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NEWS 12.12.22: Winter Storm, Drought Continues, Another Opioid Settlement, Cone Park Opening, and More

National Weather Service

NEWSCAST UPDATE: Iowa’s so-called fetal heartbeat abortion law still can’t be enforced. That’s according to a Polk County District Court judge who issued a ruling in the case today.

Judge Celene Gogerty’s ruling means abortion is still legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Governor Kim Reynolds asked the court to remove the injunction on the law following Iowa Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court decisions that opened the door to more abortion restrictions. The Polk County District Court has denied Reynolds’ request.

Judge Gogerty says in her ruling that the state didn’t establish that she has the authority to dissolve the 2019 injunction and let the law take effect. Gogerty also writes the state failed to show there was a substantial change in law under the Iowa Constitution that would change the circumstances.

Statement released from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:

“I’m very disappointed in the ruling filed today by the district court, but regardless of the outcome, this case was always going to the Iowa Supreme Court. We will appeal this decision immediately. As the Iowa and US Supreme Courts have made clear, there is no fundamental right to an abortion. The decision of the people’s representatives to protect life should be honored, and I believe the court will ultimately do so. As long as I’m Governor, I will continue to fight for the sanctity of life and for the unborn.”

Bird flu has hit another northwest Iowa turkey flock.

The latest case of highly pathogenic avian influenza was found in an Ida County turkey facility.

A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Agriculture says 90-thousand turkeys are being destroyed. The birds have to be killed to control the spread of the virus.

This month in Iowa, the virus has been confirmed in just commercial turkey facilities. State officials announced seven cases in commercial sites. More than 400-thousand turkeys have died or been destroyed this month.

Iowa leads the nation in the number of commercial and backyard birds impacted by bird flu this year. About 15.8 million have died from the virus or been killed to contain it.

Snow, wind, and ice are predicted for parts of Siouxland tonight through tomorrow afternoon. The National Weather Service issued an ice warning for Osceola County in northwest Iowa, a Winter Weather Advisory for northeastern Siouxland, and a Winter Storm Watch for Holt County in Nebraska.

Meteorologists say to expect heavy mixed precipitation with the potential for up to three inches of snow and some ice, depending on the temperature. Rain is expected to fall in the Sioux City metro area. Check weather.govfor the latest forecast.

Dry conditions in Iowa have improved since the beginning of November but are still the worst in a decade heading into winter when there is little opportunity to increase soil moisture ahead of next year’s growing season. For the full story, check out the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Winter has the driest months, and the ground is often frozen. Also, drier soil freezes more easily.

Nearly three-quarters of the state is suffering from some degree of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The worst conditions are in northwest Iowa, where a pocket of extreme and exceptional drought expanded into parts of 18 counties and where the crop yields of some fields were the worst in the state, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

However, the state’s corn yield average is expected to surpass 200 bushels per acre, thanks to a wet spring and crop genetics.

Some lakes and ponds in northern Iowa already have ice thick enough to support ice fishing, while elsewhere, you can still see open water.

The chief of the Iowa DNR Fisheries Bureau tells Radio Iowa it’s early in the season and Iowans who love ice fishing have to be patient or head north.

The DNR recommends a minimum of four inches of clear ice for fishing and at least five inches for snowmobiles and ATVs. The DNR offers a weekly fishing report that’s online at: www.iowadnr.gov. With the forecast calling for snow in some parts of the region, officials say reading ice conditions could become more difficult.

Health providers are urging Iowans to take extra precautions ahead of the holiday season.

That’s as the state’s hospitals continue to see high numbers of children with respiratory virus infections.

Experts say Iowans should make sure all family members are vaccinated against COVID and the flu.

People are sick should contact their healthcare providers to potentially get antiviral medication, which works better if taken early on in an infection.

Iowa will receive more than 70 million dollars from drug store chains Walgreens and CVS over their roles in the opioid crisis.

State Attorney General Tom Miller announced today that he has finalized the agreement along with the other state attorneys general on the case.

Under the agreement, CVS and Walgreens will pay more than 10 billion dollars total nationwide.

Last month, the state announced it will receive nearly 20 million dollars from retailer Walmart over its role in the opioid crisis.

Miller says the money will be used to fund treatment and prevention programs for opioid use disorder.

The Minority Leader in the Iowa Senate says Democrats will do what they can to push back on the governor’s goal of sending more state tax dollars to private schools.

Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls tells Radio Iowa the plan is a threat to rural schools.

Last year, Governor Reynolds proposed giving the parents of 10,000 kids state scholarships to cover private school costs. During the campaign, Reynolds said her goal was to give “every parent” the choice of where their child attends school.

Wahls suggests a plan allowing tens of thousands of Iowa parents to get state money after enrolling their child in a private school would divert hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools.

The governor’s previous school choice plans have failed to pass the Republican-led House, but some GOP opponents were defeated in primaries and a number of new Republican members were elected to the House in November. The new legislative session starts on Monday, January 9th.

The only Democrat to win a statewide race this year says it’s time to give independent voters a voice in choosing General Election candidates. State Auditor Rob Sand supports open primaries and shared his thoughts with Radio Iowa.

The South Dakota State Patrol has identified the two people who died after a pickup truck collided with a train near Harrisburg. The Patrol said Sunday that Jennifer Torgerson, 45, and Kaylee Torgerson, 12, both died at the scene of the crash about a mile south of Harrisburg Wednesday evening. The truck’s driver, Philip Torgerson, 44, of Harrisburg, sustained life-threatening injuries and was flown by helicopter to a Sioux Falls hospital. Authorities have said Philip Torgerson was driving west, but didn’t yield at the railroad crossing and collided with the train. He could face charges, but the State Patrol is still investigating. The 43-year-old Iowa man operating the train wasn't hurt.

City of Sioux City