Home News KLEM News for Wednesday, January 25, 2023

KLEM News for Wednesday, January 25, 2023


A bill that would provide licenses for Rural Emergency Hospitals has been passed unanimously out of a House subcommittee. Rep. Tom Jeneary of Le Mars says this designation will be a help keep rural hospitals open.

The measure will give rural hospitals a new function, and keep them active.

Under this bill, rural hospitals could be licensed as Rural Emergency Hospitals. These are facilities which maintain a 24-hour emergency room, but doesn’t include acute inpatient care. This would allow them to receive higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.


Iowa District 2 State Senator Jeff Taylor of Sioux Center says the speed with which the Republican majority passed the school choice bill was no surprise. He says GOP lawmakers have been talking about school choice for years.

The state can afford this bill now, due to a large budget surplus, but Senator Taylor is confident the funding level required under this bill is sustainable.

Sen Taylor says school choice will not affect the state’s school aid formula.

In his district, it will mean more money for public schools.

The school choice bill was passed with no Democrat votes.  Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law Tuesday.



The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors made their initial contract offer to the Secondary Road Bargaining Unit at their meeting Tuesday. Last week, the Bargaining Unit proposed a 12% salary increase, plus an additional dollar fifty per hour for employees who missed that raise under the previous year’s contract. Tuesday, after a closed session to discuss their initial offer, the Supervisors proposed to the road workers a flat 6% salary increase. The Bargaining Unit will meet to discuss the Supervisors’ offer, and respond with a counteroffer at an upcoming Supervisors session.



The Le Mars Community School District Foundation and Alumni Association has opened the nomination process for their Decades of Excellence Crystal Bell Award.  From these nominations a Teacher of the Year will be determined to receive the award.  The award recognizes and honors teachers who demonstrate excellence in education by meeting the needs of their students. Nomination materials can be obtained at the Superintendent’s office, or any principals’ office in the school district. You can also find these materials on the school district website. The application deadline is Friday, March 24.



The EPA has fined a Sibley business for tampering with car engines.
Turbocharged Performance LLC will pay a 30-thousand dollar civil penalty for allegedly tampering with car engines to render emissions controls inoperative, in violation of the Clean Air Act.  EPA says the company sold or installed so-called “defeat devices” on at least 581 occasions.  The company will also be prohibited from selling defeat devices, and must destroy any such devices the company has in stock.



The Le Mars City Council meets today to discuss community development.  A planning session will take place this morning at 11:30 at the Willow Creek Golf Course banquet hall.  The city has begun a study to help determine future growth, leading to a long-term development plan for Le Mars.


The Pella Corporation has made a 25-thousand dollars grant to help Sioux Center develop recreation trails.  Plans are underway to expand the city’s trails system to eight miles.  A city survey indicates expansion of recreation trails is a high priority among residents. Pella Corporation has been a fixture in Sioux Center since opening a manufacturing plant there in 2000.



Governor Kim Reynolds says a state website will be available to provide information to low income parents who want to sign up for nearly 76-hundred dollars in state funding to cover their child’s private school expenses.

Reynolds spoke with reporters shortly after signing the bill creating the new program for parents with kids in private schools this fall. In 2026, the state funding will be available for all Iowa families with a student in a private school.

A crowd of legislators as well as state and national activists who’ve lobbied for the bill cheered as Reynolds spoke in the Capitol.

Reynolds proposed far smaller programs in 2021 and 2022, but neither could win enough G-O-P support in the Iowa House. In the June Primary, the governor campaigned against some House Republican opponents and the bill easily cleared the House Monday night with 54 Republican yes votes. House Speaker Pat Grassley says it’s the culmination of what Republicans have been telling voters.

The governor let out a whoop and led the crowd in applause. Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver credits Reynolds for being tireless in pursuing this goal.

Democratic Senator Claire Celsi of Des Moines was the lone protestor, shouting, “Nobody wants vouchers,” a few times during the event. The new program to provide state money to cover private school expenses is on a fast track. The governor says companies that want to compete to manage the state-funded accounts will be able to submit bids later Tuesday.



Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is the new leader of the Des Moines based foundation that awards the annual World Food Prize. Branstad, who is 76, says he doesn’t intend to be in the role for long — but will stay for least for a year.  In October of each year the foundation presents the World Food Prize and its 250-thousand dollar award to people at the forefront of efforts to improve the quality, quantity and availability of food. Branstad, who served as U-S Ambassador to China, will be a lead fundraiser and host of the annual World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines that attracts global leaders in research, government and commerce. Barbara Stinson, who had 30 years of experience in environmental policy and business management, stepped down last week after three years as president of the World Food Prize Foundation.



Wide sections of Iowa were hit with a whopper winter storm this week that dumped up to ten inches of snow, thanks in part to the La Nina weather pattern that’s impacting the climate across the continent. Meteorologist Dennis Todey (TODD-ee), director of the U-S-D-A’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says we’ve been in La Nina for three straight years now.

The La Nina forms when there’s a cooling of Pacific Ocean surface temperatures. Todey says it appears those temps are warming and the La Nina may vanish.

An El Nino occurs when sea surface temperatures rise above normal. Todey says seeing signs of an El Nino appearing that quickly would be unusual.

He notes, there are concerns an El Nino could add more heat to an already warming climate, which would be foul news for Iowa, most of which remains in very dry or drought conditions.



The state is launching an ad campaign targeting children, teens and parents to educate them about the dangers of counterfeit pills and fentanyl. State Medical Director Dr. Robert Kruse says the two-fold messaging is designed to reach children as young as five years old, middle and high schoolers through YouTube and other mobile applications, as well as adults via Facebook and Instagram. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 50 times stronger than heroin, and he says it only takes two milligrams of fentanyl to be deadly. Kruse says it’s “essential” that parents talk with their kids about these potential killers. He says the fake prescription pills are easily accessible and sold through popular social media platforms. The campaign features a central Iowa couple whose 17-year-old son died of an overdose from counterfeit pills in 2021.



It’s officially tax season as the Internal Revenue Service is now accepting digital tax returns. Christopher Miller, the I-R-S spokesman for Iowa, says most Americans qualify to file their taxes online for free. Miller says each software provider in the Free File program sets up eligibility requirements, and the agency has a special tool online that will help you decide which to use. Miller says electronic filing of your taxes is the safest, easiest, fastest method to use, and it also means a speedier refund check, if you’re due one. He says Free File lets anyone who earned 73-thousand dollars or less in 2022 use brand-name tax software to file their taxes online for free. Learn more at I-R-S-dot-gov. This year’s tax filing deadline is April 18th.