant to District policies.

We encourage any student who has created one of these social media sites to remove it immediately. Students are also discouraged from commenting on these sites as their comments could also be a violation of school policy.

The students and staff in our district have the right to a learning environment where they can believe, achieve, and succeed. They have a right to a supportive community. That starts with respect for one another.

Thank you for partnering with us to ensure our district community is a safe learning environment where every member is respected.

The NAIA Women’s Volleyball tournament started today at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City with COVID-19 precautions. Athletes and staff from 24 different teams were required to test before coming to Sioux City. Also, masks will be required for anyone who attends the tournament. The championship game is set for Saturday at 7 p.m.

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