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SPM NEWS 2.18.22


Funnel week ends at the Iowa statehouse today for legislation to move forward this legislative session.

One bill squeaking through the process is Governor Reynolds’s School Choice bill.

House Speaker Pat Grassley used his authority to shift the governor’s plan for state-funded private school scholarships to another House committee, so the bill remains eligible for debate.

The bill as currently written did not have enough support among Republicans on the House Education Committee, dooming its chances of clearing the panel by today’s deadline for a committee vote. Grassley has reassigned the bill to the House Appropriations Committee, where all bills are eligible for a vote at any time.

Democrats say public tax dollars should be spent on public schools and they have opposed the governor’s proposals.

For more on the story from Radio Iowa click here: https://www.radioiowa.com/2022/02/18/speaker-keeps-governors-bill-for-private-school-scholarships-alive/
A new report shows the State of Iowa issued nearly $44 million worth of tax refunds last year to corporations claiming a tax credit for research activities.

Corporations claim the research activities credit to reduce what they owe in state taxes and the credit is so lucrative, many corporations erase all of what they owe and then some, so they get a refund check from the State.

For more on the story from Radio Iowa click here: https://www.radioiowa.com/2022/02/18/corporations-claiming-iowas-research-activities-credit-got-44-million-in-refunds/

The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against Gov. Kim Reynolds by a group of six Des Moines area bars that challenged her brief shutdown of their businesses in August and September 2020 when COVID-19 was rapidly spreading. The bars initially sought damages but later dropped those claims and were asking the court to allow their case to go to trial so they could pursue a case to limit the governor’s powers to close targeted groups of businesses during a proclaimed emergency. Their case was dismissed by a state court judge who concluded the case was moot because the bars were closed only for a short period and then reopened by the governor. The Iowa Supreme Court agreed Friday and affirmed the dismissal.

A new monthly survey of bankers released Thursday says the strength of the economy in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states continues to drive farmland prices and farm equipment sales higher. The overall economic index for the region grew to 61.5 in February from January’s 61.1. Any score above 50 suggests growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says the region is benefitting from a combination of solid grain prices, low interest rates and strong agricultural exports. The survey covers Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

South Dakota House Republicans are passing a bill to require audits of ballots and voting equipment in close presidential elections. They were spurred by a baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was subject to widespread fraud. Republican Rep. Taffy Howard told the House chamber that other states had seen fraud in the 2020 election and South Dakota’s elections had also had “irregularities.” Her bill would require a “forensic audit” to verify federal office results if two presidential candidates come within 10 percentage points of each other. An Associated Press review of every potential case of voter fraud in the six battleground states found no widespread fraud.

The South Dakota House is passing a proposal to move the state’s presidential primary elections to Super Tuesday in hopes of gaining the state greater attention from White House hopefuls. The bill passed the Republican-controlled chamber on a 41 to 26 vote. It will next proceed to the Senate. It would move the state’s presidential primaries to “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March." That's better known as Super Tuesday, when the greatest number of states hold their primaries and caucuses.

A bipartisan proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in South Dakota survived its first test in the Legislature. A Senate committee on Thursday recommended the proposal for a vote in the full chamber next week. Voters approved recreational marijuana legalization through a ballot measure in 2020. However, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem challenged its constitutionality and the state Supreme Court ruled to nullify it last year. Republican lawmakers are now facing pressure from voters to legalize it. Even some who previously opposed legalization say it should get serious consideration.

Authorities say the body of a man reported missing earlier in the week has been found and pulled from an iced-over back channel of the Missouri River. The Omaha World-Herald reports that 61-year-old Roy Reichle, of St. Helena, is believed to have gone hiking Tuesday evening along the Missouri River near the Meridian Bridge in northeastern Nebraska. When he didn't return, he was reported missing Wednesday morning. The National Park Service says Reichle's body was found Thursday afternoon in a hole in the ice on a back channel of the river.

Two Sioux Falls police officers are facing child pornography charges in what officials say are unrelated cases. Twenty-eight-year-old Luke Schauer has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of attempted production of child pornography and transfer of obscene materials to minors. Schauer has bonded out of jail. Twenty-three-year-old Matthew Jock is charged in state court with five counts of possession, manufacturing and distribution of child pornography. He remains in custody at the Minnehaha County Jail on a $25,000 cash bond. The city's chief and the mayor say they will be reviewing the police department's internal policies and procedures.

Briar Cliff University president Dr. Rachelle Keck is a finalist for the same position at Grand View University in Des Moines.

In a release from the university, BCU Board Chairman Steve Freeman said Dr. Keck will continue to serve Briar Cliff throughout this process.

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