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NEWS 6.19.23: Summit Pipeline hearing pushed up, Iowa SUPCO critic, drought impact, and more

A final permit hearing to consider Summit Carbon Solutions’ proposed carbon dioxide pipeline will start two months earlier than initially expected, according to a procedural schedule set Friday by the Iowa Utilities Board.

The change came after a shake-up in leadership on the board. The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports can be found at this link.

A leader in the successful 2010 effort to kick three justices off the Iowa Supreme Court says it may be time for a similar move after the current court deadlocked, preventing a six-week abutilon ban from taking effect in Iowa.

Bob Vander Plaats, the president and C-E-O of The Family Leader, campaigned against the retention votes for three Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined the court’s unanimous 2009 opinion legalizing same-sex marriage.

“Here we go again,” Vander Plaats told Radio Iowa. “When you have justices aren’t staying in their lane when it comes to the separation of powers — in the words of the other three justices, they’re trying to be a super legislature.”

Republican lawmakers passed a so-called “fetal heartbeat” law in 2018 to ban most abortions in Iowa, but due to court rulings it never took effect. The three justices who kept the blockade in place are not up for a statewide retention vote until 2028.

Impeaching an Iowa Supreme Court justice requires a vote in the Iowa House, a trial in the Iowa Senate and then two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote for impeachment. Republicans currently hold the required 34 seats.

Last June, both the United States and the Iowa Supreme Courts ruled there was no constitutional right to an abortion and Governor Reynolds asked the state supreme court to reconsider the six-week abortion ban she signed in 2018.

A spokeswoman for Iowa’s “Justice Not Politics” coalition said Vander Plaats is hyping the issue to gain more steam for Republicans heading into the 2024 election.

All seven members of the Iowa Supreme Court have been appointed by Republican governors.

Davenport has hired two firms to look into why a downtown apartment building collapsed last month. But news reports say the city is keeping the contract from public view.

Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He says Iowa Code doesn’t require the city to answer questions. But it DOES require the city to make public documents like the contract available.

“It’s not like they’re having to dig into the bowels of some filing cabinet from 10 years ago to find the records. This should be an easy one to fulfill.”

Two Davenport City Council members say they have not been given the contract either.

Crops are starting to show signs of stress brought on by the drought.

Iowa State University Extension tells Radio Iowa there is leaf rolling with corn crops in north central Iowa. Soybeans are also short on moisture.

Experts say some rain will be needed soon to keep the crop conditions from getting worse.

Submitted news releases:

Gov. Reynolds Announces $148 Million Broadband Grant Opportunity

DES MOINES – Today, Governor Reynolds and the Department of Management’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) announced a new broadband grant opportunity for internet service providers. $148,960,000 is available through Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program with funding from the Capital Projects Fund (CPF) administered by the US Department of Treasury.

“Iowans deserve access to reliable, fast broadband,” said Governor Reynolds. “Reliable internet connections are needed to live, work, and raise a family. This investment in infrastructure gets us one step closer to providing easy internet access to all Iowans. ”

This round of grant funds will be used to incentivize broadband infrastructure build out in the newly established Broadband Intervention Zones (BIZ). Through feedback from 55 public meetings in Iowa communities, 96 BIZ zones were created across the state. These are areas deemed to be in the most need for broadband infrastructure expansion.

This will be the eighth Notice of Funds Available for the State of Iowa. Through seven previous grant opportunities, $352,850,022 in state and federal funding was awarded to bring broadband service to 109,126 homes, schools and businesses in Iowa. The total new broadband investment between public and private money is $791,203,995.

For more information on the latest round of broadband grant funding head over to https://ocio.iowa.gov/broadband, or email ociogrants@iowa.gov.

UnityPoint Clinic to open new location in Dakota Dunes

(Sioux City, Iowa – June 19, 2023) UnityPoint Health – Sioux City is pleased to announce the construction of a new UnityPoint Clinic location in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. UnityPoint Clinic – Dakota Dunes will offer additional convenience to residents in the Dakota Dunes and North Sioux City community by providing healthcare services close to home.

Located at 350 Gold Circle Drive (next to P’s Pizza House), UnityPoint Clinic – Dakota Dunes will include 7,500 square feet of space and will be home to urgent care and family medicine services. This new location will also feature specialty services initially offering foot and ankle surgery services.

“We are proud to be building a new UnityPoint Clinic location in Dakota Dunes. This new medical building will address the increasing demand for healthcare services in our community,” says Jane Arnold,Senior Vice President of Operations and Regional Vice President of Ambulatory Operations at UnityPoint Health – Sioux City. “I’m excited for us to be able to offer important urgent care services for patients of all ages and stages in this community.”

Construction of UnityPoint Clinic – Dakota Dunes has already started, and we look forward to being open to serve our community in early 2024.