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Newscast 11.23.22: Railroad strike once again looming; Iowa receives more than 46 million in opioid settlement funds

Opioids in Iowa
University of Iowa Opioids Ideas Lab
University of Iowa Opioids Ideas Lab
Opioids in Iowa

A railroad strike is once again possible in the United States. Iowa State University economist Peter Orazem says if there is a railroad strike next month, it could affect the supply of fuel for power plants. Orazem tells radio Iowa that Just over a third of Iowa’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. Heating oil also comes by rail.

BNSF Railway
BNSF Railway

Eight unions recently ratified a five-year contract for workers on America’s freight rail system. However, unions representing about 60-thousand railroad workers have rejected the deal. A strike could happen as soon as December 5th, but some of the railroad worker unions have said they’d agree to continue contract talks rather than strike. Railroad workers have been seeking higher pay, but getting additional, guaranteed time off has been a big priority. Orazem says railroads are dealing with the same workforce pinch as other industries.

Iowa will receive $42.6 million in multi-state settlements with two opioid manufacturers, Attorney General Tom Miller announced Tuesday.
The settlements were reached with Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan. The companies will provide up to $6.6 billion to several states and require the drug manufacturers to alter their practices and become more transparent.

The lawsuits accused both companies of engaging in misleading marketing on opioids. The states alleged Teva failed to properly monitor suspicious orders, and Allergan did not put in place effective measures to prevent the diversion of opioids. Teva has agreed to stop promoting opioids; not fund third parties for promoting opioids; not lobby on measures related to opioids among other measures.

The University of Iowa is participating in a vaccine trial that’s testing out an RSV vaccine from Pfizer in people 60 or older, according to Radio Iowa, according to Radio Iowa.
The hope is to find protection against the virus which has seen cases increase in the last several weeks.
The latest numbers from the state show 938 positive RSV cases, that’s up from 810 the week prior.
RSV can be dangerous, especially for young babies and the elderly. Pfizer is also testing an RSV vaccine in pregnant women with a goal of having the antibodies pass along to newborns.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Christian student organization have agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging the group was denied funding to bring a speaker to campus, the Omaha World Herald reports. As part of the agreement, the NU Board of Regents will consider revising a policy governing how mandatory fees are allocated to student groups that was last updated more than four decades ago when it meets on Dec. 2.

The change was spurred by Ratio Christi — a Latin phrase that translate to “the reason for Christ” — which alleged in an October 2021 lawsuit that UNL’s Fee Allocation Committee improperly denied its request for $1,500 to bring a speaker to campus.

Nebraska nursing students are eligible for $2,500 scholarships per semester thanks to a $5 million grant awarded through the American Rescue Plan Act to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Upon completion of a qualified nursing program, scholarship recipients will be required to practice nursing in Nebraska for a minimum of two years.

Any Nebraska resident enrolled or intending to enroll in a Nebraska Certified Nursing Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse, or accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is eligible to apply.

Qualified applicants will receive scholarships on a first-come, first-served basis each semester until their nursing program is complete or the ARPA funds run out.

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