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NEWS 2.15.23

Former Vice President Mike Pence hosted an event in Cedar Rapids this afternoon focused on parental rights. Pence addressed the same topic this morning in Minneapolis.

Radio Iowa reports as Pence was speaking in Minnesota, a federal judge in St. Paul was hearing the lawsuit filed by a group of Iowa parents. They object to a Linn-Mar school district policy that lets students ask for a gender support plan at school without notifying parents.

Pence, who is expected to launch a 2024 presidential campaign soon, formed a group called Advancing American Freedom last year. According to Pence, it’s a response to parents who feel helpless in objecting to “radical left” policies in schools.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley who launched her presidential campaign this week is planning on visiting Iowa on Monday with events in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids area, according to USA Today.

The trip will make her the first declared 2024 presidential candidate to appear in Iowa. Iowa Republicans are still holding their first-in-the-nation caucuses in early 2024.

Republicans on an Iowa Senate panel advanced a bill yesterday that aims to limit property tax increases. They say it’s needed to simplify the property tax system and respond to Iowans’ concerns about rising local taxes.

City and county elected officials from across the state say the bill would limit their ability to provide key services like ambulances and law enforcement. And will prevent them from responding to the individual needs of their communities.

An Iowa Senate subcommittee advanced an omnibus bill Tuesday that includes portions of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ sweeping health care bill — but not her proposal to allow access to over-the-counter birth control.

The Sioux City Journal reports the proposal includes $2 million to pregnancy resource centers that counsel against abortion, and adds programming for fathers, additional funding for medical access to rural and underserved communities, and four weeks’ paid maternity leave for mothers and one week for fathers following a birth or adoption of a child.

Sherry Vinton has been confirmed as the director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, making her the first woman to head the agency. Vinton, of Whitman, is a fifth-generation rancher with a family operation in the Nebraska Sandhills. She was appointed as director by Gov. Jim Pillen last month and confirmed Wednesday by the Nebraska Legislature, replacing Steve Wellman, who held the post under former Gov. Pete Ricketts starting in 2017. Vinton has served on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Nebraska Environmental Trust board. Starting in 2019, Vinton served as vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau and served on its board for six years.

The former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party and current head of the Iowa Lottery announced he has cancer. Matt Strawn who has served as CEO since 2019 will start treatments this week for colon cancer. The Van Horne native tells KCCI Television in Des Moines that the cancer was detected at a stage where the goal for my treatment is a full cure. By coming forward with his diagnosis he hopes to raise awareness about changes in colorectal screenings. New guidelines that have lowered the recommended age to 45. Strawn is 49 years old.

Strawn statement to KCCI:

“Following a recommended screening in late January, I received a colorectal cancer diagnosis. While this is news that no one expects to hear, I am grateful to share that the cancer was detected at a stage where the goal for my treatment is a full cure. My outstanding medical team at the Iowa Clinic and the John Stoddard Cancer Center have recommended a course of treatment that will include chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, and my prognosis is excellent following this course of treatment. 

“As I prepare for the start of treatment this week, I feel incredibly blessed by the strong support that I have received from my family, friends, and colleagues, and from Gov. Reynolds. By sharing this personal news, I hope to raise awareness regarding the updated guidelines which have lowered the colorectal screening age to 45, and encourage all Iowans age 45 and older to schedule their colonoscopy screening today if they haven’t already done so.” 

Following a guilty plea for petty theft, Miss South Dakota USA remains suspended from the Miss USA organization.

The Argus Leader reports Shania Knutson, of Brookings, pleaded guilty to a first-degree petty theft earlier this week after being charged from stealing from a Walmart. Knutson was ordered to pay restitution along with court and fine fees.

Court documents state that Knutson committed repeat thefts at Walmart between October and December, stealing more than $550 worth of goods on 12 different occasions. She did compete at the national pageant but did not place.

A Winter Storm Warning is on the way for much of southern and eastern Iowa from Council Bluffs all the way to Dubuque. The warning kicks in tonight.

The National Weather Service tell Radio Iowa the snow will start falling in most areas late this afternoon and tonight and may continue well into Thursday. Just a small sliver of Siouxland to the south and east of Sioux City could see an inch of maybe two inches of snow. There is no snow in the forecast for the Sioux City metro area.

Six to 8 inches could fall in the south-central part of the state.

However, the snow isn’t expected to stick around long as warmer temperatures are on the way, with highs in the 40s and even some 50s by Sunday.

Forecasters say the approaching storm system is unpredictable and a wide section of the state could get as little as two inches of snow — or as much as ten. Keep up with the changing forecast at weather.gov.

Submitted news release:

Governor Reynolds, IEDA Announce $2 Million in Manufacturing 4.0 Funding

DES MOINES – Today, Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) announced that Iowa will be investing an additional $2 million in the Manufacturing 4.0 Technology Investment Program to enhance productivity, efficiency and competitiveness in Iowa’s largest industry. The program helps small- to mid-size Iowa manufacturers invest in the adoption and integration of smart technologies with grant funding made available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

“The Manufacturing 4.0 grant program is doing exactly what we intended – helping businesses grow and compete amid a rapidly changing landscape,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Manufacturers are using these grants to increase productivity, train workers, improve safety, and cut costs. We now have the opportunity to help more manufacturers invest in technology to support their workforce, promote competition, and ensure future growth.”

Iowa’s Manufacturing 4.0 initiative launched a strategic plan in January 2021 to ensure the state’s manufacturers continue to remain globally competitive through the fourth industrial revolution – Industry 4.0 – and its emphasis on automation and smart technology. As a result, the Manufacturing 4.0 Technology Investment Grant program was created. In the first cycle, IEDA granted over $7 million through 202 awards with project investments totaling over $31 million.

The program offers two grant opportunities to prioritize both the equipment and connectivity with the advanced technology for manufacturers with 3-150 employees.

  • The manufacturing innovation equipment grant awards up to $50,000 for the purchase of machinery and specialized equipment to improve operations.
  • The manufacturing industrial internet of things (IIoT) infrastructure investment grant awards up to $25,000 for the purchase of specialized hardware of software in Industry 4.0 technology groups.

Companies can apply for a combined amount of $75,000 between the two grants over the lifetime of the business and a 1:1 match is required. Prior to applying, manufacturers must complete an Industry 4.0 assessment provided by Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) to determine need and readiness.
Applications will open on March 1, 2023, and will be accepted on a rolling basis until funds are allocated. More information on the program can be found here.

Governor Pillen, Corrections Office Union Reach Labor Agreement

LINCOLN, NE – Today, Governor Jim Pillen and state leaders announced a labor contract agreement between the State of Nebraska and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). The FOP represents teammates within protective services classifications, including corrections officers at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) and safety and security specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

“Our people at our correctional facilities are great public servants who work tirelessly to help ensure public safety,” said Governor Pillen. “This agreement shows that Nebraska is dedicated to supporting our protective services men and women as they work every day to keep our state safe.”

Diane Sabatka-Rine, Director of the Department of Correctional Services, and the FOP also issued statements after reaching agreement on terms for a new labor contract.

“The bargaining agreements over the last several years have been instrumental in recruiting and retaining NDCS team members,” said Director Sabatka-Rine. “These efforts result in safer prisons and safer Nebraska communities.”

"With this new agreement we will continue to build on the success we have been experiencing within the Department of Correctional Services,” said FOP President Mike Chipman. “We have already hired more than 400 officers and hope this agreement continues that success."

This agreement includes 3% market adjustment compensation increases for FOP teammates in each of the next two years, as well as performance-based compensation increases for Security Communications Specialists, Security Guards, and Military Security Officers.

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