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NEWS 10.10.22: Early Voting Concerns in Woodbury County, Candidate Updates, Food Help for Iowa Youth, and More

Woodbury County Auditor and Election Commissioner Pat Gill
Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer
Woodbury County Auditor and Election Commissioner Pat Gill

Woodbury County’s top election official is concerned about falling absentee ballot requests just a week ahead of early voting in Iowa.

INTERVIEW: Woodbury County Auditor and Election Commissioner Pat Gill
Woodbury County Auditor and Election Commissioner Pat Gill

Woodbury County Auditor and Election Commissioner Pat Gill says only 3,500 requests have come into his office. That is less than half of previous midterm elections. Gill worries about laws that changed the timeline for early voting.

"It went from 40 days to 20 days, it was 29 days in 2020. Now it is 20 days. So that period of time that people can vote early in person is really compressed. Also, we aren't allowed to send out absentee ballots until October 19."

Gill urges people to vote early since absentee ballots must arrive before the polls close on Election Day. The last day to request an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. on October 24th.

"And we want people to consider doing that. Because we don't want chaos at the polls, we want people to be able to go ahead and make sure that they cast their ballot in the proper way and that it gets counted."

The Woodbury County Auditor's Office is sending out a letter to registered voters alerting them of their polling places due to redistricting.

Gill plans to open up the Long Lines Recreation Center for all early voting days, including Saturdays and Sundays.

Gill has held his elected position for 25 years and tells Siouxland Public Media he plans to run again in two years.

The two candidates running to be Iowa's attorney general for the next four years agree that drugs are bringing misfortune to many Iowans, but they offer different views on how to address the problem.

Republican candidate Brenna Bird says President Biden should secure the southern border to stop the flow of illegal drugs like meth and fentanyl.

Democrat Tom Miller says one reason he's seeking an 11th term as attorney general is to finish work on the national settlement with opioid makers.

The candidates made their comments during a debate on KCCI in Des Moines.

A jury has awarded the Republican candidate for state auditor $1 million in his wrongful termination lawsuit against the State of Iowa.

Todd Halbur was hired to oversee the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division in 2015 and fired in mid-2018. Halbur says he was demoted, then fired for being a whistleblower about prices on some products that were higher than allowed by law.
Radio Iowa reports the state could appeal the jury's verdict. Last year, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned a $1.5 million jury award to the state's former workers compensation commissioner.

Halbur is a small businessman and realtor from Clive. Halbur defeated a state lawmaker from western Iowa to win the G-O-P's nomination for state auditor, but he's raised little money for his race. State Auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat, is running for a second term.

Many political watchers expected Gov. Kristi Noem to cruise to reelection this year in Republican-dominated South Dakota against a Democratic challenger without statewide experience. But, Noem's frequent out-of-state travels on behalf of GOP candidates, as well as recent ethics stumbles, have given Democrats license to dream of an upset. Or perhaps make Noem's race against state lawmaker Jamie Smith close enough to raise questions about her viability on the national stage. Smith has cast himself as a moderate and so far, has run a mostly upbeat campaign. The governor recently came out with an ad that tied Smith to President Joe Biden, who won 36% of South Dakota's vote in 2020.

The third largest railroad union rejected its deal with the railroads Monday — renewing the possibility of a strike that could cripple the economy — but before that could happen both sides will return to the bargaining table.

About 56% of the track maintenance workers represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division union who voted opposed the five-year contract even though it included 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses. Union President Tony Cardwell said the railroads didn't do enough to address worker concerns about the lack of paid time off — particularly sick time — and demanding working conditions after the major railroads eliminated nearly one-third of their jobs over the past six years.

A group linked to the Kremlin has claimed credit for the online attacks, which did not affect flights or air traffic control but took down the websites of airports in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, as well as Des Moines.

FLYDSM.com was down for a couple of hours but has been restored. The website lets travelers check flight departures and arrivals in Des Moines, information that is available separately through each airline's website. Sioux City’s airport site flysux.com.

A recent report has found the average rate of family premiums for health insurance offered by private employers has increased significantly in Iowa.

The annual report is by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center or SHADAC at the University of Minnesota. It found the average premium rate for Iowa families jumped by about nine percent from 2020 to 2021.

That's significantly above the national average increase of three percent.

According to the report, about 87 percent or 1.2 million Iowans who work in the private sector were offered insurance by their employer last year.

More federal money is coming to help feed hungry kids in Iowa.

Additional benefits are being made available through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer food assistance programs, according to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

Families will get $391 per eligible child under the age of six who received SNAP benefits during June, July, and August of 2022. Those benefits will be issued between October 11-20 and be added to the family's SNAP-EBT card.

Iowa kids getting more pandemic emergency food assistance benefits

A northwest Iowa dairy farm has agreed to pay $10,000 for a manure leak in March that spanned several days, polluted a creek and killed an unknown number of fish, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports the leak was first noted by workers at Black Soil Dairy near Granville in March, but they didn't realize that it was flowing into a nearby creek. Instead, they incorrectly believed it was going into a drain that led to manure storage.

Iowa State University is planning a year-long tribute to Jack Trice, the university's first black athlete, who died in Ames on October 8th, 1923 from injuries he suffered two days earlier in a football game.

The Cyclone's football stadium is named in honor of Trice and officials say the street outside will be too.

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of Trice’s death will include all aspects of his life. For more information, check out the website jacktrice100.com.