Home News KLEM News for Friday, February 10, 2023

KLEM News for Friday, February 10, 2023


The Iowa Legislature quickly passed an expansion of state supplemental aid to public schools this week. Iowa Rep. Tom Jeneary of Le Mars says the amount passed was higher than initially proposed.

The legislature has an early deadline to pass supplemental aid.

The three percent increase amounts to a total of 106 million dollars in supplemental aid, making total state aid to schools next year at 3.7 billion dollars.



Most Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate have voted to set limits on pain and suffering damages from medical malpractice lawsuits. The move has been one of the governor’s priorities.
Under the new guidelines, those non-economic damages for medical malpractice claims against hospitals would be limited to a maximum of two million dollars. For clinics, nursing homes and individual physicians the cap would be one million.
Representative Ann Meyer, a Republican from Fort Dodge who’s a nurse, says the cost of liability insurance is hurting recruitment and retention of doctors, particularly in rural areas.

The bill faced opposition from Democrats and 16 Republicans voted against it. Republican Representative Mark Cisneros of Muscatine says these aren’t frivolous lawsuits and more than 20 other states have similar caps that aren’t reducing medical malpractice insurance rates.

Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, says guardrails in the bill are necessary to prevent verdicts that can cause closures or bankruptcies for health care facilities.

Senator Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines who’s an attorney, says victims of medical malpractice who win verdicts have suffered horrifically.

Governor Reynolds says the bill is reasonable medical malpractice reform that will help Iowa’s health care system be more reasonable and accessible. Under the bill, economic losses and punitive damages for medical malpractice victims would remain unlimited. It also calls for creation of a task force to study medical errors.



The Orange City council has decided to keep next year’s tax levy at the current level. The level is 14 dollars 46 cents per thousand. The growth of the tax dollars this year is negative 1.66 percent. The council will hold their budget hearing on February 20.
Two infrastructure projects are coming up before the city council. There will be a public hearing on February 20, to take bids on the drilling of two test wells in the city’s Southwest Wellfield. Another public hearing, on March 20, is to consider replacing a transformer and distribution lines at the city’s West Substation.



Union Pacific repairmen have completed work on the 12th St SW crossing in Le Mars.  The intersection has been closed for nearly three months because of damage to the warning signals there.  The crew spent two days replacing damaged parts.  The intersection was reopened Thursday afternoon.  The railroad has indicated they want to meet with the city council about the incident, and discuss ways to avoid such an event again.



The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office this week arrested a Sioux County resident for outstanding warrants in Plymouth County.  Deputies conducted a warrant check at a residence in Westfield, Iowa. Upon completion of the check, a Stephanie Sue Hardy, age 32 of Hawarden, Iowa was placed under arrest for two valid arrest warrants out of Plymouth County, Iowa. Hardy was then transported to the Plymouth County Jail and additionally charged with violation of a no contact order and interference with official acts. The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Iowa State Patrol.



Sioux County Sheriff Jamie Van Voorst says several improvements are planned in services offered by the department.  These items were included in the new department budget.  These include a second school resource officer, as additional schools in the county have asked for that service.  Another deputy would be focused on training in mental health issues.  Another addition would be a therapy K9 to serve the mental health officer.  These items were approved by the Sioux County Board of Supervisors for the 2023-24 fiscal year.



Senator Joni Ernst says trained dogs should search every vehicle driving north through border crossings along the U-S/Mexico border — to stop the flow of fentanyl and other illegal drugs.

Ernst led a congressional delegation to the southern border this past weekend, with stops in California and New Mexico. Iowans Randy Feenstra and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who serve in the U.S. House, were part on the trip. The group went to Mexico City as well. Feenstra says the meeting with Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs focused on Mexico’s proposal to ban the import of genetically modified corn, starting in 2024.

Miller-Meeks says she found Mexican officials willing partners.

Miller-Meeks says adding canine units on both sites of the border makes sense, as it doesn’t cost as much or take up land like cameras and other monitoring devices.



Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird has joined a lawsuit that challenges a Biden Administration rule requiring registration of gun accessories known as pistol braces. The devices were first marketed in 2012 as a way to help people with a disability stabilize a pistol by attaching it to their forearm, but people also use the device to brace a gun against their shoulder. The Biden Administration has classified that configuration as a short-barreled rifle. It means pistol brace owners have to register the device and pay a 200 dollar registration fee. Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird says since pistol braces have been legal for a decade, millions of Americans who bought one legally will become a felon if they don’t know about the new rule and fail to register the device by May 31st. Iowa is joining two dozen other Republican-led states and the National Rifle Association in suing to try to block the Biden Administration policy on pistol braces.



Republicans in the Iowa House are proposing a change in a state law passed just two weeks ago. Under that new law, private school students whose parents get state-funded savings accounts are required to take all required state and federal tests. The bill would keep the requirement for the annual Iowa Statewide Assessment of Students Progress, but it would be up to a private school parent to decide if their child takes other tests to track their literacy skills. A lobbyist for the Iowa Association of Christian Schools says he’s pleasantly surprised by the rule change because many parents come to Christian schools because they like the way students are assessed. Opponents of the proposal say the literacy tests gauge a student’s progress in reading and comprehension and will give policymakers a chance to compare how public and private school students getting state support are progressing.