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NEWS 4.14.22

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Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster and his campaign issued statements Thursday denying the sexual harassment claims made against him.

News reports say eight women, including State Senator Julie Slama of Sterling say Herbster grabbed them inappropriately.

Herbster blamed Governor Ricketts and GOP candidate Jim Pillen claims the story is a dirty political trick. Pillen is the GOP candidate endorsed by the governor.

An investigation in Nebraska has concluded that a state lawmaker who resigned after admitting that he took photos of a female subordinate without her permission acted in a “boorish, brainless and bizarre” manner but did not commit illegal sexual discrimination or harassment.

Lincoln attorney Tara Paulson wrote in her report that was released Wednesday that former state Sen. Mike Groene’s behavior was “wholly unprofessional and inappropriate” and that he would have faced disciplinary action in a private-sector job. Groene resigned in February after admitting that he took the photos of a female staffer. Groene, a blunt-spoken, often abrasive Republican who clashed with Democratic colleagues, also ended his candidacy to become a University of Nebraska Regent.

Iowa Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says he supports President Joe Biden’s announcement to allow the summertime sale of gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol. But he says the Biden administration should take things a step further.

“This announcement is only a fix for this one summer. Now that the administration is on record supporting year-round E15, I hope the president will support the bipartisan voice in Congress to make it permanent.”

Grassley is co-sponsoring a bill introduced by Iowa Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst to replace banned Russian oil imports with biofuels and make E15 available year-round. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Earlier this week, Biden announced the summertime sale of E15 as a way of helping ease this year’s higher costs of filling up.

A top state official says the Glenwood Resource Center will close because the state cannot find a way to comply with federal requirements.

Governor Reynolds announced late last week that the state-run residential facility would be closed in two years.

A federal investigation determined the state-run facility for Iowans with intellectual disabilities provided substandard care and permitted harmful human subject experimentations.

Department of Human Services Director Kelly Garcia says in the past two years, the state has failed to make significant progress to improve clinical care.

Despite our best efforts, recruitment efforts, a significant amount of money offered to try to recruit a medical chief medical officer out of that campus, we have not been able to secure one. We went down very recently to six nurses to serve 153 individuals, it's not enough.

Garcia says the state will work closely with residents and staff in preparation for the facility’s closure in 2024.

A top state official says the Department of Human Services is making sure Afghan refugees have the resources they need to resettle into Iowa.

DHS Director Kelly Garcia says state officials have visited with Afghan families directly to determine that they are getting essential services like housing and food assistance.

This comes after a Des Moines Register investigation found some families were living in extended-stay hotels while running out of food and could not contact their caseworkers.

Garcia says DHS is working closely with local resettlement agencies.

I feel like we I think have broken open all of the challenges that they're experiencing, and have that established, reestablished that connection, have a direct line to us so that we can problem solve for them.”

More than 75 thousand Afghan refugees have come to the U-S since their country fell to the Taliban last August.

Siouxland Public Media reached out to the Mary J. Treglia Community House about refugees who resettled in Siouxland. Executive Director Becky Carlson released this statement.

We have been extremely lucky to have been able to secure housing for the families that we have settled, although I believe that (as everywhere) there is a housing shortage in Sioux City which impacts the refugees. I believe that are over 200 Afghans living in Sioux City now, although only maybe 40-50 Afghan that are supported through Refugee Settlement agencies (us and Lutheran Services in Iowa) but the others with are not receiving any supportive services, as they were recruited to work at a company in Siouxland.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts signed off on a $900 million property and income tax cut package Wednesday. The measure will reduce the top individual and corporate income tax rates to 5.84% by 2027. It will also speed up the state's plan to phase out taxes on Social Security income and create a refundable tax credit to reimburse property owners for some of the taxes they pay to community colleges. Some senators raised concerns about how the tax cuts will affect the state budget in future years, but lawmakers ultimately passed the package over those objections.

The new owners of the “Field of Dreams” site in Iowa plan to use $80 million in private investment to make the popular tourist attraction a destination for youth baseball and softball tournaments. The Des Moines Register reports that Go the Distance said in a news release Thursday that the money will be used to build baseball and softball fields, team dormitories and a hotel, among other improvements. Go the Distance’s CEO is longtime Chicago White Sox star and hall-of-famer Frank Thomas. The site in rural Dyersville, Iowa, has long been a popular destination, since the 1989 Kevin Costner movie.

Record snowfall from a spring blizzard is shutting down government offices, schools and some businesses for a third day in North Dakota. The Capitol and other state offices in Bismarck and beyond remained closed Thursday, public and private schools canceled classes or switched to virtual instruction, flights at the Bismarck Airport were canceled and some highways are still closed. The National Weather Service’s blizzard warning for much of the state and smaller sections of South Dakota and Montana remained in effect Thursday. More than a foot of snow has fallen in Bismarck with about 2 feet in Dickinson and Glenburn.