Iowa Legislature

Update: Iowa Senate Republicans have voted to reject the state’s first proposed redistricting plan. The proposed legislative and congressional districts were drawn by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

All 32 GOP senators voted against the plan, and all 18 Democrats voted for it. 

WHO-TV, DES MOINES, IA

State lawmakers will be back at the Iowa Capitol tomorrow for a rare special session. They’ll vote to accept or reject new political boundaries.

Some states, led by Republicans and Democrats, have already been sued this year over their redistricting plans. Some lawsuits allege state lawmakers purposefully diluted the voting power of various racial and ethnic groups.

In Iowa, the president of the state NAACP Betty Andrews says the organization hasn’t taken a position on the proposed maps yet, but she’s monitoring the process.

Associated Press

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says he will seek an eighth term in 2022.

The 88-year-old announced his reelection plans this morning on Twitter. 

“Hey, there I am running for reelection. It’s the right thing to do for Iowa."

change.org

A petition drive condemning Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and lawmakers for passing a law banning mask mandates is gaining traction. Siouxland Public Media talked to the organizer, who says the safety of students and families is at risk.

“It started out with us just wanting to make a statement.”

CDC

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska has increased in each of the past ten weeks, and the total nearly doubled over the past two weeks as the highly contagious delta variant of the virus continues to spread.

Nebraska reported around 5,000 new cases last week to the CDC.

That’s up from the previous week and nearly double the cases recorded the week before.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 190 new cases per day on Aug. 15 to more than 715 new cases per day on Sunday.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

Ras Smith who is running as a Democrat for Iowa Governor says current Governor Kim Reynolds needs to work for the people. The 33-year-old, three-term state representative from Waterloo visited Sioux City last night.

Smith gained prominence by helping broker a police accountability law that passed unanimously after the murder of George Floyd. 

Since then, he has been critical of priorities passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, including the new “Back the Blue” bill signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday, June 17.

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.”

CDC

As of this morning, students, teachers, and staff in the Sioux City Community School District and across the state are no longer required to wear masks. That action was taken to comply with a law passed last night by the Iowa legislature in the final hours of this year’s session.  Early this morning, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the bill that prohibits mask mandates in Iowa schools. 

Dakota County Health Department

The Iowa Department of Public Health shows three more deaths due to complications of COVID-19 and more than 500 new cases, including seven more in Woodbury County. Since the start of the pandemic more than 15,000 Woodbury County residents have tested positive for the virus and 224 deaths.

The 14-day test positivity rate in Woodbury County is 4.1%, this is slightly above the state rate of 4%.

City of Sioux City

The Sioux Gateway Airport will receive $1,000,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce to help build a local flight school. The $7,000,000 project includes hanger and office space and is expected to create 43 new skilled jobs. The aviation center will partner with area schools and colleges to provide education and training opportunities, including a fully accredited flight school. Construction is expected to start this year.

Associated Press/Liz Martin

Iowa state prisons officials say a nurse and a corrections officer have been killed in an attack by an inmate at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. The Iowa Department of Corrections says the attack happened Tuesday morning, when an inmate attacked several staff members and inmates in the prison’s infirmary. The department said that it was still collecting and confirming details of the assault but it can confirm “an inmate attacked multiple staff members and inmates.” As a result of their injuries, a correctional nurse and correctional officer died.

coronavirus.iowa.gov

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported three more deaths due to COVID-19 in Woodbury County for 214 in all since the start of the pandemic. Statewide there were 35 additional deaths reported in 24-hours and more than 550 new positive tests.

There are currently outbreaks at a dozen long-term care facilities in Iowa, with none in northwest Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Public Health today is launching  Vaccinate.Iowa.gov, a new website that provides information about vaccine priority populations and eligibility, resources available for Iowans age 65 and older, and answers to fre

IDPH

The state of Iowa plans to launch a new website tomorrow to provide more information on how to get COVID-19 vaccines.

However, the Governor stressed during a news conference today Iowans will not be able to schedule an appointment on the site www.vaccinate.iowa.gov.

The state also plans to reach out to older Iowans in need of finding a vaccine. Starting on March 8 they will open a 211-call center to answer questions and help with scheduling.

Winnebago Public Health Department

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 15 more Iowans have died from COVID-19 complications. More than 700 tested positive in 24-hours, including 26 more in Woodbury County. The positivity rate for Woodbury County increased about a 1/3 or a percentage point for a currently level of 5.4% over 14-days.

Iowa PBS

The Iowa Department of Health recorded 43 more deaths due to complications of COVID-19, including two more in Woodbury County. The state also added more than 600  new cases. The number of hospitalizations at Sioux City’s two medical facilities has doubled in a day to a dozen patients. However, that number is less than 10% of the record high of 108 set back on December 1st.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has announced the state will not move forward with plans to contract with Microsoft to build a centralized COVID-19 vaccine registration system.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Iowa Legislature is deciding the future of an education agenda brought forward by Governor Kim Reynolds this year. One proposal allows school choice. This includes charter schools and tuition scholarships for students in under-performing schools.  The other requires school districts to provide an option for 100% in-person learning.

Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer reached out to the Superintendent of the Sioux City Community School District, Dr. Paul Gausman, for his thoughts on both issues.

pxhere.com

A bill introduced in the Iowa Senate would require schools to provide an option for full-time in-person learning during the pandemic, a proposal that Governor Kim Reynolds highlighted in her Condition of the State speech.

The president of the Iowa State Education Association says forcing more students into classrooms could make it easier for the coronavirus to spread.

National Weather Service

Siouxland is gearing up for the second Blizzard Warning in three weeks.  The warning starts tonight at 6 and extends until 6 p.m. tomorrow.  The forecast calls for 3 to 8 inches by tomorrow afternoon, with wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour.

On social media, the National Weather Service says the severity of the storm will depend on how much snow falls. If we see more than an inch on the group with additional blowing snow, conditions will be more significant, especially for portions of Iowa and Minnesota.

When Iowa lawmakers start a new legislative session in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic they will not be required to wear masks. That’s according to new protocols for lawmakers as they return to the Statehouse on Monday. 

A six-page memo sent out by Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and Speaker of the House Pat Grassley does say social distancing should be practiced.  But, if an individual can’t do so, a face covering is recommended.  But, there is no mandate.

Nebraska Health and Human Services

Health officials with Dakota County report one more person died of complications of COVID-19 for a total of 32 deaths.  Once again, information about age or gender isn’t being released.  There were two more positive cases in Dakota County for a total of 1,741.

Siouxland District Health recorded four more positive cases and no new deaths in Woodbury County  .  The number of people who died due to the coronavirus stands at 39.  The Iowa Coronavirus website shows there are now more than 3,000 positive cases in Woodbury County.

Iowa Department of Public Health

COVID-19 has claimed one more life in Woodbury County.  Siouxland District Health says the victim was a middle-aged man.  This brings total number of deaths in the Sioux City metro area to 70.  There are 13 additional cases in Woodbury County for a total of 2,970 positive cases and 39 deaths.  One more death was reported in Dakota County on Thursday. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health’s website showed three more deaths during a 24 hour periods that ended at 10 a.m.   There have been 641 deaths statewide.  There were almost 400 new cases recorded in one day as well.

One more person has died in the Sioux City metro area due to complications of COVID-19.  However, Dakota County Health Officials aren’t releasing any information about the person’s age or gender.

There have been a total of 69 deaths total in Dakota and Woodbury counties and almost 4,700 positive cases.  There were 10 new cases in Dakota and six in Woodbury reported on Thursday.   

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 10 more deaths due to COVID-19 and more than 330 new cases in a 24-hour period.  There have been 639 deaths and almost 22,900 positive cases.

Iowa Department of Public Health

Mayors in the Sioux City metro area put out a statement calling for all public health organizations to increase the level of transparency in reporting COVID-19 cases to the community after a surge of new cases. 

The mayors of Sioux City, Sergeant Bluff, North, South and Dakota Cities signed the statement.

They also urge all tri-state-governors to use caution when lifting current restrictions across the region and for the public to be vigilant in following all health and safety guidelines.

pxhere.com

A massive fire last night killed more than 400,000 chickens at a poultry plant outside of Bloomfield, Nebraska.

Michael Foods operates the facility that produces eggs.  No employees got hurt but the fire destroyed a barn.

The National Weather service says the flames were so intense their weather satellite detected the heat more than 22,000 miles above the Earth.

Bloomfield is about 75 miles northwest of Sioux City in Knox County.

The latest attempt to lower property taxes in Nebraska faces an uncertain future as lawmakers squabble over whether it would hurt K-12 public schools that rely heavily on the revenue. Lawmakers debated the measure for nearly three hours Wednesday but failed to reach a vote before they adjourned for the day. A leading supporter says she believes she has enough votes to pass the complex bill but cautioned that lawmakers need more time to discuss and understand everything it does.

The Iowa Senate and House of Representatives gaveled in this morning.  Republican Pat Grassley of New Hartford is the new speaker of the house.

Tomorrow,  Republican Governor Kim Reynolds will deliver her third condition of the state address.

She’ll set out her agenda for the year and unveil her budget proposal. They’re expected to include workforce and rural Iowa initiatives, and restoring felon voting rights.

Listen for live coverage on Siouxland Public Media starting at 10 a.m.

wikimedia.org

State lawmakers are heading back to the Iowa Capitol next week for the 2020 legislative session, scheduled to start Monday, Jan. 13. This session will mark the fourth consecutive year with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the governor’s office

Some of the top issues include mental health funding, voting rights for felons, child care, tax policy, Medicaid oversight and medical cannabis. .

SIOUX CITY, IA - JANUARY 5, 2020
Siouxland Public Media

Less than a month before the Iowa caucuses, the top tier is a cluster of four candidates: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate John Kerry will be in Sioux City tomorrow afternoon campaigning for Biden.  He’ll make an appearance at Biden’s campaign office on Hamilton Boulevard along with other national elected officials supporting Biden.

Over the weekend candidate and Maryland Congressman John Delaney visited Siouxland.

Associated Press

Today, Democrats unveiled articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

About an hour later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an agreement on a North American trade pact, giving a major win to the president amid impeachment.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa took to Twitter to talk about the trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

However, Grassley Iowa counterpart Joni Ernst took to Twitter this morning to talk about another issue regarding the Trump Administration:

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