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NEWS 1.16.23

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Officials with the Sioux City Community School District say they can’t comment on a lawsuit filed by former Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman against four board members and the district.

The civil case accuses the district and Board President Dan Greenwell and members Taylor Goodvin, Jan George, and Bob Michaelson of violating Iowa’s open meetings laws. Gausman is asking the court to remove them from office.

The lawsuit claims the board met in closed session two times last year to discuss Gausman’s qualifications, to propose a complaint against him to the Iowa Board of Education, and to discuss allegations the school leader tried to bribe board members to keep Perla Alarcon Flory as board president. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and attorney’s fees, as well as voiding a complaint filed against Gausman, who left the district last year for a new post with Lincoln Community Schools.

Republicans in the Iowa House have unveiled a list of 13 priority bills, including one that forbids classroom instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through the third grade. Another would require schools to notify a parent if a student asks to be identified by a different gender when they’re at school.

House Speaker Pat Grassley says the bill specifies that school employees cannot facilitate, encourage or coerce students to withhold that kind of information from parents.

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says these bills are “mean-spirited attacks” on LGBTQ teenagers and adults.

Another bill on the House GOP agenda would require schools to provide parents with details about coursework, including what books and other materials will be used. It’s similar to legislation the House passed in 2022. Thirty-one of the 64 House Republicans have also filed a bill that would require social studies classes in all of Iowa’s public and private schools to teach that communism conflicts with freedom and democracy.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says she’ll file a bill to combine the state’s 37 agencies into just 16. She says it’ll help Iowans have a better experience interacting with state government.

The Reynolds administration hired a consultant for about a million dollars, who identified more than $200 dollars in potential savings over four years. Five hundred vacant positions would be eliminated, but Reynolds’ staff says there would be no layoffs.

Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls says any government reorganization should be done carefully and not rushed.

Republican leaders say they’re open to a realignment of state government.

Iowa lawmakers could soon work on Republicans’ latest effort to reinstate the death penalty in Iowa.

State Sen. Brad Zaun has reintroduced a bill into the Senate Judiciary Committee that could bring back the death penalty in Iowa “for murder in the first degree” when it “involve kidnapping and sexual abuse offenses against” a minor.

Currently, the penalty for the rape and kidnapping of a minor and the rape, kidnapping and murder of a minor is the same. Both crimes bring a life sentence in prison upon conviction.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports A similar bill was introduced in 2019 and 2021, but did not reach the floor for a vote. Capital punishment has not been used in Iowa since it was abolished in the state in 1965 by Gov. Harold Hughes. Legislation to reinstate capital punishment has not been debated on the floor of either chamber since 1995.

Marty Ryan, president of Iowans Against the Death Penalty, disagrees that this bill would deter perpetrators more than the current statutes. He said perpetrators don’t think they’re going to get caught in the first place, so the deterrence of the death penalty will be null.

Even though the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Nebraska continues to fall, health officials in the state urge people to get the latest booster. There were almost 1,500 cases in Nebraska for the week ending on January 11th. That was similar to the week before. That is down from a peak of about 3,600 in early December. The new subvariant dominant on the east coast is gaining traction in Nebraska.

People in Sioux City will have a chance to trout fish this winter and early spring. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources stocked about 1,500 rainbow trout into Bacon Creek over the weekend. It’s all part of the state’s efforts to give anglers a chance to trout fish closer to home. Some other cities taking part in the program are Council Bluffs and Mason City.

The leader of the Clay County Fair in Spencer is the next leader of the Iowa State Fair.

Radio Iowa Report Jeremy Parsons will take over in early March to replace Gary Slater, who announced in October that he was retiring after leading the State Fair since 2001. Parsons

has been the CEO of the Clay County Fair in Spencer since 2011.

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