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NEWS 1.10.23: Gov. Noem Kicks Off South Dakota Legislative Session, Gov. Reynolds "Condition of the State" Tonight, Nebraska Fights Human Trafficking, and More

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South Dakota Public Broadcasting
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The 2023 South Dakota legislative session started today with Governor Kristi Noem's State of the State address in Pierre.

The Legislature will try and figure out what to do with the state's $423 million surplus. Governor Noem wants to use the money to repeal the state sales tax on groceries.

Lawmakers also could revive a $200 million plan to cover utility infrastructure for new housing developments. Other priorities include updating the state prison system. Noem has called for building a new women's prison in Rapid City and a new men's prison in Sioux Falls.

In Iowa, Democrats and progressives say polls show the top agenda items Republican lawmakers plan to pursue in the 2023 legislature are unpopular. The group, Progress Iowa, hosted "The People's Condition of the State" event at the Capitol in Des Moines this morning. For more on the story from Radio Iowa, click here.

The state of Nebraska is raising awareness of the issue of human trafficking. Governor Pillen signed a proclamation for Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Lincoln today.

The state created a task force to tackle the problem in 2007; nine years earlier, there had been four prosecutions. According to a report issued today, there have been 88 prosecutions during the past seven years.

A new hotline set up last fall receives an average of a dozen calls per month. The number to call is 833-PLS-LOOK.

The Sioux City Community School District's VIBE Academy will be no more starting in the fall. Due to the dwindling enrollment of students from kindergarten to 8th grade, the school board voted on Monday night to continue virtual education for high schoolers only through the district's Career Academy.

More than one million dollars of COVID-19 relief money went into preparing the space used for the VIBE Academy, strongly supported by former Superintendent Paul Gausman.

"We take the theory that we're going to be a big state sponsor of virtual education when other folks are years ahead of us and much more experienced. I think that was a fundamental mistake" said Board President Dan Greenwell.

Greenwell says it wasn't a waste to renovate the space because it can be used for future growth and other programs. The teachers with the VIBE Academy will return to teaching in person. Officials say there will be options for younger students who need online education due to health or social issues.

And an update on the process of choosing a new superintendent. Twenty-three people applied for the job, and the board plans to interview five candidates soon. Then two finalists will participate in community and staff interviews the week of January 23rd. Interim Superintendent Rod Earlywine only planned on filling the role for a year and is not in the running for the position.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that it reached an agreement with a pipeline operator to clean up a spill that dumped 14,000 bathtubs' worth of crude oil into a rural Kansas creek. The agency said in a news release that the Dec. 7 rupture of the Keystone pipeline affected 3 1/2 miles of a creek as it flows through rural pastureland in Washington County, about 150 miles northwest of Kansas City. The order requires TC Oil Pipeline Operations Inc. to recover oil and oil-contaminated soil and vegetation and contain the further spread of oil in the creek.

News release from U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley:

WASHINGTON –Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today hurt his hip and will have surgery this week. He is otherwise in good spirits and is expected to make a full recovery.

News release from the Sioux City Police Department:

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Sioux City Police Department
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Antonio Cobb
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Sioux City Police Department

After nearly three months of lottery losing, will someone finally break the trend and win a $1.1 billion Mega Millions jackpot? Regardless of how long it takes, the odds of winning the top lottery prize don't change, and they're formidable at 1 in 302.6 million. But someone will eventually match all six numbers and win the jackpot, which now ranks as the fifth-largest in U.S. history. The drawing is set for 11 p.m. EST Tuesday. The $1.1 billion prize is for a winner who chooses to be paid through an annuity over 29 years. Winners usually prefer cash, which would be an estimated $568.7 million.

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