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NEWS 3.23.22

Obit Albright
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
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AP
FILE - Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaks during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016. Albright has died of cancer, her family said Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds calls former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright an extraordinary woman and trailblazer after news of her passing.

A statement by Reynolds goes on to say, “Albright cared deeply about our world and those within it and had a major impact on countless lives.”

Albright a child of Czech refugees who served the Clinton administration died on Wednesday of cancer at the age of 84.

Federal officials are reporting that Iowa’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are continuing to drop.

As of Wednesday, 67 Iowans are hospitalized with COVID-19.

The state is again nearing its all-time record low for statewide COVID hospitalizations that was set in June of last year.

State health officials have also confirmed 816 additional positive COVID-19 tests in the past seven days.

An additional 53 Iowans were confirmed in the past week to have died from the virus, bringing the state’s total death count to just over 94 hundred.

The Centers for Disease Control is reporting that no Iowa counties have high community levels of COVID-19.

According to state data, over 58 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated against the virus.

A hearing scheduled for Thursday in the case of one of the teenagers charged with killing a southeast Iowa teacher has been placed on hold after his attorney sought a review by the Iowa Supreme Court. Willard Miller and Jeremy Goodale, both 16, are charged with murder in the death of Spanish teacher Nohema Graber, who was found dead Nov. 3 at a Fairfield park. Miller’s attorney wants a hearing on suppression of evidence she claims was obtained in violation of Miller's constitutional rights before other hearings and has asked the high court to rule on her request. A judge on Wednesday postponed Miller's hearing but Goodale's hearing is still set for Thursday. Police say the teens used a baseball bat to kill Graber.

Students at East High School in Des Moines are back in class after about two weeks off following the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old on their campus. The Des Moines Public School district says it will increase security at all high schools including additional security patrols in parking lots and the surrounding neighborhoods.

High school students in Waukee walked out Wednesday morning in protest of Iowa’s new transgender athlete law.

About 100 students from both high schools marched out of the school and across the road to a park. There, they took turns giving speeches.

Earlier this month, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law banning transgender athletes from competing in female sports. That applies to high school sports.

The law took effect immediately. At that time, Iowa joined 10 other states in banning transgender athletes.

Planned Parenthood in South Dakota and four neighboring states are getting a $20 million boost from billionaire MacKenzie Scott.

Leaders with Planned Parenthood North Central States, representing South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, said in a press release that this is the largest single gift in the organization's history.

The gift will fund Planned Parenthood's mission of sexual and reproductive health care, comprehensive sex education and advocacy for more than 100,000 people a year, organization leaders said.

20 other Planned Parenthood affiliates and the national office are receiving a total $275 million from Scott.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A proposal to lower Nebraska’s top income tax rates has gotten a substantial makeover to try to build support among state lawmakers after it hit a procedural roadblock in the Legislature. Members of the tax-focused Revenue Committee voted to slow the phase-in of the income tax cuts, from three years to five. They also agreed to an amendment that would create an income tax credit to offset the taxes that property owners pay to community colleges. Combining the proposals is likely to win support from some rural lawmakers who consider property taxes their top concern. However, some senators say they’re still opposed to income tax cuts that would largely benefit the wealthy and out-of-state corporations.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers have taken an initial step toward repealing a state law that bars people with certain drug convictions from getting federal food assistance. Lawmakers gave the measure first-round approval on a 25-17 vote. Two additional votes are required before it goes to Gov. Pete Ricketts. Sen. Megan Hunt, of Omaha, says the lifetime ban makes no sense for people who committed their crimes decades ago, and she notes that it doesn’t apply to other serious crimes. Nebraska currently denies federal food benefits to low-income residents who have been convicted of at least three drug-possession felonies and those who have been found guilty of selling or distributing illegal drugs.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers have given initial approval to a state budget bill that includes $53.5 million to lay the groundwork for a canal project to divert water out of Colorado, plus millions of dollars for other projects around the state. The budget measure advanced through the first of three votes, 39-4, despite protests from some lawmakers who said the state isn’t doing enough for parts of Nebraska that need it most. The bill would dig into the state’s $1.3 billion cash reserve for a variety of projects, including $30 million for a rural workforce housing grant program, $100 million for recreational water projects and $8.3 million to finish a bike trail between Lincoln and Omaha.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has signed a bill to wipe away state and county fees for concealed firearm permits. The Republican governor brought the proposal this year as a way to both tout her support for gun ownership rights and cut government fees. She initially proposed eliminating state business filing fees as part of the bill, but lawmakers struck that portion from the legislation. They argued it would have created a flood of out-of-state entities applying for business registrations in South Dakota. The bill is estimated to cost the state about $110,000 annually in lost revenue.

The emerald ash borer has now been found in two more Siouxland counties. The insect that threatens ash trees was found in Clay and O’Brien counties, according to ISU Extention. The pest has been found in all of Iowa’s 99 counties, except 10. Earlier this month, the pest was discovered in Ida and Sioux Counties. Counties without any confirmed include Woodbury, Plymouth, Monona, Osceola, and Dickinson.

For more information from the Sioux City Journal click here: https://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/state-and-regional/emerald-ash-borer-found-in-clay-obrien-counties/article_6d5a46e8-7b9f-57a9-b83d-b161610515b8.html

Information from Iowa State Extension: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/emerald-ash-borer-3-more-iowa-counties

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News release from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:

DES MOINES -- Gov. Reynolds today signed two bills into law relating to anti-BDS of Israel and antisemitism during a formal meeting with the Israeli Consul General to the Midwest Yinam Cohen.

HF2373 is an act relating to restrictions regarding companies boycotting Israel.

HF2220 is an act relating to antisemitism in the state of Iowa.

"Today we express Iowa’s enduring support for the State of Israel and our categorical rejection of anti-Semitism,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Together, these bills send an important message: Iowa continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with the State of Israel, one of America’s most important and reliable allies, while fighting all forms of religious and ethnic discrimination.”

“We strongly believe that both Iowa and Israel can continue to work together to create lasting partnerships that are beneficial to both states and local economies. Gov. Reynolds has been steadfast in her support for Israel and she has witnessed firsthand Israel’s achievements in innovation, water technology, medicine, and more” added Cohen.

Both bills will go into effect on July 1, 2022.

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