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NEWS 5.31.23: DeSantis visits Siouxland, "school choice" updates, Nebraska repeals helmet law, and more

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stopped in Siouxland again this morning. DeSantis, who is officially in the race for President did visit Sioux Center on Saturday, May 13th.

DeSantis visited Port Neal Welding in Salix this morning. He also campaigned in Council Bluffs, Pella and Cedar Rapids today.

A group has filed a petition to put Nebraska’s school choice bill to a vote on the 2024 ballot.

LB753 was signed by Gov. Pillen on Tuesday and authorizes $25 million in tax credits for those who donate scholarships to private schools in Nebraska.

Supporters of the bill say the scholarships will support low-income families.

Support Our Schools Nebraska says the bill neglects public schools.

Some Iowa parents may begin applying for $7,600 dollars in state funding to cover private school tuition for their children today. The plan for state-funded Educational Savings Accounts was the number one legislative priority for Governor Kim Reynolds and she released a video message on the topic this morning.

“I believe education is the great equalizer which is why it was so important to remove the boundaries that have existed between public and private schools for too long.”

A New York company is managing the online portal where Iowans apply for state funding and the company makes the tuition payments to private schools

The application period for low-income parents to enroll their kids in private schools closes June 30th. Some private schools have raised tuition by double digits.

Radio Iowa reports Bishop Heelan Catholic High School in Sioux City raised tuition by 24%. Information on the district’s website says the tuition has been frozen for families from South Dakota and Nebraska currently enrolled in BHCS. For Iowa families that do not qualify for an ESA, tuition is also frozen at the 2022-2023 tuition rate.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Tuesday that she's sending a major show of support to the Texas border.

Reynolds authorized about 100 Iowa National Guard troops and 30 Department of Public Safety officers to deploy later this summer as part of Operation Lone Star.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested help securing the border following the end of Title 42. The pandemic-era policy allowed the government to quickly expel most migrants at the border without allowing asylum claims.

Last week, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen authorized the deployment of 10 state troopers to the border.

LINCOLN — Soon, motorcycle riders in Nebraska will no longer be required to wear a helmet while they're on the road.

The Nebraska Legislature passed Legislative Bill 138 in a 41-0 vote Wednesday, sending it to Gov. Jim Pillen's desk for his signature. Under an amendment added to the bill last week, the legislation includes a repeal of the state's motorcycle helmet mandate.

Upon arriving on the scene deputies began attempting life-saving measures on Pena, the sheriff’s office reported. Madison County Fire and Rescue also arrived on the scene and assisted with the attempt to save Pena’s life. Life-Net was contacted, however, Pena died before he could be transported.

Next of kin have been notified and the incident is under investigation.

Virtually all of Iowa’s corn seed is in the ground, and soybeans aren’t far behind, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Check out the story from the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Submitted news releases:

LINCOLN, NE – On Thursday, June 1 at 12:45 p.m., Governor Jim Pillen will sign LB562 into law.

LB562 creates an access standard for E15 in Nebraska as well as boosting tax credits for fuel retailers who offer higher ethanol blends. The legislation will require most fuel retailers to offer E15 by 2028 if the blend rate of ethanol into total motor fuel is less than 14%.

This event will take place outside of the Governor's Residence.

Gov. Reynolds announces $5M investment to Help Boost Food Bank Capacity

DES MOINES – Today, Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority announced a $5 million investment in food banks and food pantry networks to help more Iowans in need get access to fresh, nutritious food.

“Access to fresh foods is a challenge for those facing food insecurity and soaring inflation has made it even harder,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Iowa is making long-term investments to reduce food insecurity in our communities – supporting food banks and their networks to better serve those in need. This one-time infrastructure investment will help improve capacity and distribution at Iowa’s food banks, and ensure more Iowans have access to the food they need.”

The new Iowa Food Insecurity Infrastructure Fund will help eligible nonprofits that have experienced economic hardship build, expand, or remodel facilities to enable them to increase the amount of food, especially fresh food, distributed to local food pantries throughout Iowa. Eligible nonprofits include food banks that are bulk food aggregators or distributors that replenish food pantries across Iowa, as well as nonprofit food pantry networks that serve as primary distribution points.

IEDA will begin accepting applications on June 1 and will continue to review applications as they arrive through July 1 or until funding runs out. Funded projects must be completed by June 30, 2026. For more information, visit https://www.iowaeda.com/infrastructure/food-infrastructure/.



SOUTH SIOUX CITY, NEBRASKA – The New Stage Players Penguin Project unveils an additional performance space with 101 DALMATIANS KIDS on stage at the Briar Cliff Theater on the Briar Cliff University campus in Sioux City.

Regarding the new 140 seat space, New Stage Players President Christine Wolf says, “It was an answered prayer. We needed a bigger space to accommodate our Penguin Project rehearsals and performances. At BCU, we have plenty of room to rehearse and the seating will allow more patrons to attend these very special shows.”

Rehearsals for the upcoming summer show THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL continue at the New Stage Players Performing Arts Center in South Sioux City.

All seats for DALMATIANS KIDS are $10 and may be reserved online at newstageplayers.com.

Performances are scheduled for: Friday, 6/9 at 7pm Saturday, 6/10 at 2pm Sunday, 6/11 at 2pm

ABOUT THE PENGUIN PROJECT: Established in 2004, The Penguin Project has evolved into a National program, with Chapter sites throughout the United States. The program provides a supportive environment for children with disabilities to explore their creative talents through participation in live theatrical productions. It has also demonstrated that participation in the performing arts has therapeutic value by enhancing social interaction, communication skills, self-confidence and self-esteem.

NEW STAGE PLAYERS is the exclusive home for The Penguin Project in Siouxland and is the only amateur theatrical troupe to call South Sioux City, Nebraska home. www.newstageplayers.com

Details and live music announced for Camp High Hopes’ upcoming Rib Fest fundraiser

Sioux City, IA – Camp High Hopes, along with Tyson Foods and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, is pleased to announce details and the performers that will be rocking the stage during Rib Fest this summer.

Performing for the second time at Rib Fest will be Trust. The band will play its first set to welcome in guests starting at noon on Saturday, June 24th. Rib Fest guests will love this classic rock cover band.

In addition to live music and a chance to taste some delicious barbecue, there will be other family-friendly activities and some great raffle prizes to win too! The public tasting portion of the event ends at 3pm followed by the raffle drawing and announcement of the winners of Rib Fest 2023.

Rib Fest is Siouxland’s biggest and most rockin’ rib cook off. This is also one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for Camp High Hopes. This year, it’s scheduled for Saturday, June 24th from 12pm to 3pm at Battery Park at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City. There will be 15 local and regional barbeque teams competing for prize money, trophies, and bragging rights.

Each year, Tyson Foods’ Fresh Meats business generously provides the ribs and chicken to the competing teams for Rib Fest. The public has a chance to taste the area’s best barbeque and vote for their favorite! One hundred percent of the funds raised during Rib Fest stay in Siouxland to benefit campers who attend life-changing camp programs at Camp High Hopes.

“We are so thankful for our community partners, like Tyson Foods and the Hard Rock, to be able to offer an exciting event to the public with Rib Fest,” says Sarah Morgan, Executive Director of Camp High Hopes. “It will be a great day to enjoy barbeque, live music, and entertainment all while helping to support a great cause, like Camp High Hopes.”

This is the ninth year Tyson Foods has supplied the meat for the event and this is the eighth year Hard Rock has hosted Rib Fest.

“We’re proud to partner with Camp High Hopes as the presenting sponsor and support Rib Fest once again this year,” says Shane Miller, Group President of Fresh Meats, Tyson Foods. “Many of our team members’ families benefit from the important services provided by Camp High Hopes, and Rib Fest helps to ensure these continue to be available to individuals, families, and the community.”

“Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is proud to be a part of this event every year to support Camp High Hopes,” says Shannon Pauling, the Director of Marketing for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City. “This event captures their mission of fun and community by bringing people together with the best ribs, chicken, and music around!”

Tyson Foods and the camp are also bringing back Rib Fest Roadside: A Drive Through Rib Sale. People can purchase premium pork ribs for as low as $8 a slab. The drive through rib sale is Saturday, June 10th from 8am to 11am.