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NEWS 3.14.23

State of Iowa

South Dakota lawmakers are taking a break in the legislative session until they return later in March to consider any bills Republican Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed. Republican legislative leaders were focused on cutting taxes when the session began in January. A few months later, they can declare victory on that topic, as they passed the biggest tax break in state history. Their record was more mixed on other topics, ranging from restricting gender-affirming care for transgender people to limiting foreign ownership of farmland.

Nebraska lawmakers advanced a bill Monday aimed at giving parents a bigger say in what schools can teach their children, while a more controversial measure on the same subject remains waiting in the wings.

The measure would require that public schools disclose instructional materials to parents and allow parents to request that their child be excused from certain lessons or activities.

Another bill called the Parents’ Bill of Rights and Academic Transparency Act would give parents access to review all learning materials their school uses, and give parents an opportunity to object and withdraw their students from lessons or activities in which materials are used that conflict with the “parent’s firmly held beliefs, values, or principles.”

Former President Donald Trump says a likely challenger for the G-O-P’s 2024 presidential nomination will not support the ethanol industry. Trump points to the bill Florida Governor Ron DeSantis co-sponsored when he represented Florida in Congress, a bill to get rid of the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Trump has pledged to promote the ethanol industry if he’s reelected and he’s suggesting DeSantis would get rid of the federal ethanol production mandate and the requirement that ethanol be blended into gasoline.

Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz tangled over the ethanol issue in the weeks leading up the 2016 Iowa Caucuses,

DeSantis was in Davenport and Des Moines last Friday and he said it was his first trip to the state.

The City of South Sioux City will soon be saying goodbye to its Fire Chief.

Council members announced Monday night that Terry Johnson will be leaving his position. Johnson was named the fire chief in 2021 and brought more than 30 years of experience in fire service. His last day is March 16.

Briar Cliff University has finalized plans for a new healthcare workforce training facility, with the help of a $2M grant award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, support from the Missouri River Historical Development and other donors.

Siouxland News CBS/FOX 44 reports with the new design, the university will remove Toller Hall to prepare for a new building, creating a more efficient and environmentally friendly facility.

Previously named the School of Interprofessional Health and Help Sciences™, the facility will now be named the College of Health & Equity. Adding “Equity” to its name signals Briar Cliff’s focus on intentional recruitment and support of communities that have not traditionally completed four-year degrees, particularly in healthcare.

The Governor and Iowa Economic Development Authority announced the final round of the Destination Iowa grants designed to attract new people to the state.

One of the largest grants is $8 million for a new Dubuque Museum of Art. The Iowa Great Lakes area and one western Iowa community have been awarded millions of dollars to boost tourism.

The Dickinson County Conservation Board was awarded $3,500,000 dollars to develop the new Sherwood Forest Park on the former site of The Inn at Okoboji resort. The Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji was awarded $185,000 dollars for the Art Smart Children’s Interactive Gallery project. And, the city of Denison was awarded $4,500,000 dollars for the Crawford County Wellness and Recreation Center.

In all, Destination Iowa awards were granted to 46 projects totaling $115 million to improve the quality of life in the state.