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NEWS 1.6.23: Iowa Congressional Delegation Reaction to the U.S. House Speaker Controversy, New Wastewater Treatment Plant for Sioux City, Warm January, and More

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Congress reached a historic fourth day of voting in U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy’s bid to be Speaker of the U.S. House.

U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson represents the northeast quarter of the state. and says McCarthy has her full support.

“I know Iowans are frustrated by the chaos and dysfunctioning Congress happening right now. I share that frustration. I am maddened watching what’s happening on the floor. Right now, I see that we are wasting time that Iowans don’t have, so our office is hard at work.”

Should McCarthy secure the speakership, Hinson says she’ll move to make the 2017 tax cuts permanent. Those cuts lowered the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21%, a 40% reduction, and reduced income taxes for most Americans.

Hinson made her comments Friday morning in her weekly press call.

Congressman Randy Feenstra, the Republican who represents the 4th Congressional District, issued a written statement on the impasse. “It’s time to get to work to pass a conservative agenda,” said Feenstra, who has been supporting California Congressman Kevin McCarthy for speaker. “The delays only help Democrats obstruct our efforts to rein in wasteful spending, balance the budget, and fix our broken economy.”

Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says the failure of House Republicans to elect a House Speaker could be sending the wrong message to foreign adversaries.

Ernst, who is part of the Senate’s GOP leadership team, tells Radio Iowa the situation in the House is frustrating but will be resolved.

Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, has not commented on the GOP stalemate over the speaker’s election in the House.

Plans are moving forward for a new wastewater treatment plant for Sioux City as the facility faces legal action.

A special meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 12th, at 6 p.m. at City Hall. The Sioux City Council is expected to hear from city staff and Hazen and Sawyer Consulting about the best way to move forward on the project.

A new release sent out by the city says the current facility is at capacity, with many processes in poor condition. Officials say it appears the best option would be to rebuild on the same site in the Singing Hills area of Sioux City to save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Last year, the Iowa DNR filed a lawsuit that could potentially add up to millions of dollars in penalties from the City of Sioux City for repeated violations at the wastewater facility. A spokesperson for the city says the action filed by the Iowa Attorney General is still pending.

News release from the City of Sioux City:

Comprehensive Facility Plan Presentation on January 12, 2023

After evaluating potential alternatives in a comprehensive Facility Plan (Plan) completed by Hazen and Sawyer Consulting, the City of Sioux City is recommending phased reconstruction of the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) as the most feasible and cost-effective option for addressing critical needs with the treatment infrastructure. City staff and its consultant will present the Plan findings to the City Council on Thursday, January 12 at 6:00 p.m. at a special meeting held in City Hall Council Chambers, 405 6th Street.

The WWTP is at capacity with many processes in poor condition and its operation is not sustainable in its current condition. The Plan analyzed the construction of a new facility at a new location or reconstruction at its existing site and found reconstruction the most feasible. City staff and its consultant determined that rebuilding the WWTP on site will save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars, while creating jobs and providing additional benefits for the local economy.

An upgraded WWTP will also support the transformation of the riverfront and enable Sioux City to stay in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state regulations.

“Modernizing the WWTP will allow the City to manage more wastewater, protect the environment, maintain compliance with all state and federal regulations, and allow greater opportunity for community growth and development,” said Sioux City Utilities Director Tom Pingel. “This generational project will support decades of community prosperity by ensuring both the necessary capacity and the safe and reliable performance of the wastewater treatment infrastructure.”

The Plan evaluated current and long-term needs for wastewater treatment for the City of Sioux City, its sister cities, and industrial and commercial dischargers. In addition, it

Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade

prioritized, evaluated, and identified cost-effective options for the City’s wastewater treatment capacity, operation, and sustainability needs over the next 30 years.

With completion of this project, the City intends to focus attention on the production of renewable fuels (biogas) and managing other beneficial projects rather than using excessive time and expense to maintain operations due to reliability issues. Included in the facility plan, the City will invest over $40 million in odor control for the WWTP and its pumping stations, ensuring the City is a responsible, odor-free neighbor to the surrounding nearby attractions, including Mercy Field, Cone Park, and other recreational spaces.

Funding sources for the project and the potential rate impacts on residential, commercial, and industrial customers are currently being evaluated.

Iowa's top election official is proposing a bill aimed at bringing more uniformity to recounts.

The proposal comes more than two years after a messy recount for the 2020 Mariannette Miller Meeks-Rita Hart congressional race, one of the closest House races in the country with a six-vote margin.

In the most recent midterm election, a lengthy Davenport House District recount showed an unusual swing in results and officials braced for a statewide recount after a close state auditor race.

A bill isn't yet filed with the Iowa Legislature, but in a news release on Thursday, the Iowa Secretary of State's office said the measure would standardize the recount timeline across Iowa's 99 counties, bolster recount boards in larger counties, and require more uniform methods for recounting, reconciling and reporting ballots.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced more than $9-million dollars in grants and loans for projects to bolster independent meat processing.

A meat locker being built in the northwest Iowa town Marcus has received an $800,000 loan for new construction. A cattle farm operation in the southwest Iowa town of Tabor got a $210,000 grant to expand production.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says these investments are a way to give more marketing opportunities to small and mid-size farming operations.

The two Iowa projects are among 25 across 15 states.

In a setback to Summit Carbon Solutions, an energy company on a tight schedule to build a $4.5 billion liquid carbon dioxide pipeline, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday at the request of affected landowners to move a April-May evidentiary hearing to September during a meeting in Pierre.

The PUC's 3-0 vote in favor of the landowners comes to the disappointment of Summit, as it would ultimately delay the time frame for the company to receive a permit to start construction on the project, according to the company. The pipeline would allow the company and partnered ethanol plants to benefit from federal tax credits outlined within the Inflation Reduction Act's clean energy provisions, but only if construction begins prior to a Jan. 1, 2025 deadline.Envir

Landowners opposed to the project, like Ed Fischbach of Spink County, are praising the outcome, since the initial hearing date would have made it difficult for them to attend the April-May hearings.

January is typically one of Iowa’s coldest months of the year, but forecasters say this January could be less frigid than in the past.

State climatologist Justin Glisan says new computer models being released by the Climate Prediction Center indicate Iowa could be starting off 2023 a bit balmier than usual. For more on the story from Radio Iowa click here.

Lottery players whose numbers didn't hit or who forgot to even buy a ticket will have another shot at a nearly $1 billion Mega Millions prize. The estimated $940 million jackpot up for grabs Friday night has been growing for more than two months and now ranks as the sixth-largest in U.S history. Even as the prize grows larger, the odds of winning remain the same: 1 in 302.6 million. The $940 million jackpot is for winners who choose an annuity, paid annually over 29 years. Winners usually want cash, which for Friday night’s drawing would be an estimated $483.5 million. Mega Millions is played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.