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SPM NEWS 6.23.23: Missouri River flooding lawsuit ruling, Spirit Lake rescinds school conceal-and-carry policy, IA Governor visits new owners of Wells, and more

Iowa trade delegation meets with Ferraro company officials in Italy
Twitter/Gov. Kim Reynolds
Iowa trade delegation meets with Ferraro company officials in Italy

An appeals court has not only upheld a 2020 order for the federal government to pay landowners along the Missouri River for years of flooding, it's also requiring the government to cover crop losses and damages from the devastating floods of 2011. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sided with landowners who sued in 2014, arguing that the federal government violated constitutional protections against taking property without just compensation. The lawsuit says the Corps of Engineers caused recurrent flooding after changing how it manages the Missouri River’s flow to prioritize protecting endangered fish and birds. Attorneys for the landowners expect the government to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled Gov. Kim Reynolds can be dismissed from a lawsuit brought by a former state department of public health employee who claims she was forced to resign for fulfilling journalists’ public information requests.

The ruling reversed a lower court’s decision, which had declined to dismiss Gov. Reynolds and her former communications director Pat Garrett from the wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former IDPH spokesperson Polly Carver-Kimm saying they lacked the power to remove her from her position.

However, the court ruled Carver-Kimm’s case against the state can proceed.

The ruling comes just days after the state agreed to pay more than 174 thousand dollars to settle three lawsuits that accused Gov. Reynolds of failing to follow public records laws.

The Spirit Lake School Board has rescinded its plan to let up to ten non-teaching staff members carry concealed weapons on school grounds.

The decision last night comes after the company that has provided the district’s liability insurance said it would not renew the policy on July 1. The board’s president Teresa Beck tells Radio Iowa the district had no other options but to withdraw the gun policy that had been approved last fall as part of the school’s safety plan, even though a majority of the community and teachers supported the plan.

State Auditor Rob Sand says it’s unclear whether a new state law may restrict the ability of his office to review how a private company manages the new state-funded accounts for private school expenses.”

The law forbids the state auditor’s office from going to court to force state officials and agencies to turn over documents. It also restricts Sand’s office from accessing personal information that an individual would reasonably expect to be kept private or consider unnecessary to an audit. Sand, the only Democrat in statewide office, says Republican lawmakers who approved those restrictions have limited the ability of his office to investigate potential fraud.

Sand says a lot of people are concerned about public money going to private schools and the lack of transparency and accountability and rules.

Sand made his comments after a town hall meeting in Mason City Thursday afternoon. Sand also held other town hall meetings yesterday in north central Iowa.

Iowa Democratic lawmakers have implored Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to apply for federal assistance to help provide food for Iowa school children during summer break.

The Sioux City Journal reports they sent a letter to Reynolds Thursday urging the governor to take advantage of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pandemic EBT program.

In Iowa, one in every 11 children faces hunger, with 40 percent of households receiving SNAP benefits, according to Feeding America.

Governor Kim Reynolds has visited the Italian companythat recently bought Le Mars-based Wells Enterprises, the makers of Blue Bunny ice cream.

Reynolds is on a two-week overseas trade mission. She posted photos online of her meeting with executives of the Ferraro Group, one of the world’s largest food manufacturers.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds visits Ferraro in Italy
Twitter/Governor Kim Reynolds
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds visits Ferraro in Italy

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is making a renewed pitch for the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act she and 20 other Senate Republicans are co-sponsoring.
For more on the story check out this linkfrom Radio Iowa.

Planned Parenthood is closing three of its nine clinics in Iowa over the next year in response to staffing shortages and increased costs. Clinics in Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, and the south side of Des Moines will be closed, with staff and services moved to other locations.

The organization plans to expand abortion services at its Ames, Iowa City and Omaha clinics.

The publisher of a new Black-owned newspaper in Iowa says she wants to bring the stories of Black Iowans to print and ensure the community has a place in news coverage. Black Iowa News started online in 2020. Now, in addition to the website and newsletter, they’re publishing a newspaper. Founder and publisher Dana James delivered the first 8,500 copies earlier this month.

Submitted news releases:

City of Sioux City

Isabella Square Affordable Housing Development 1200 and 1211 West 5th Street

The City of Sioux City is proud and excited to announce a partnership with West Middle LLC, Dan Hiserote, Managing Member. This partnership will result in the construction of the Isabella Square development which includes 11 affordable single family owner-occupied homes to be located at 1200 and 1211 West 5th Street (former West Middle School location). Each home will have full basements, three bedrooms, one bath, and a one car garage. The homes will be approximately 1,200 square feet and will be constructed by December 31, 2025. In addition, utility improvements will be made in the area along with the dedication and construction of a new public park.

This project is being made possible with the use of funds from three grants. A total of $1.7M in federal HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) funds will be used to subsidize the construction cost of the homes. In addition, $700,000 in federal Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) funding will be used to complete the design, construction, and construction management of upgraded utilities in the area to support this development. Finally, federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds will be used to construct the new park.

Once the homes are constructed, the sales price will be determined by an appraisal. The buyers would each need to qualify for a conventional loan and meet annual income requirements (for example, a family of four could not make more than about $70,000 in taxable income per year). HOME funds will then be utilized to assist with down payment and closing costs to make the homes more affordable. For example, the homes on Center Street which were constructed using similar funding sources sold for between $140,000 – $145,000. The resulting monthly payments (including mortgage, taxes, insurance) for the buyers ranged from approximately $600 to $850.

As construction progresses more information will be shared regarding how to qualify to purchase the homes. Please contact Jill M. Wanderscheid at 712-224-5136 or jmwander@sioux-city.org with any questions.