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Newscast 03.17.23: RAGBRAI 2023 logo released in Sioux City; New efforts to end Nebraska death penalty; Public land bill hits a wall in the IA Legislature

Legislation that could limit the acquisition of new public lands — and was approved by the Iowa Senate on Tuesday — failed to advance from a House subcommittee on Thursday amid significant public opposition.

The bill would strip existing wording from Iowa law that directs state agencies to acquire and protect “open space” lands and to create recreational trails throughout the state. The bill would prioritize maintenance for existing public lands and trails over new acquisitions.

Environmentalists, hunters, bicyclists and county leaders decried the bill’s perceived intent to limit new public areas in the state.

Orange, yellow and deep purple will dominate the official logo for Sioux City's 50th anniversary of hosting the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI).

RAGBRAI starts off in Sioux City on July 22, ending in Davenport on July 29.

The logo and the slogan "You Never Forget Your First Ride" was unveiled at a news conference held at the Sioux City Art Center Friday morning. Graphic designer Jeff Gordon created the logo imagery, which included a bicycle, the state of Iowa, waterways, the local skyline as well as the cities Sioux City and Davenport, which were both represented by violet hearts.

A Democratic state senator is arguing that Nebraskans ought to be given another opportunity to vote to abolish the death penalty in the wake of growing evidence and knowledge that it is "horrible, inhumane" and unevenly applied.

Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha (D) says many individuals who are executed are found to be innocent. McKinney saluted his predecessor, former Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, for his long effort to finally win legislative enactment of a bill to abolish the death penalty in 2015.

As Nebraska’s Legislature heads toward a debate over whether the state should drastically limit abortion access, one lawmaker is looking to give voters a say on the matter.

The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee held a public hearing Thursday on two amendments that would enshrine abortion rights in Nebraska’s Constitution. Both were introduced by State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha (D), who has led opposition to recent attempts to restrict abortion access in the state.

The Black Hills National Forest is growing by about one-third of a square mile.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation acquired 239 acres of land from two landowners for a total of $1.1 million and conveyed it to the national forest. The land is high in the remote western area of the forest in South Dakota, near the Wyoming border. The property is now publicly owned as part of the national forest, open for hunting and other recreational activities.

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