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NEWS 2.24.22

Judge Brown Jack
Tom Williams/AP
Pool CQ Roll Call
FILE - Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on pending judicial nominations on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 28, 2021. Jackson is among the women considered top prospects to replace retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and fulfill a campaign pledge President Joe Biden made to nominate the first Black woman to the court. Jackson attended Harvard for college and law school and was a law clerk to Breyer. (Tom Williams/Pool via AP, File)

A 21-year-old man has been sentenced to prison for his role in the death outside a Sioux City bar last May. Lawrence Canady was sentenced Friday to 16 years for voluntary manslaughter and other counts in the death of 22-year-old Martez Harrison. The judge also revoked Canady's probation from an earlier case and added five years to the sentence. Prosecutors said Canady and Harrison fought outside Uncle Dave's Bar and when Harrison fell, another man shot him twice while Canady continued to hit him. Canady's attorneys argued he acted in self-defense. The second suspect, 17-year-old Dwight Evans, is charged with first-degree murder in Hartez's death.

Both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators serve on the committee that will hold the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley said they are committed to a “fair and respectful” review of Judge Jackson’s qualifications.

Grassley is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a written statement, Grassley congratulated Judge Jackson on her nomination and he said it is critical that all nominees to the nation’s highest court receive “a most thorough and rigorous vetting” in the committee. Republican Senator Joni Ernst, a member of the Judiciary Committee since 2019, said justices must be impartial and must not bend “to the political winds of the moment.”

A bill that would automatically outlaw abortion in Nebraska if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its Roe v. Wade decision drew strong support and fierce opposition in a legislative hearing. The measure would ban abortions if the court struck down its landmark 1973 ruling, if the U.S. Constitution was amended, or if Congress passed a law allowing states to do so. At least 12 other Republican-led states have passed similar laws. The Judiciary Committee is also considering two other bills that would restrict abortion.

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that allowing people charged with felonies to enter written pleas instead of appearing in court in person during the COVID-19 pandemic was appropriate and did not violate the rights of defendants. The court ruled Friday in the case of Timothy Basquin of Fayette, who was charged, pleaded guilty and was convicted of intent to manufacture or deliver methamphetamine. He entered a written plea in November 2020, when Iowa was experiencing a surge of virus cases and the court was allowing virtual procedures and written pleas. He appealed, saying court rules and due process rights required a in-person plea in open court. The court unanimously concluded its orders balanced the rights of defendants and public safety.

The South Dakota prosecutors who charged the state’s attorney general with misdemeanors in a 2020 fatal car crash defended their charging decision to lawmakers weighing whether he should face impeachment charges. The two prosecutors say neither the fact that North Dakota investigators doubted Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s account of the crash on a rural highway nor the surrounding pressure from Gov. Kristi Noem swayed them to pursue more severe charges. Ravnsborg pled no contest in August to a pair of misdemeanors in the September 2020 crash that killed a man walking near a rural highway.

A South Dakota House Republican has introduced a resolution calling Gov. Kristi Noem’s alleged involvement in her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license from a state agency “unacceptable.” Republican Rep. John Mills says he brought the resolution to demonstrate that the governor should act with integrity. But Noem's spokesman Ian Fury says Mills is attacking the governor to help her Republican primary challenger. The resolution would have no force of law but would state the House’s opinion if it were passed.

South Dakota House Republican lawmakers have revived a bill to rid the state’s medical marijuana law of a provision that allows patients with debilitating medical conditions to avoid criminal charges for pot possession if they have not obtained a marijuana identification card. The bill has already passed the Senate. It was dismissed Wednesday by a House committee. But the bill was resurrected Thursday with support from one-third of the House in a maneuver called a “smokeout.” It would still need support from at least half the House to get a vote in the chamber.

For more from Radio Iowa click here: https://www.radioiowa.com/2022/02/24/prayer-and-ovations-in-iowa-legislature-in-support-of-ukraine/

Tax policy dominated yesterday’s debate in the Iowa legislature, but the dire situation in Ukraine was the subject of a fiery prayer in the Senate and the House ended its day with a standing ovation for the people of Ukraine.

Thursday afternoon, just after voting on the tax bill, senators from both parties gave brief speeches in support of the people and the government of Ukraine. Thursday night, after a partisan debate over the tax bill, members of the House shared a moment of unity.

The Iowa Legislature did send a bill to Gov. Kim Reynolds that creates a 3.9% flat tax in four years, eliminates taxes on retirement income and lowers taxes for corporations at an estimated cost of nearly $2 billion when fully implemented in a state with an annual $8 billion budget.

Iowa will join about 10 other states with a flat tax when she signs it.

Nebraska lawmakers have given initial approval to personal and corporate income tax cuts backed by Gov. Pete Ricketts, despite reservations about who would benefit the most and the likely revenue losses for the state. Senators voted, 40-1, to advance the bill through the first of three required votes but promised to work on changes to try to ease some of the concerns.

Nebraska lawmakers are moving ahead with a plan to review the state’s procurement practices after facing multi-million-dollar problems with a child welfare provider that overpromised and under-delivered. Lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill that would require the state to hire an outside consultant to conduct the study. The measure comes in response to Nebraska’s problems with Kansas-based St. Francis Ministries. St. Francis was a state contractor that oversaw the care of abused and neglected children in Douglas and Sarpy counties in the Omaha area.

A seasoned political operative from Omaha will become the next executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. Party officials say Precious McKesson will replace the party’s current executive director, Jim Rogers, in late March. Rogers is taking a different job in the private sector after eight years in his post. McKesson has served as the state party’s finance director and also worked as the Nebraska political director of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. She was also the first woman and African American to serve as an elector for the Democratic Party in Nebraska, making history when she cast an Electoral College vote for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Iowa will receive an estimated 174 million dollars from an opioid lawsuit settlement with Johnson and Johnson and major pharmaceutical distributors.

Fifty-two states and territories are part of the agreement which totals 26 billion dollars.

Attorney General Tom Miller says the money will go toward addressing the opioid crisis in Iowa.

According to the CDC, 448 Iowans reportedly died of opioid overdoses from September 2020 to September 2021.

County and local governments that signed onto the deal will also receive a portion of Iowa’s share of the settlement.

It’s the largest multi-state settlement since a deal was reached with tobacco companies in 1998.

The National Weather Service says Des Moines has seen a near 50-year record for snowfall with the latest winter storm to move through the state. The service says 5.2 inches of snow was recorded Thursday at the Des Moines International Airport. That tops the 5.1 inches recorded on the same day in 1975. The weather service says Polk City, about 13 miles north of Des Moines, also recorded 5.2 inches of snow Thursday. Other Iowa communities saw a range of snow totals, from around 1 inch to 4.5 inches in Indianola and Pella.

Ernst Statement on President Biden’s SCOTUS Nomination

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) issued the following statement after President Biden announced he would nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court:

“The Supreme Court plays a fundamental role in the defense of our Constitution and in the protection of our rights and liberties. Justices must be impartial, fair, and dedicated to interpreting the text of the Constitution and upholding the rule of law—not bending to the political winds of the moment.

“I will carry out my duty as a United States Senator and meet with and evaluate President Biden’s nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, for our nation’s highest court. Judge Jackson, and the American people, deserve a fair, respectful, and thorough review.”

Twitter/Sen. John Thune

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