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NEWS 6.23.22: Democratic Caucus Fight, Iowa Abortion Update, ISU Suspends Men's Club Hockey Team, and More

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Iowa Democrats made their case to their national party to keep the Iowa caucuses in the early presidential nominating calendar.

The DNC committee that sets the calendar asked states to apply for a slot in the early window. They heard presentations from the 16 states and Puerto Rico, including Iowa in Washington, D.C. last night and today.

Iowa has had the first-in-the-nation caucuses for 50 years, but now the national party says it might be time to try something new.

The Democratic National Committee has made clear they prefer primary elections to caucuses.

Scott Brennan, who serves on this national committee, was part of the group that made Iowa’s case. He told his colleagues on the committee that the four current early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina should stay in place.

“Starting this process in Iowa has resulted in our democratic nominee winning the popular vote in the last four presidential elections. Why would we mess with success?”

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst and state party chair Ross Wilburn were also there to make Iowa’s case in Washington, D.C.

They made a plea to stay in the lead in the 15 minutes they presented their case to save the early Iowa Caucuses. They promised to revamp the old system. Plus, they showed evidence that Iowa is diverse, fighting a longtime criticism the state is too white.

Konfrst told national party leaders Iowa election data still shows about one-third of registered voters are Republicans, a third are Democrats and a third are independents.

A final decision on the calendar is expected in August. Meanwhile, national Republicans are moving forward with the traditional early states in 2024.

The Iowa attorney general’s office says a state Supreme Court decision that requires a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion won’t take effect until next month, but the state's main abortion provider says it will immediately require the waiting period. A spokesman for the Iowa attorney general’s office says last week’s ruling would not take effect until the case has been returned to the lower court judge for further action, likely around July 8. After the ruling, Planned Parenthood North Central States officials had said the organization would immediately implement the waiting period.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem got an emphatic victory when the Senate removed Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg from office by convicting him of impeachment for killing a pedestrian with his car. Noem pressed impeachment through the Republican-controlled Legislature. She provided crucial support on an effort that at times faced razor-thin vote margins. Though her aggressive approach riled some lawmakers, Ravnsborg’s ouster provides Noem with some key benefits. She can name his replacement, discredit a one-time adversary who had investigated her and claims political independence because she held a fellow Republican accountable.

American Airlines has announced its service at the Dubuque Regional Airport will end on September 7th.

American Airlines cites a national pilot shortage in making the decision.

The director of the Dubuque Regional Airport tells Radio Iowa the airport will not close, as it’s used by private and corporate jets as well as general aviation. Dubuque, like other airports, will seek a replacement for American Airlines.

SkyWest announced plans in March to pull its service out of airports in Fort Dodge, Mason City, and Sioux City due to staffing shortages. SkyWest has been ordered by the federal government to continue flights in and out of those three airports until replacement commercial carriers can be found.

Iowa State University is suspending its men’s hockey club from competition next year in response to allegations of hazing.

A university investigation found that the club held events going back to at least 2018 where new members were required to drink alcohol. At other times they were targeted for what the report called personal humiliation.

Hockey club members at ISU will be required to go through anti-hazing and alcohol abuse training. The club will also be restructured as a student-led club.

Iowa’s showcase of sports history will soon shut its doors for good and move online only.

The Iowa Hall of Pride, which is located within the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, is closing on June 30. WHO-TV in Des Moines Reports, the Iowa High School Athletics Association will move elements of the museum such as interviews to a new website called “Achieve.”

The IHSAA cited low museum attendance after the pandemic as the main reason for the closure. The organization claims the post-2020 visitor numbers made it financially impossible to maintain the physical museum and its technology.

The Iowa Events Center has not determined what will fill the space soon to be vacated by the Hall of Pride.

Survey numbers from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources show hunters bagged around 375,000 pheasants this year.

Wildlife experts tell Radio Iowa that’s around a 25% increase over last year.

The DNR’s August roadside survey showed bird numbers up in the northern third of the state and across the central portion. However, tough winter conditions dropped bird numbers in the south.

While bird numbers have trended up the last couple of years, officials say habitat and weather remain the key factors that determine if the trend will continue.

The DNR will conduct its roadside pheasant survey again in August. Weather conditions this spring have been good for nesting and numbers are expected to stay strong.

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