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NEWS 4.11.22

Election 2022 Iowa Senate
Liz Martin/AP
The Gazette
FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2020 file photo, Abby Finkenauer talks with journalists at the Linn County Democrats' office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A state court judge has concluded that Democrat Abby Finkenauer cannot appear on the June 7 primary ballot for U.S. Senate, knocking off the candidate considered by many to be the party's leader in the effort to challenge U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley. (Liz Martin/The Gazette via AP, File)

A state court judge has concluded that Iowa Democrat Abby Finkenauer cannot appear on the June 7 primary ballot for U.S. Senate, knocking off the candidate considered by many to be the party’s best chance to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley.

The judge in Polk County ruled she did not collect enough valid signatures.

The judge agreed with challengers who argued that three signatures from Allamakee and Cedar counties should not be counted because they had incorrect or missing dates.

Attorneys for Finkenauer and the state are short on time to appeal the decision. Ballot printing is expected to begin Friday to meet a deadline for military and overseas voters.

Along with Finkenauer, Democrats Mike Franken and Glenn Hurst are also competing to take on Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in November.

Governor Kim Reynolds is calling on Christian conservatives to lobby Republicans in the House to pass a bill that provides state scholarships for 10,000 students to attend private school.

Radio Iowa reports Reynolds was among a handful of Republican office-holders who spoke to hundreds of Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition members over the weekend.

Thirty-one Republicans in the Iowa Senate have passed a bill to send payments to low and moderate-income Iowa parents who enroll their kids in private schools, but the bill has yet to be debated in the Republican-led Iowa House.

The governor also discussed proposals pending in the legislature that require schools to list library books and require teachers to give advance notice online about what books, articles and other materials they plan to use in the classroom.

This is the second year Reynolds has asked the Republican-led legislature to create a program that sends state money to parents who enroll their children in private schools. Critics say once the program is established, it will become an ever-expanding entitlement for private school parents and siphon state resources away from public schools.

Gov. Kristi Noem and the South Dakota Department of Social Services are working to expand the number of regional behavioral health facilities across the state. The state received $15 million in federal stimulus funding to support the expansion, which was approved by legislators and included in the department’s overall budget. Noem says that over the next four years, an estimated $3,750,000 will be spent annually for the construction and expansion of facilities across the state. According to authorities, people in mental health crises are often placed in jail or are involuntarily committed to inpatient psychiatric hospitals when they could be served in a less restrictive setting closer to their home and community.

A South Dakota lawmaker who said he gave legal advice to Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg following a fatal car accident says he will not vote on whether to impeach Ravnsborg when the House convenes this week. Republican Rep. Scott Odenbach sent a letter to the House speaker which says he plans to recuse himself from the vote and won’t attend the proceedings in Pierre Tuesday. Odenbach, who at the time was running for the House seat he eventually won, says Ravnsborg reached out to him for input on a public statement that was released two days after the attorney general struck and killed Joe Boever, a pedestrian who was walking along a rural highway in September 2020.

Nearly a quarter of a billion dollars was wagered on sports in Iowa last month.

That's according to The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Sports betting companies took in $233.5 million worth of bets in Iowa in March.

Experts tell KCCI Television in Des Moines Iowa State's Sweet 16 runs and Iowa's tournament berths help boost the number of bets placed. The amount of money wagered jumped more than 8% from February.

State officials say a wildfire in southern Nebraska that destroyed some homes and produced thick smoke that led to the traffic death of an area fire chief has been about half contained. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said in a Facebook post Sunday that the fire, which consumed some 35,000 acres, was 50% contained. The agency said there will be a decrease in the number of firefighters over the coming days as the containment of the fire progresses. The blaze started Thursday after a dead tree was blown into a power line, with strong winds and dry conditions fueling its spread in Gosper and Furnas counties.

Gas prices across the county have fallen an average of 8 cents in the past week and 13 cents in two weeks. This is according to information from AAA. The average price is $4.11 per gallon on Monday. The recent drop comes after the U.S. and other counties announced they would release additional reserves.

A significant spring storm headed for the northern Plains is packing blizzard conditions with significant snow accumulation and drifting, according to the National Weather Service. Meteorologists posted a blizzard warning for a large section of western North Dakota and smaller areas of western South Dakota and eastern Montana beginning Tuesday through Thursday evening. The weather service predicts travel may become difficult to impossible in some places. A winter storm watch was issued for eastern North Dakota, northern South Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Forecasters were expecting a foot to 2 feet of snow in some of the affected areas with lesser amounts elsewhere.

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