NEWS 6.8.21: IA Diversity Law, Local C19 Vaccine Rates, Mardi Gras Parade, SITP Update, and More

Jun 8, 2021

Credit pxhere.com

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law putting new limits on government agency diversity trainings and school lessons related to racism and sexism.

The new law says trainings and lessons must not promote certain ideas, including that the US and the state of Iowa are systemically racist or sexist.

In a statement, Reynolds claims that “critical race theory” teaches kids to judge people based on their race or gender. She says, quote, “I am proud to have worked with the legislature to promote learning, not discriminatory indoctrination.”

Critical race theory starts with the idea that racism is embedded in American society and institutions. The new law says it does NOT prohibit teaching about slavery, racial oppression, and laws resulting in segregation and discrimination.

Democrats opposed the bill. They say it’ll have a chilling effect on agency and school attempts to be more inclusive, and will impact efforts to teach about systemic racism and implicit bias.

The new law takes effect July first.

The Executive Director of Siouxland District Health says when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, more 36% of the total population in Woodbury County has been fully vaccinated. More than 40% have received at least one dose.

Kevin Grieme says there has not been a change in the low counts of the African American community receiving the vaccine.  Local officials estimated the rate at less than one percent in the middle of April.

The Dakota County Health Department is taking appointments for COVID-19 vaccination clinics. They are scheduled for every Wednesday. Both the Moderna and one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccines will be available. Call (402) 987-2164 for more information.

The city of Sioux City announced plans for this year’s Mardi Gras Parade. The event was canceled last year due to COVID-19. The parade kicks off the Saturday in the Park Festival on Thursday, July 1st at 6 p.m. in downtown Sioux City.  

Credit City of Sioux City

Saturday in the Park will take place over two days, Friday, July 2nd and Saturday, July 3rd. Organizers of the free music festival provided an update today. Local hip hop duo “D.A.D.” will be one of the many artists gracing the Abe Stage. Other acts on main stage include Sioux City’s own Ultra Violet Fever and Ghost Cat. Some of the national performers are CTA or California Transit Authority, Valorie June, and Trombone Shorty. The headliner for Friday night is AJR and Saturday night John Fogerty.

Final decisions on crowd size and masks requirements will be made at a future time.

A lawsuit challenging Nebraska’s two-tiered system for Medicaid expansion is on hold now that state officials have committed to giving all participants the same slate of benefits. Nebraska Appleseed, the Lincoln-based advocacy group that filed the case, and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the state Medicaid program, filed the motion. State officials recently announced they would abandon plans for a limited tier of coverage for most Medicaid expansion patients.

Iowa has agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle eight separate discrimination and negligence claims at its public universities. The payments payments include $3.5 million to an Iowa City couple who accused UI Hospitals and Clinics doctors of negligence during the birth of their daughter, leaving the baby with permanent brain damage.

A lawsuit challenging Nebraska’s two-tiered system for Medicaid expansion is on hold now that state officials have committed to giving all participants the same slate of benefits. Nebraska Appleseed, the Lincoln-based advocacy group that filed the case, and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the state Medicaid program, filed the motion. State officials recently announced they would abandon plans for a limited tier of coverage for most Medicaid expansion patients.

Another $1.8 million will be paid to a Massachusetts sound technician hurt while working a Luke Bryant concert at the University of Northern Iowa in 2018. The state also agreed to pay a total of $150,000 to three former UI police offers who sued in 2018 accusing the institution and its administrators of age and disability discrimination.

Republicans in the four early presidential nominating states, including Iowa are jointly opposing a Democratic push in Nevada to make the Western state the first to hold a primary. They want to preserve the historic schedule, which has led off with Iowa’s caucus followed by New Hampshire’s primary. The move comes as a bill that would push Nevada up from from the third-in-line caucus state to the first-in-the-nation primary sits on Democratic governor of Nevada’s desk.

The union at a Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in South Dakota says it will head to contract negotiations armed with the authorization to call a strike.

The strike authorization at the Sioux Falls chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union was overwhelmingly approved late Monday with 98% of the vote total. However, union leaders say they hope to avoid a work stoppage as they prepared for a meeting with company representatives Tuesday. The union is demanding that Smithfield boost its wage offerings. Virginia-based Smithfield Foods says its initial contract offer was in line with accepted agreements at other plants.

New life for a former Sioux City elementary school. Lincoln Elementary closed in 2016 with the opening of Perry Creek Elementary. A Performing Arts Center will be moving in. The announcement was made public during a dance recital at the Orpheum Theatre for the Contemporary Dance Studio.  The owner of Contemporary Dance Studio and Artisti Director of the Flux Dance Company, Jessica McCully, told the Sioux City Journal the mission is to strengthen the cultural landscape of Siouxland.The first phase is expected to be finished this year with dance studios and music rooms on the first floor.An outdoor performance area is in the works for the future.