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NEWS 6.21.22: Ravnsborg Impeachment Trial, Youth COVID-19 Vaccines, Pipeline Concerns, Drought Threat and More

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg
State of South Dakota
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Prosecutors at the impeachment trial of South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg say he lied to investigators and abused the power of his office after he struck and killed a pedestrian. They are seeking conviction on a pair of impeachment charges that would mean automatic removal from office. Ravnsborg's attorneys countered in Tuesday's opening statements that such an action would improperly undo the will of voters for what Ravnsborg has maintained was an accident. Ravnsborg struck and killed 55-year-old Joe Boever in September 2020. Ravnsborg told a 911 dispatcher that he was in the middle of the road and might have struck a deer, and has said he didn't know he hit a man until the next day. Criminal investigators said they doubted some of his statements.

Federal health officials have recently given the go ahead to vaccinate children ages six months to four years using either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations.

Joel Waddell is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines. He’s encouraging parents of young children to get them vaccinated as soon as possible.

Waddell says even though it is unlikely young children will get seriously ill from the virus…COVID is now one of the top five causes of death in this age group.

I've seen myself many children, including children in the toddler age group, who've been hospitalized with heart inflammation from COVID itself – from a COVID infection. And we're still learning what that means for lifetime.” 

Waddell says he will be vaccinating his own young children as soon as the shot arrives in Iowa. He encourages parents with questions to reach out to their child’s pediatrician.

Students at Iowa’s three public universities may be paying more for tuition starting in the fall. The Des Moines Register reports that proposed tuition rates were presented at a virtual meeting of Iowa’s Board of Regents on Monday. The proposal includes a 4.25% increase for resident undergraduate tuition at all three schools. A final vote by regents is expected next month. The meeting included comments from student government leaders at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. They called on the state Legislature to increase funding for their schools in order to defray tuition rates that have been steadily rising.

Teachers who go through an Iowa college program no longer have to pass a professional exam to be licensed.

Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill last week (HF 2081) eliminating the Praxis requirement for those new teachers.

It’s one of the steps taken by lawmakers to help fill an education workforce shortage.

The test was a particular obstacle for dual-language across the state because it is only offered in English.

Governor Kim Reynolds recently signed a law that eliminates a test requirement for new teachers from Iowa colleges and universities. It’s part of an effort to ease a statewide teacher shortage.

The Sioux City Community School District is looking for community volunteers to join an Educational Equity Committee. A news release from the district says the committee is committed to ensuring equal opportunity for students and staff through access to educational programs and employment. The deadline to apply is noon on July 11th.

News release from the Sioux City Community School District:

Community Volunteers Sought for School District Educational Equity Committee

The Board of Education for the Sioux City Community School District is seeking community volunteers to join its Educational Equity Committee. Siouxlanders interested in volunteering their time and voices are encouraged to apply for the Educational Equity Committee.

The Educational Equity Committee (EEC) is committed to ensuring equal opportunity for students and staff to access educational programs and employment. In addition, the EEC supports and advises the District on the coordination and development of policies, programs, resources, and methods that increase maximum achievement for all students in a multi-cultural, gender-fair environment. Individuals interested in the committee should apply by noon on Monday, July 11. Applications are available on the District’s website at siouxcityschools.org under Board Committees or by emailing heilmas@live.siouxcityschools.com.

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska is requesting an environmental study for future carbon pipeline projects.

Tribal leaders asked the U.S. Tribal Council, the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors, Dakota County Commissioners and the Iowa Utility Board to require the research be done before issuing any project permits.

A new release today says the Tribal Council passed the resolution in March and then sent out letters in May but are still waiting for a response.

The pipeline being planned by Summit would move carbon dioxide from ethanol and fertilizer plans to North Dakota. It would run through several Siouxland counties. The carbon dioxide would stay underground instead of entering the atmosphere.

Winnebago Tribal Chairwoman Victoria Kitcheyan says, “The Winnebago Tribe stands in solidarity with area farmers who oppose these pipelines and the use of eminent domain to acquire access to lands without landowner consent. The health, well-being, and rights of everyone is important to us all.”

News release from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska:

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska Requests Environmental Impact Study Be Conducted on Proposed Carbon Dioxide Pipelines

Winnebago, NE – The Winnebago Tribal Council unanimously approved a resolution requesting an environmental impact study be conducted on the proposed Summit Carbon Pipeline and Navigator Heartland Greenway Carbon Pipeline. The Council is asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Woodbury County Commissioners, Dakota County Commissioners, and the Iowa Utility Board to require such a study be done prior to any issuance of permits for the carbon dioxide pipelines.

The resolution states that “The Winnebago Tribe has consistently opposed the issuance of pipeline permits that could negatively impact our lands or water... An Environmental Impact Study would outline the effects of the proposed pipelines on the environment and should provide sufficient information to evaluate the relative merits of the proposed pipelines and alternatives. The permit-issuing bodies cannot make reasoned or informed decisions without this information. Nor can the general public.”

The proposed pipeline construction would take place north of the Winnebago Indian Reservation but would cross at the Missouri River, where the Tribe is downstream. “CO2 is deadly when inhaled, what happens when this pipeline fails? The pipeline construction path is placed on the ancestral lands of the Nebraska Tribes, what happens when they disturb our ancestors’ burial sites? There is just too much unknown for these pipelines, that’s why it’s important that this study be conducted. It’s our duty to protect mother earth,” said Winnebago Tribal Secretary, Lorelei DeCora.

The Winnebago Tribe sent the resolution and a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Woodbury County, and Dakota County Commissioners, with the documents officially filed with the Iowa Utility Board. The Council requested that each entity provide a response to the Tribe in writing.

Winnebago Tribal Chairwoman Victoria Kitcheyan added, “The Winnebago Tribe stands in solidarity with area farmers who oppose these pipelines and the use of eminent domain to acquire access to lands without landowner consent. The health, well-being, and rights of everyone is important to us all.”

The Sioux City Council voted unanimously to approve a local law that prohibits people from keeping animals in a vehicle or back of a parked truck when the temperature is above 79 degrees. Unless, the animal is inside an air-conditioned vehicle. The Sioux City Journal reports an official with animal control told the council animal cruelty cases have been thrown out in the past due to a difference of opinion with the courts on what is considered hot weather.

For more information click here: https://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/sioux-city-council-unanimously-approves-ordinance-that-prohibits-owners-from-leaving-pets-in-hot-vehicles/article_3fd63a68-62b2-5ae8-8629-35ab91eec387.html#tracking-source=home-top-story

This is the first day of summer and the continued hot, windy conditions are raising fears of flash droughts in Iowa and across the Midwest region.

The head of the U.S.D.A.’s Midwest Climate Hub located in Ames says we’ve been seeing elevated temperatures for a few weeks already and that heat may soon start impacting Iowa corn and soybeans.

The latest climate outlooks show warmer temperatures across Iowa and much of the Northern Plains into September. Experts say soil moisture is being depleted rapidly due to our recent hot and windy weather.

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