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NEWS 1.25.23

Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen
Nebraska Public Media
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Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen delivered his first State of the State address in the state Capitol on Wednesday, spelling out plans to drastically cut taxes while increasing funding to state schools.

Pillen reiterated his plans announced earlier this month to increase K-12 public education funding by more than $2 billion over the next six years while cutting income and property taxes.

His proposed two-year budget would hold annual growth to just 1.3%, increasing spending by $164.6 million next fiscal year over the current year and keeping the budget nearly flat the following 2024-25 fiscal year, with a proposed $500,000 increase. Nebraska’s annual budget is about $4.5 billion.

A bill advancing in the Iowa House (HF 7) would ask the state’s three public universities to report to lawmakers with definitions for certain topics found in teacher training courses.

Many of the terms on the list tie into accusations from conservative activists that colleges promote a liberal worldview.

Among other things, the list mentions “anti-racist” and “anti-oppressive” teaching, “equitable teaching practices,” and “diversity” in education.

Democratic leaders say the bill is a “witch hunt.”

Republican Representative Skyler Wheeler of Hull denies that. He says taxpayers should know more about what teachers are taught at public universities.

The bill advanced to the House Education Committee.

Governor Kim Reynolds signed the school choice bill Tuesday, and it only specifies funding for public and private schools. But there is another type of schooling left out of the conversation: homeschooling.

The Executive Director of Homeschool Iowa tells WHO Television in Des Moines an estimated 5% of families in the state participate in some form of homeschooling; that’s a larger number than before the COVID-19 Pandemic. Currently, there is little state funding for homeschooling. There is a $500 tax credit available for some families. The organization has kept a neutral stance surrounding the Students First Act in Iowa since some parents want to keep a distant relationship with government.

To learn more about the specifics of homeschooling in the state, visit Homeschool Iowa’s website.

The public will get a chance to hear from the two finalists for Superintendent of the Sioux City Community School District later today.

A community forum at North High School will start for Interim Superintendent Dr. Rod Earleywine from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. and Dr. Geovanny Ponce (pawn-say) from 6:45 until 8. Dr. Ponce is the assistant superintendent of high schools for the Houston Independent School District in Texas. Dr. Earleywine previously served as a long-time administrator for Sergeant Bluff-Luton Community Schools.

The name of the next person to lead the Sioux City Community School District is expected to be announced tomorrow. The School Board is expected to meet during a private session tomorrow afternoon and then hold a public meeting to announce the finalist for the job. Former Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman left at the end of last school year to take a similar post with Lincoln Public Schools.

Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is the new leader of the Des Moines based foundation that awards the annual World Food Prize. Find out more on the story here from Radio Iowa.

The state is launching an advertising campaign targeting children, teens and parents to educate them about the deadly dangers of counterfeit pills and fentanyl.

State Medical Director Robert Kruse tells Radio Iowa the two-fold messaging is designed to reach children as young as five years old, middle and high schoolers, as well as adults.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 50 times stronger than heroin, and he says it only takes two milligrams of fentanyl to be deadly.

A report from the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services found 205 people died in Iowa last year from opioid overdoses.

“About 80% of all deaths involving opioids in Iowa involved an illicitly-manufactured narcotic like fentanyl,” he says, “and from 2019 to 2021, we’ve also seen individuals 24 years of age and younger experience a 289% increase in deaths involving illicitly-manufactured narcotics like fentanyl.”

Last October, HHS announced a program to provide the opioid reversal medication, Naloxone, in schools across Iowa so they can respond to students, staff, or visitors who may be having an opioid overdose.

COVID-19 hospitalizations and reported tests in Iowa are down for the third week in a row.

According to the federal department of health and human services, 154 Iowans hospitalized have tested positive for the virus as of today (Wednesday). That’s down from nearly 180 last week.

And Iowa health officials say more than 22 hundred positive tests were reported in the past seven days. Down slightly from last week.

State officials also confirmed 28 additional Iowans to have died from COVID. So far, 10,566 Iowans have died from the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 64 percent of all Iowans have completed their primary COVID vaccine series. While 18 percent have received the most recent bivalent booster.

A contractor died Monday at Adventureland, according to the owner of a company who had a crew working at the amusement park in Altoona.

The owner of Sky High Coasters, based in Illinois, told KCCI his son died in the accident. He would not provide further details. The local police department is still investigating the incident, according to KCCI Television in Des Moines.

News release from the SCCSD:

Wednesday, January 25

Community Forums with Final Superintendent Candidates

5:15 pm – 6:30 pm (Candidate A - Dr. Earleywine) and 6:45 pm – 8 pm (Dr. Ponce)

North High School

The public will have the opportunity to submit questions and hear from each finalist during separate community forums with each candidate.

News release from U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) issued the following statement after he was appointed by his Republican colleagues to serve on the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee for the 118th Congress.

“As the breadbasket to our country and the world, I am honored to continue serving Iowa’s hardworking farmers and producers on the House Agriculture Committee during the 118th Congress. When I ran for Congress, I promised to deliver real results for Iowa families, farmers, small businesses, and our rural main streets. Serving on both the Ways and Means Committee and the Agriculture Committee will allow me to do just that.

For far too long, out-of-control spending and out-of-touch attacks on rural America have threatened our economy, our livelihoods, and our rural way of life. In these influential positions, I will continue to effectively deliver for the 4th District, help pass a strong Farm Bill that benefits Iowa, defend our family farmers, stop China’s reckless farmland acquisitions, expand the production of homegrown Iowa ethanol and biodiesel, and hold the Biden Administration accountable for their destructive agenda.”

Feenstra was first appointed to the House Agriculture Committee in 2021 where he secured critical disaster relief following the devastating 2020 derecho and helped pass legislation to advance precision agriculture technologies in rural Iowa.

During the 117th Congress, Feenstra introduced the following legislation, which is a non-exhaustive list, to benefit Iowa agriculture:

  • The Precision Agriculture Loan Program Act, which would establish the first-even precision agriculture loan program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency to help farmers purchase precision agriculture technologies at low interest rates.
  • The Quantum in Practice Act, which would harness the power of quantum computing to lower input costs for Iowa farmers and streamline fertilizer production.
  • The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, which would ensure that Iowa’s independent cattle producers can compete on a fair playing field while simultaneously helping lower meat prices for families.
  • The Agriculture Foreign Investment Transparency Act, which would monitor foreign purchases of American farmland and prevent our foes from infiltrating our country through massive land acquisitions
  • The Year-Round Fuel Choice Act, which would allow E-15 and higher blends to be sold at fuel retailers all year long.

According to the USDA, Iowa’s 4th District is the largest crop growing district in the country, number one in pork production, second in overall agriculture production, and third largest in livestock, poultry, and products.

Submitted news release from Seaboard Triumph Foods:

(Seaboard Triumph Foods is a sponsor of Siouxland Public Media.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sioux City, Iowa - Seaboard Triumph Foods (STF) has committed to donate over 33,000 pounds

of pork to the Gospel Mission Food Pantry to aid the Siouxland community this winter.

With palettes stacked high of ribs, pork roasts, and half loins, volunteers were eager to get to

work unloading the pork and stocking their freezer, bracing the negative zero-degree

temperatures during the delivery.

"We at The Gospel Mission are very blessed by the generosity of Seaboard Triumph Foods

and are glad to have a partnership with them. By them donating all this meat it helps us serve

our community as well as helping us accomplish one of our missions which is to "Feed the

hungry," said Nate Gates, Assistant Executive Director of The Gospel Mission.

“Our STF in Siouxland initiative has a strong focus on providing support to those who are

food insecure in our community,” said Deanna Wiedner, Vice President of Human

Resources at STF.

Located in west Sioux City, Iowa, the Gospel Mission staff and volunteers cook three meals a

day, every day, for shelter residents and guests in need of a meal, in addition to providing

groceries to food-insecure individuals in the community.

Whether visitors are in need of food once a week or every day, all are welcome at the Gospel

Mission.

To learn more about the Gospel Mission or to support their “Feed the Hungry” program, visit:

https://thegospelmission.org/services/feed-the-hungry

About Seaboard Triumph Foods (STF)

Located in the Bridgeport Industrial Park in Sioux City, Iowa, and established on September 5,

2017, Seaboard Triumph Foods (STF) is a joint venture between Seaboard Foods, of the Kansas

City Metro area and Triumph Foods, of St. Joseph, Missouri.

STF is a proud producer of Prairie Fresh® pork products, and employs over 2,400 Siouxland

residents. Built on safety, quality, diversity, community, and sustainability, STF’s vision is to

create a place where we all belong, working as one, to build our future. Learn more at

www.siouxcitypork.com

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