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Newscast 11.16.2023: 20th anniversary of Sioux City and Japan sister city relationship; Nebraska abortion measure may be on 2024 ballot; Winnebago Tribe could get Siouxland land

Yamanashi, Japan, image from City of Sioux City.
Yamanashi, Japan, image from City of Sioux City.

SIOUX CITY — Thursday was a notable day in Sioux City, as a celebration of the 20th-year anniversary was held for the sister city relationship with a city from Japan.

A ceremony was held midday at City Hall to note the 20 years since the November 2003 signing to have Yamanashi City as sister city with Sioux City.

Joining Sioux City officials such as Mayor Bob Scott was Yamanashi City Mayor Haruo Takagi, the Yamanashi school superintendent, and others, for a gift exchange and street dedication.

The relationship was created for the purpose of goodwill and cultural exchange, and delegations from each of the two cities have visited the others many times over the 20 years. City officials have also sought to exchange ideas and learn from each other, Mayor Scott said.

Additional activities will take place on Friday, with discussions to center on quality of life, education, economic development, and public safety, as the Yamanashi visitors will tour such places as Jolly Time Popcorn, Sioux City museums, Morningside College, and Western Iowa Tech Community College.

Additionally, one day after a petition filed with the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office revealed a group aims to place a ballot initiative in the 2024 November election to amend the state constitution to provide the right to an abortion until fetal viability, Governor Jim Pillen on Thursday said he hopes the measure is defeated.

The abortion-rights group called Protect Our Rights is pushing to make abortion legal until fetal viability, which is usually about 24 weeks of pregnancy, and when needed to “protect the life or health of the pregnant patient.”

That language is similar to the constitutional amendment that Ohio voters passed last week, which guarantees abortion access until fetal viability in that state.

Pillen in a Thursday release said the possible ballot measure is a “flawed initiative,” and that he was proud to sign the recent law that put in place a “strong and reasonable 12-week abortion ban with common sense exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother.”

The Protect Our Rights group is now underway in the quest to get enough signatures to the measure be on the ballot next year. That will involve getting signatures of 10 percent of Nebraska’s registered voters, or roughly 123,000 signatures.

Additionally, senators from Iowa and Nebraska are supporting federal legislation that would return land in northwest Iowa to the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. A tribal spokesperson said Wednesday the move is way overdue, as tribal members take seriously being good stewards of Mother Earth.

In 1970, the U.S. Government took 1,600 acres away from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska through eminent domain. The plan was to use the ground along the Missouri River in Woodbury and Monona Counties for a recreation area, but that panned out.

Garan Coons, Communications Director for the Winnebago Tribe, said they won a legal fight in the 1970s to get the land back but require an act of Congress to complete the process.

Tribal officials are in Washington, D.C., this week pushing for passage of the legislation. Coons said it is important to be in the nation’s capitol to tell policymakers how important this project is to the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the whole Tribal Nation.

The land is currently overseen by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Coons said the Tribe doesn’t currently have a specific plan for how the land might be developed.

Also, gas prices continue to fall fairly rapidly over the last month, as the Iowa Department of Agriculture has summarized in the most recent weekly fuel report. The price of regular unleaded gasoline fell 8 cents, averaging $3.03 across Iowa.

Several Sioux City area stations are selling unleaded in the range from $2.79 to $2.99 per gallon currently.

Prices in Iowa are down 47 cents from one year ago, and the national average for unleaded is $3.35 per gallon.