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NEWS 5.27.22: Travel alert, South Dakota election ruling, Siouxland drought, final graduation ceremonies for Superintendent Gausman, and more


Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds didn’t directly say if she’d be open to changing Iowa’s gun laws when asked today in the wake of a school shooting in Texas.

Reynolds has signed several laws in recent years to loosen Iowa’s gun regulations. That includes removing the requirement to get a permit to buy and carry a handgun.

Reynolds says there’s not one single answer to preventing mass shootings.

“It’s looking for ways to harden the school, it’s talking about having a conversation about state resource officers, we have school districts that are pulling them out. It’s not the single answer. But it’s part of the overall response.”

Reynolds says she’s proud that she led the creation of a framework for a children’s mental health system. And of a law passed a few years ago that requires schools to establish and practice an emergency plan to respond to a potential shooting. She’s also considering using federal COVID relief money for sharing school layouts and emergency plans with first responders.

As we head into the heavily-traveled Memorial Day weekend, 110 people have died on Iowa's roads and highways this year. That number is the highest in the past five years. Officials with the Iowa State Patrol say troopers will be out in full force trying to keep motorists safe. They urge people to drive the speed limit, wear a seatbelt, and drink responsibly. Of all of the deaths, almost half were not wearing a seatbelt. And around 30% involved a driver impaired by drugs and alcohol.

This November, Iowa voters will decide whether to add a pro-gun amendment to the state constitution.

Tim Hagle, a professor of political science at the University of Iowa, tells KCCI Television in Des Moines that the amendment simplifies Iowans' rights to keep and bear arms.

Hagle said if it doesn't pass in November, it won't have a significant effect since Iowans are still given the right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Friday marks one year since Xavior Harrelson went missing from his home in Montezuma, Iowa. There are still more questions than answers.

The 10-year-old disappeared from the mobile home he shared with his mother. His story gained national attention, but searches turned up empty for months.

In September, a farmer discovered his remains in a field just outside Montezuma. State investigators have released very few details about his death. The cause of death has not been released.

In October, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation officials confirmed to KCCI Television in Des Moines that a search warrant had been executed at a home in New Sharon that was related to the Xavior Harrelson case.

Radio Iowa reports former State Auditor Richard Johnson has died at the age of 87.

Johnson, a Republican, served 25 years as State Auditor before his retirement in January of 2003. Johnson began working in state government in 1968 and served as the finance director of what was then called the Iowa Highway Commission.

In late 1978, the state auditor died. Governor Robert Ray appointed Johnson to the office in early 1979, and Johnson won reelection as state auditor six times.

Johnson endorsed and actively campaigned for then-Congressman Fred Grandy as Grandy ran against Governor Terry Branstad. Grandy came within 3.6 points of defeating Branstad in the GOP primary that year. The legislature passed a resolution in 2002, praising Johnson for his political courage.

Current State Auditor Rob Sand has released written statement, extending his condolences to Johnson's family. Sand said Johnson's record is a source of inspiration for him and others in the office.

About 400 workers at Planned Parenthood offices in five Midwestern states plan to unionize. The move comes as their employer deals with the potential loss of business in states where abortions may become illegal if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Ashley Schmidt is a training and development specialist for Nebraska and western Iowa. She says workers at Planned Parenthood North Central States in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota formally filed for a union election with a National Labor Relations Board on Thursday. The workers plan to join S.E.I.U. Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, which represents Planned Parenthood workers in other states.

A judge has ruled that South Dakota is violating federal laws by failing to make it easier to vote.

A U.S. District Judge released an opinion on Thursday that sided with two South Dakota American Indian tribes, the Rosebud Sioux and the Oglala Sioux. The tribes argued in a 2020 complaint that the South Dakota secretary of state's office was not adhering to the National Voter Registration Act.

The latest drought report shows the driest part of the state is here in Siouxland. About 2% of the state of Iowa is considered severely dry and covers the counties of Woodbury, Plymouth, and Monona Counties. The rest of the state has been slowly improving since March.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says several rounds of severe weather could happen through the holiday weekend, with the greatest threats in the evening and overnight hours. A post on social media says with outdoor activities this holiday weekend; it is important to plan ahead and know where to seek safe, sturdy shelter and how you'll receive possible warnings.

Superintendent of the Sioux City Community School District, Dr. Paul Gausman, will oversee his last high school graduation ceremonies this weekend. Gausman was hired as the new leader of the public school system in Lincoln, Nebraska. All three Sioux City High Schools and the virtual academy will hold graduations tomorrow at the Tyson Events Center. The day starts with North High's graduation at 11 a.m., West and the Vibe Academy at 2:30, and East at 6 p.m.

One of the last remaining U.S. Navy W.A.V.E.S., a group of women who served in World War II, has died.

The Sioux City Journal reports Estelle Leinen of Dow City died at home on May 17 at the age of 100.

Graduating from high school in 1940, she enlisted in the U.S. Navy Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services, or W.A.V.E.S., in 1943, after being recruited by Genevieve Sullivan, sister of the five Waterloo, Iowa-born Sullivan Brothers, who were all killed in action on the light cruiser U.S.S. Juneau in 1942.


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