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NEWS 12.13.22: Siouxland Dodges Blizzard, Democratic Priorities for Iowa Lawmakers, Opioid Crisis Fight, Land Value Increase, and More

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls Office

Numerous roadways in the western parts of Nebraska and South Dakota are closed today as a winter storm brought blizzard conditions to the area.

A blizzard warning remains in effect for both areas, with many spots getting at least 6 inches of snow, with much higher amounts possible.

Northeastern Siouxland experienced Ice Warnings this morning with numerous school delays.

News release from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds involving TikTok:

DES MOINES -- Today, Governor Kim Reynolds issued a directive to the Iowa Department of Management’s Office of the Chief Information Officer to ban TikTok on all state-owned devices and prohibit state agencies from subscribing to or owning a TikTok account.

“It is clear that TikTok represents a national security risk to our country and I refuse to subject the citizens of Iowa to that risk,” said Gov. Reynolds. “They trust us with their personal and confidential information and we will take every step possible to protect it, including from the Chinese government. The safety of Iowans is my number one priority and that includes their cybersecurity."

Governor Reynolds’ directive joins several other governors across the United States that have also banned the use of TikTok on any state-owned devices due to security concerns with the Chinese-owned social media platform.

The Governor’s directive goes into effect immediately.

Planned Parenthood says Iowa has seen an increase in out-of-state patients seeking abortions.

Planned Parenthood reports its clinics in Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota have seen a 13 percent increase in patients coming from out of state.

Abortion remains legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. That’s following a Polk County District Court judge’s decision this week denying Gov. Kim Reynolds’ request to revive an Iowa law that would ban abortion as early as six weeks.

Reynolds says she plans to appeal the ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court.

The top Democrat in the Iowa House of Representatives says House Democrats will continue to pursue four key priorities they laid out ahead of the election.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst says lowering costs for Iowans, investing in public schools, fighting attempts to restrict abortion, and legalizing marijuana are top priorities for the next legislative session.

Democrats still lost seats in the November election. They used to hold 40 of the 100 House seats, but they’ll have 36 seats in the next legislative session. Konfrst says she thinks Iowa Democrats need to make sure voters understand they’re not the same as DC Democrats.

Legislation co-sponsored by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley that targets opioid overdoses, with a focus on rural areas, is headed to President Biden’s desk after winning final Congressional approval last week.

Grassley, a Republican, says the bill is the result of bipartisan cooperation in both chambers to tackle a national problem.

Counterfeit prescription pills laced with deadly fentanyl are contributing to historic drug overdose deaths in the U.S., Grassley says, including here in Iowa.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, over 80% of the overdose deaths in Iowa last year were fentanyl-related. A state report shows 470 lives were lost to drug overdoses in Iowa last year, while among Iowans age 25 and younger, overdose deaths have surged 120% in recent years.

Six Iowa Republican county parties have voted to censure U.S. Senator Joni Ernst for her vote in favor of the marriage equality legislation, which was signed by President Joe Biden today. Check out the Iowa Capital Dispatch for more information.

A report from the State Auditor has found the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division wasn’t reviewing payroll journals before forwarding time sheets to the agency that pays state employees.

The payroll records were being submitted to a manager, but according to the state auditor’s report no one in the Alcoholic Beverages Division was reviewing the time sheets or signing off on them. Radio Iowa reports the auditor’s report suggests that could let employee “errors or dishonesty” about their payroll journals slip through.

State Auditor Rob Sand’s Republican opponent, Todd Halbur, was fired as the Comptroller of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division in 2018. This fall, a jury awarded Halbur a million dollars after he sued for wrongful termination and retaliation after he raised concerns about liquor charges.

The annual Iowa State University survey released this week finds the average price of an acre of farmland set a record again at more than $11,400 dollars.

This increase represents a 17 percent growth over the past year. Last year Iowa farmland values rose 29 percent, and that’s something we haven’t seen since the 1980s.

All 99 counties rose 10 percent or more, so it all rose between 10% to about 22%.

Support Siouxland Soldiers is holding a holiday event tonight at the Long Lines Rec Center in Sioux City for veterans and military families. Holiday for Our Heroes starts at 5 p.m. and includes dinner, gifts, and Santa.

Support Siouxland Soldiers