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NEWS 12.31.21

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls, SD

Iowa and Nebraska could begin the new year with dangerous wind chills and heavy snow, and drivers in parts of Nebraska encountered slick roads on Friday due to patchy freezing drizzle.

The National Weather Service predicts that southeastern Nebraska could see 6 to 9 inches of snow on Saturday, while the Omaha area could see 3 to 6 inches.

Parts of southern Iowa could see up to 10 inches, and central Iowa could get 4 to 9 inches, according to the weather service.

Eastern Nebraska and southwestern Iowa both saw freezing drizzle and icy roads Friday, causing treacherous driving conditions. The National Weather Service announced a wind chill advisory for Siouxland starting at 9 p.m. Friday.

With the rise of at-home COVID-19 testing kits, public health officials say they’re asking the public to report positive test results.

Health officials say Iowans with a positive test result should report it to their local public health department. That’s so they can track the spread of the virus.

South Dakota has recorded the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in more than a year. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports state health officials reported 8,323 active cases on Thursday, the most since Dec. 21, 2020, when the state had 8,373 active cases. That was the last time the state had seen more than 8,000 active cases until Thursday. COVID-19 patents occupied 240 hospital beds on Thursday, with 74 in intensive care and 52 on ventilators. Another 381 people received a first vaccine dose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 percent of the state's eligible population is now fully vaccinated.

Authorities say a California man arrested in Iowa had an assault rifle, ammunition and a “hit list” that named President Joe Biden, former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and others. The Des Moines Register reports that police pulled over the man on Interstate 80 on Dec. 21 because he was driving aggressively. Police say the man made concerning comments about Biden during the stop, so he was taken to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office for questioning. According to the criminal complaint, he told investigators he left his home in Sacramento on Dec. 18 to drive straight to the White House to kill people in power. The man has been charged with making threats to a former president.

Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidate Theresa Thibodeau has announced plans for a statewide campaign trip, starting Monday. Thibodeau said she will embark on an eight-day “listening tour” to meet with voters. Thibodeau is a former Nebraska state senator, business owner and chairwoman of the Douglas County Republican Party. She was initially chosen as the running mate of another GOP gubernatorial candidate, Charles Herbster, but later withdrew from that campaign. She announced her intention to run for governor in November. Thibodeau is hoping to win a compeititive Republican primary that includes Herbster, University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, state Sen. Brett Lindstrom, and Omaha information technology manager Breland Ridenour.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has granted a three-month extension to a commission tasked with recommending changes to the state’s child support payment laws. The Child Support Commission faced a deadline to issue a report to the governor and Legislature by the end of 2021, but Noem extended the commission until the end of March through an executive order. The commission is tasked with recommending updates to state child support payment laws and had moved towards recommending a reduction of child support payments for parents with lower incomes.

It's budget time in Pierre. KELO-TV reports that the Legislature's Joint Committee on Appropriations plans to start a series of four hearings on the state budget next week. The committee plans to meet with the state Department of Human Services on Tuesday, the Board of Regents on Wednesday, the Department of Corrections on Thursday and the Department of Social Services on Jan. 10. The rest of the committee's January schedule is packed with additional hearings with more than 30 bureaus, departments and constitutional offices.

South Dakota's minimum wage will go up on Saturday. KELO-TV reports that the minimum wage will rise 50 cents on Jan. 1, from $9.45 an hour to $9.95 an hour. A state law passed in 2016 mandates that the minimum wage increase annually to keep pace with the cost of living as measured by the U.S. Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index. The increase applies to all South Dakota employers. The hourly minimum wage for tipped employees is currently $4.97, half the wage for non-tipped employees.

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Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.