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NEWS 1.11.22

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
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Governor Noem gives "State of the State" address to South Dakota lawmakers on January 11, 2022

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem delivered her final State of State address of her first term in office on Tuesday.

“We are leading with freedom, limited government, fiscal responsibility, and defending the values that have made our country great.”

Governor Noem also pushed for more tax cuts, a heartbeat law, and wants to pass what she calls the toughest law in the country banning transgender athletes from sports.

Democratic lawmakers say as cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in the state Governor Noem is pretending the health threat is over.

They want her to focus on important issues for the state and the liberties of all people.

Governor Noem also touted economic development in the Sioux City metro area as North Sioux City is adding more than 300 acres to its industrial park and building 300 workforce homes.

From the Associated Press:

Business groups warn that bills seen as discriminatory to transgender people may result in the state losing out on sports tournaments and other conventions. But conservative lawmakers want to push the governor to take a harder stance on the issue. Advocates for transgender people say the legislation bullies a group of people who are already marginalized.

Gov. Kim Reynolds unveils her priorities tonight during Iowa’s annual Condition of the State address.

Reynolds told reporters last week that she plans a “bold and historic agenda” for the 2022 legislative session, including tax cuts, a “comprehensive workforce package,” and education reform.

You can hear Governor Reynolds live tonight at 6 p.m. on Siouxland Public Media.

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota says he stands by his statement that former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, after Trump called his fellow Republican a “jerk” for his comments. Rounds said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by Trump’s attack. The senator said his remarks Sunday on ABC's “This Week” show weren't new information. He said there was “no evidence of widespread fraud that would have altered the results of the election," and that Republicans should focus on winning elections. Trump said Rounds only spoke out because he just won reelection in 2020 “and those are the only ones, the weak, who will break away.”

Staff members in the Sioux City Community School District will not face a vaccine requirement. Monday night, the school board removed the issue from the agenda. Board President Dan Greenwell says legal guidance confirmed the district does not need to comply with the federal mandate.

The Sioux City Council is applying for a $15 million dollar grant for its wastewater treatment plant. The State Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against the city claiming put the public at risk by violating water-quality rules from 2012 to 2015. The state is seeking what could end up being hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

Nebraska hospital officials are warning that the state's health care system could quickly be overwhelmed over the next couple weeks if virus cases continue to surge at their current pace. Hospitals are already struggling to find enough beds and staff to treat all their patients, and virus hospitalizations are expected to increase dramatically over the next couple weeks as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads. Plus, many doctors and nurses are currently out sick with COVID-19 or having to quarantine because of exposure to the virus. Todd Consbruck, CEO of Avera St. Anthony’s Hospital in O’Neill, said Monday the sickest patients at his hospital are waiting significantly longer for transfers.

Health officials are imposing a new mask mandate in Omaha to slow the spread of COVID-19 as surging virus cases continue to strain hospital capacity but the plan is drawing strong opposition. Douglas County Health Director Lindsay Huse said Tuesday she decided to impose the mandate over the objections of Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Gov. Pete Ricketts to help give hospitals the “breathing room they need.” The state said the number of people hospitalized with the virus continues to grow this week and hit 635 on Monday. Hospital officials have said they worry that number will soar in the next couple weeks because of the rapid spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus.

A key Iowa lawmaker wants to require carbon pipeline companies to get a large majority of landowner support before asking the state to take property from those who don’t agree.

Two companies are proposing pipelines that would capture carbon emissions from Iowa ethanol plants. Farmers in the proposed path and environmentalists are raising concerns.

Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton chairs the state government committee. He says he wants to protect the rights of landowners.

“You could do a pipeline with 10% landowner approval and ask for eminent domain. I’m not insinuating that the current utilities board would grant it. But the fact that it’s permissible to ask is a problem for me.” 

Kaufmann says he thinks at least 70 percent of landowners should agree before a company asks for eminent domain. But he’s not sure exactly what percentage will end up in his bill. There’s a state law like this in place for pipeline projects that pass through Iowa, but not for those that have terminals within the state.

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking its first major action to address toxic wastewater from coal-burning power plants. It's denying requests by three Midwest power plants to extend operations of leaking or otherwise dangerous coal ash storage ponds. EPA says plants in Indiana, Ohio and Iowa will have to close coal ash ponds months or years ahead of schedule. Coal ash is the substance that remains when coal is burned to generate electricity. It can pollute waterways, poison wildlife and cause respiratory illness among those living near massive ponds where the waste is stored. The action marks the first time the EPA has enforced a 2015 rule aimed at reducing groundwater pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Two coal plants operated by MidAmerican Energy in the Sioux City Metro Area are not on the EPA’s list.

The State of Iowa has agreed to pay nearly 1 million dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim made by a social worker with the Iowa Department of Human Services.

In a lawsuit, Jennifer Jackson claimed that her supervisor grabbed her and her coworkers’ breasts and made inappropriate sexual comments on a daily basis.

The State Appeals Board today (Tuesday) approved an agreement to pay Jackson 205,000 dollars plus additional monthly payments over seven years.

As part of the settlement, the state does not admit to mishandling her harassment complaint.

The settlement follows a related case where a jury awarded nearly 800,000 dollars to a social work administrator who accused her manager of making abusive sexual comments.

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