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NEWS 9.19.22: Opioid Help, Senator Rounds on Abortion, Plymouth County Burn Ban, and More

Iowa Attorney General's Office

Story added 5:04 p.m. on September 19, 2022:

A former campaign staffer stated in a police report that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken kissed her without her permission in March. Franken denies it, and prosecutors declined to file charges.

Republican-aligned website Iowa Field Report first reported on the police document Monday.

According to the police report, the staffer worked for Franken during two of his campaigns and was fired earlier this year. She told police he asked to meet with her in March and asked her to re-join the campaign. After the meeting, she told police Franken, quote, “grabbed the collar of the vest she was wearing and kissed her on the mouth.”

A spokesperson for Franken’s campaign says the allegations are false, and that law enforcement closed the case as unfounded. The incident report states prosecutors determined, quote, “there was insufficient information and evidence to pursue a criminal investigation.”

The attorney general’s office has launched a new website with the goal of connecting Iowans with services to treat opioid addiction.

258 Iowans died of opioid overdoses last year, according to state data.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says the new website will direct Iowans to resources in their area. And will educate the public about opioid addiction in general.

Miller says Iowa expects to receive more than $170 million from settlements with opioid manufacturers in the next 18 years.

Addiction resources can now be found here.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts honored recipients of the 2022 Governor’s Wellness Awards. They were established to recognize employers who dedicate leadership, resources, and time to wellness efforts in the workplace. No Siouxland area organizations received an honor.

At a regularly scheduled meeting tonight, the North Sioux City Council will discuss a plan to build a canal onto McCook Lake. Resident Mike Chicoine wants to construct an estimated 1,500-foot-long, 90-foot-wide canal at the southeast end of the lake.

In late August, Chicoine told Siouxland News that "the installation of a canal would benefit the lake, create more habitat for the fish and increase the shoreline."

But that plan has come under fire from townspeople and city officials who say it could put additional strain on what's considered to be a drought-stressed body of water.

A burn ban will start for Plymouth County tomorrow at noon. The State Fire Marshal says conditions are such that open burning would be "dangerous to life and property." A ban already exhists for Sioux County.

One tri-state area U.S. senator disagrees with a top Republican colleague in Congress on the subject of abortion rights.

U.S. Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota was asked about the issue on a CNN political talk show over the weekend.

Mike Round updated sound.mp3

The Supreme Court ruled in mid-June that abortion was not constitutional, therefore giving states the power to legislate abortion instead.

In South Dakota, that decision meant a 2005 trigger law went into full effect, banning all abortions, even in the case of rape and incest.

Nebraska’s general election ballot has been finalized, and voters will find two initiatives this year.

Early ballots will go out starting on October 3rd.

Initiative Measure 432, the Voter ID Constitutional Amendment, will let voters decide on voter ID requirements.

Initiative Measure 433, the Minimum Wage Initiative, will let voters decide on a minimum wage increase.

The Iowa State athletic department has announced plans to build a retail, office, and entertainment space called “CYTown” between Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum. The development will sit on a three-acre site north of the stadium. The initial phase of the $200 million project includes a public plaza and amphitheater that can be used on game days or for concerts and other events. The athletic department said most of the funds for CYTown construction will come from land monetization opportunities. No target date for completion was announced.

A week after Nebraska fired head coach Scott Frost, the team’s defensive coordinator is out. Interim head coach Mickey Joseph said Sunday that defensive coordinator Erik Chinander was fired a day after Nebraska gave up 580 yards and 49 points in a lopsided loss to No. 6 Oklahoma. Chinander had led Nebraska’s defense since Frost took over the team in 2018, but his unit floundered this year as the Cornhuskers fell to 1-3. A week before the 49-14 loss to Oklahoma, Nebraska gave up 642 yards in a 45-42 upset by Georgia Southern that preceded Frost’s firing. Special teams coordinator Bill Busch was promoted to defensive coordinator.

News release from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller:

IowaOpioidHelp.com provides resources for Iowans with Opioid Use Disorder

Website offers direct help to Iowans in finding effective treatment

DES MOINES — Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller unveiled today a website dedicated to providing Iowans with a path to recovery from Opioid Use Disorder. IowaOpioidHelp.com directs Iowans to treatment centers and other resources across the state.

“Most people do not realize that addiction to opioids is treatable and that Iowans suffering from Opioid Use Disorder can successfully regain control of their lives,” Miller said. “There is help and hope available right now.”

Last year, 258 Iowans died from opioid overdoses, a 21.2% increase from 2020. First Responders are using more and more doses of naloxone to counteract overdoses, keeping the death toll from worsening.

“Iowa has a huge unmet demand for treatment for people suffering from Opioid Use Disorder,” Miller said. “For Iowans struggling with this disease, let me be clear: Treatment works, and there’s no better time than now to get help.”

Miller said his office saw a need to show Iowans where to find treatment.

“For many years, our office has worked to hold those responsible for the opioid crisis accountable,” Miller said. “Resources are now beginning to flow into the state from the many hard fought settlements we’ve won.”

Over the course of 18 years, Iowa expects to receive $177.74 million from settlementswith opioid maker Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors: Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen. That amount will be split evenly between the state and counties and cities.

Last year, the Iowa Attorney General’s office signed an agreement with University of Iowa Health Care to develop a comprehensive, statewide opioid treatment program using $3.8 million in settlement funds.

“With the launch of IowaOpioidHelp.com, we take another step toward ending this epidemic,” Miller said.

IowaOpioidHelp.com provides a pathway to recovery for Iowans with Opioid Use Disorder and their loved ones. Visitors to the website will learn about Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT), a proven method of using FDA-approved drugs to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms for people with Opioid Use Disorder.

For those seeking to learn more about Opioid Use Disorder and MAT: Dr. Alison Lynch, clinical professor of psychiatry and director of the Opioid Addiction Clinic at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, provides answers on IowaOpioidHelp.com to many commonly asked questions.

For those seeking help: An interactive map at IowaOpioidHelp.com shows a list of MAT and OUD clinics contracted with the State of Iowa. The Integrated Provider Network (IPN) is funded by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

“Our office is dedicated to helping Iowans who suffer from Opioid Use Disorder. You are not alone. Take advantage of these resources today,” Miller said.

A video of today's press conference announcing the launch of IowaOpioidHelp.com can be found here.

News release from Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts:

LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced this year’s recipients of the Governor’s Wellness Award. Steffany Lien, Miss Nebraska 2022, joined the Governor and DHHS to congratulate the award recipients and highlight the importance of workplace wellness. Five Nebraska organizations are being honored for offering evidence-based worksite wellness programs.

“The Governor’s Wellness Award recognizes employers who have built a culture of wellness in their workplace,” said Gov. Ricketts. “I commend this year’s winners for investing in the physical and mental health of their teammates. An organization’s people are its greatest assets. It makes smart business sense for companies to encourage good nutrition and healthy lifestyles through workplace programs.”

In the past year, award recipients have offered stress-reducing activities like yoga, hosted blood drives, created a school health index, planned community events to promote exercise, and provided free health assessment screenings for teammates.

The Governor’s Wellness Award began in 2008, making this the 15th year it has recognized organizations that dedicate resources and time to wellness efforts in the workplace. Each applicant must provide information in the areas of leadership, data collection, intervention strategies, policy/environment support, and evaluation of outcomes.

The Governor’s Wellness Award has three categories:

  • The Sower Award recognizes workplaces that have established quality wellness programs.
  • The Grower Award honors businesses and organizations demonstrating significant improvement in employee health behaviors.
  • The Harvester Award recognizes employers that are experiencing documented value and return on investment from their wellness initiatives.

The 2022 Governor’s Wellness Award winners are:

  • Associated Staffing (Grand Island) – Sower Award
  • Grand Island Northwest Public Schools – Sower Award
  • Nebraska Methodist College (Omaha) – Grower Award
  • ESU #2 (Fremont) – Grower Award
  • University of Nebraska Foundation (Lincoln) – Harvester Award

Including this year’s winners, 490 total awards have been distributed across the state since the Governor’s Wellness Award program began.
Nebraska employers can learn more about the Governor’s Wellness Award online by clicking here. Awards are presented annually and are good for three years at which time reapplication is encouraged.

The Governor’s Wellness Award is sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and administered by the Panhandle Worksite Wellness Council, part of Panhandle Public Health District. For employers interested in starting a wellness program, or enhancing an existing one, contact Nicole Berosek at 308-279-3496 or nberosek@pphd.org.

Watch video of this year’s wellness award ceremony by clicking here.