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NEWS 1.25.22

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A federal appeals court has allowed Iowa to enforce a law that prevents local schools from imposing mask mandates. However, the court also allowed a group of parents of disabled children to pursue a lawsuit that seeks to strike down the law. Two members of a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Omaha on Tuesday found a previous federal judge’s decision that blocked the state ban on mask mandates was too broad. They sided with the parents and a disability rights group in concluding that their lawsuit can proceed in federal court. The panel found the parents likely will succeed because mask requirements constitute a reasonable modification and schools’ failure to provide this accommodation likely violates the federal Rehabilitation Act.

The Sioux City school board voted to allow Superintendent Paul Gausman to implement temporary mask mandates for individual schools. Gausman says the plan will help counter the spread of COVID-19 and will be issued for schools with an infection rate of more than 3%.

Iowa Republican senators gave first-round approval to a plan that would require parents to give written consent for any vaccines to be given to their children.

Health care groups and the Iowa Department of Public Health say parental consent is already required, but verbal consent is allowed under current law. They say taking that away could have unintended consequences and lead to kids falling behind on their vaccinations.

The Iowa Public Health Association is opposing the bill. Lina Tucker Reinders is the executive director.

“Verbal consent allows for parents to have those important conversations with their providers or child providers about any questions they have about the vaccinations that their children are about to be given.  Requiring written consent would impede upon these conversations.”

Some members of a group that opposes vaccines say they support the bill because they’ve heard stories of teenagers who were given the COVID-19 vaccine without parental consent. Reinders says they should provide evidence to the Board of Medicine so those cases can be investigated.

A semi-driver died in a crash on Highway 75 in Plymouth County this morning. It happened around 5 a.m. in Merrill, causing a power outage for some in and around the community.

Full story from Radio Iowa can be found here: https://www.radioiowa.com/2022/01/25/bill-bans-traffic-camera-contracts-with-out-of-state-companies/

The long debate over automated traffic enforcement cameras has resumed at the Iowa state capitol.

A bill that’s cleared a Senate subcommittee would prohibit Iowa cities from using out-of-state companies to install and maintain the cameras or to issue the tickets for speeding and running red lights.

Another bill that’s under consideration in the Senate would require police departments to hold at least two public hearings to explain the data collected from traffic enforcement cameras and what alternatives have been tried in the areas where cameras are ticketing speeders.

Nebraska’s unemployment rate dipped to a historic, national low once again last month. The Nebraska Department of Labor reports a state unemployment rate of 1.7% in December. Nebraska retained its spot as the state with the lowest rate, followed by Utah with a 1.9% rate and Oklahoma with 2.3%.

Nebraska’s rate is also the lowest on record since data collection began in 1976, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The state has kept the lowest rate through much of the pandemic.

Iowa’s unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in December. Iowa Workforce Development reported Tuesday that the rate was down from November’s 3.7% rate and reflected that 5,200 more people found jobs.

The percentage of Iowans in the labor force also increased slightly. Iowa’s rate was ranked 20th in the country.

The national unemployment rate for December was 3.9%.

Warren Buffett’s company plans to hold its annual shareholder's meeting that used to routinely attract more than 40,000 people in person this spring for the first time since the pandemic began. The meeting will be held at a downtown Omaha arena on April 30. For the past two years, the meeting was held online only. In years past, throngs of people would fill the arena every year to listen to Buffett and other Berkshire officials spend hours answering any and all questions. Many of Berkshire’s more than 90 companies also set up booths to sell some of the products in a crowded exhibit hall adjoining the arena.

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