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News of the Day: Republican state senators advance bill that would prohibit state, local police from enforcing federal gun regulations

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Today's Headlines

2:40 p.m. - MidAmerican announces large renewable energy project

MidAmerican Energy has filed plans with the Iowa Utilities Board for a $3.9 billion renewable energy project.

Company spokesman Geoff Greenwood says the goal is to hit net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
“It includes wind projects, solar by 2024 — but we’d also like to study some new technologies for clean energy. And that includes, carbon capture, energy storage, and modular nuclear,” Greenwood says.

They are calling the project Wind PRIME and Greenwood says they would add more than 2,000 megawatts of wind generation and 50 megawatts of solar. The location of each has not yet been decided.
“It’s a little bit hard to say. We know what we would like to add right now in terms of additional wind and solar generation. What we don’t know yet is where we would have these projects,” Greenwood says. So, we know roughly how many more projects we need to add — but we don’t yet know exactly where we would add them.”

Greenwood says past projects were built with federal production tax credits — but the amount paid in tax credits is dropping and could lead to customers paying more. “It’s not as much as it used to be — it used to be 100 percent, and now it has gone down to 60 percent. So we expect that this will still be of value for our customers, but there likely will be a modest cost to our customers over the life of these project,” according to Greenwood. “But nonetheless, it is renewable energy and that is something that our residential and business customers are demanding more of.”

The wind and solar projects are the major part of the plan, while Greenwood says they want to explore other things like carbon capture. That would help reduce emissions for coal-fired energy plants.
“Our current plan calls for retiring our existing (coal) generating plants no later than 2049. So we are looking for a shorter-term carbon capture technology that may allow us to capture that carbon sooner rather than later,” he says.

He says they want to look at all the technology available and the does include the small modular nuclear generation. “We certainly have not decided to pursue this — but it is something that we think is worth exploring because it is an emissions-free technology. And it is something that can help us get to where we want to get and where our customers want us to get — which is NetZero greenhouse gas emissions,” Greenwood says.

The proposal has to go through the IUB process to get the plan approved. That will include public hearings and comments on the plan.

Entry via Radio Iowa

1:19 p.m. - Iowa health experts are concerned over sharp increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths

Health experts say they’re alarmed by an increasing number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Iowa.

Drug overdose deaths have hit record highs, topping 100,000 nationwide last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Experts say one reason is that more drugs are now laced with highly-potent fentanyl, sometimes unbeknownst to the person taking them.

Gerard Clancy is a professor of psychiatry and emergency medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He says nearly a third of UIHC’s ER visits are now related to psychiatric and addiction needs.

“It's important for people to understand that fentanyl is a different player. It is more dangerous. It is harder to work with as far as some of the treatment tools that we have.”

Clancy says mental and substance use disorders are treatable conditions, and he urges Iowans who are struggling to seek help.

10:25 a.m. – Iowa lawmaker reverses call for changes to eminent domain process

A key Iowa lawmaker has reversed his call for eminent domain changes related to carbon pipelines this year. This comes as three companies are proposing pipelines that would capture carbon dioxide from ethanol plants and carry it out of state to be stored underground.

Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton said last week he thinks at least 70 percent of landowners in a proposed pipeline’s path should have to agree before the company can ask state regulators to take land from those who don’t agree.

In a news release from Iowa House Republicans Wednesday, Kaufmann said he won’t pursue that policy this year.

He says “After careful thought, I have determined that now is not the right time to make changes in the current process, while two carbon capture pipeline projects have already signed up hundreds of willing landowner participants and continue to negotiate voluntary easements.”

8 a.m. – Iowans ask questions, share concerns about proposed carbon pipeline network

The Iowa Utilities Board held an informational meeting Wednesday night on a Texas company’s proposal to build a large carbon pipeline network.

Navigator CO2 Ventures’ pipeline would capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from ethanol and fertilizer plants in Iowa and other Midwest states.

No decision was made, but people came with questions and concerns.

Jessica Wiskus of Linn County says she’s concerned about the dangers if the pipeline ruptured. “You know and I know that our volunteer responders often can’t get to our farms in less than 30 minutes. And you know and I know that emergency vehicles won’t even be able to drive into a hotspot, because combustion engines don’t work when oxygen has been displaced by carbon dioxide.”

Kate Vilcher has farms in several of the counties that the pipeline would go through. She asked how the pipeline would benefit Iowa. “As far as I can see there’s 50 permanent Iowan jobs being created in this project, and to me, as a business owner that means very little in a state this size.”

A representative from Navigator noted that Iowa is the largest ethanol-producing state in the country. They said the project will help ethanol plants lower their carbon footprint and give them more marketplaces to sell their product.

Navigator has a few more county meetings. It can petition the Iowa Utilities Board for a permit 30 days after the last one.

Wednesday, January 19

3:16 p.m. – State senators advance ‘Second Amendment Preservation’ bill that would affect law enforcement

Iowa Republican senators have advanced a bill that would prohibit state and local police from enforcing federal gun regulations.

Republican Senator and Congressional candidate Zach Nunn, of Bondurant, sponsored what’s named the Second Amendment Preservation Act. He says it needs some changes, but it’s meant to send a message that Iowa won’t tolerate federal government overreach.

“We want to protect our law enforcement officers on the front line who are serving the community, but not deputize them as agents of a department or agency to go in and infringe upon Iowans’ second amendment constitutional rights and wait for the Supreme Court to make a decision.”

The bill says violations would result in a $50,000 fine for the city or law enforcement agency.

Gun control advocates say they’re against the bill because it could prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with federal agencies to combat gun trafficking.

A lobbyist for the Iowa County Attorneys Association says she is worried it could hurt efforts to take firearms from people convicted of domestic violence.

2:24 p.m. – Iowa Senate considers a bill that would keep cities, schools from adding to list of mandatory vaccines for children in school and child care

A bill advancing in the Iowa Senate would preempt local cities and school districts from adding to a list of required vaccines for children in school and child care.

If the bill passes, only the appointed members of the State Board of Health could add new vaccines to the list, which covers illnesses like whooping cough and polio but not COVID-19.

The Senate bill would also allow families to opt out of vaccine requirements for medical and religious reasons, even during a pandemic. Currently the Board of Health can decide that exemptions
will not apply in a public health emergency.

The bill was moved out of the Education committee to the full Senate.

2:20 p.m. – Nonpartisan Iowa organization calls on Republican lawmakers to return press to usual place in Senate chamber

The Iowa League of Women Voters held an event at the Statehouse Wednesday calling on Republican leaders to return members of the press to their usual place in the Senate chamber.

This year, reporters were moved out of the press benches on the Senate floor to an upstairs gallery.

League of Women Voters President Terese Grant says putting reporters farther away from lawmakers is harmful to government accountability.

“By limiting the access of the press to our legislators, this also limits the fundamental right for the citizens of Iowa to have a firsthand knowledge of the governmental process.”

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, has said one reason for moving reporters to the gallery is to avoid picking and choosing which outlets can use the limited space on the floor.

The Iowa House has created its own process to grant credentials for media members to use the press benches.

12:47 p.m. - Governor says she hopes state Senate President misspoke, corrects remark about teachers

Gov. Kim Reynolds says there are a few “bad actors” in any industry, but she disagrees with a general assessment that the media and Iowa teachers are pursuing a sinister agenda.

Iowa Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, used the phrase “sinister agenda” during his opening speech in the Iowa senate last week. “It has become increasingly evident that we live in a world in which many, including our media, wish to confuse, misguide and deceive us, calling good evil and evil good,” Chapman said. “…The attack on our children is no longer hidden…We have some teachers who are disguising sexually obscene material as desired subject matter and profess it as artistic and literary in value.”

Reynolds has proposed that when parents raise concerns about books they consider to be “X-rated,” administrators and school boards must respond within 30 days and, if they don’t, the state Board of Education will. The governor’s also distancing herself from Chapman’s remarks.

“I’m not going to take any ownership of that. I hope he just misspoke, and he’ll correct that,” Reynolds said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “But I think everything that I say, that I’ve said and done — not just said, but done — should let teachers know how much I appreciate (them) and especially appreciate them being in the classroom when so many other teachers across this country did not.”

Reynolds said there are individuals who hurt the reputation of many industries. “There’s bad politicians. There’s bad cops — every sector,” she said. “There’s bad media people.”

But Reynolds said she isn’t accusing teachers of having a “sinister agenda” and pointed to her support of teacher leadership and compensation program and the $1000 retention bonus for teachers she just announced last week.

“I’m the governor of the state of Iowa,” Reynolds said. “…I don’t hear anything in any of that that says I’m not grateful to the teachers.”

Democrats like state Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, say Chapman’s “hateful words” should be disavowed by all Republicans. Wahls said the governor should pledge to veto Chapman’s proposal to charge teachers and teacher librarians with a felony if certain books are used in class or are in the school library.

11:59 a.m. – Reynolds says she tested negative for coronavirus

Gov. Kim Reynolds says she tested negative for the coronavirus Wednesday morning, but isn’t fully recovered from an illness.

Last Thursday, her office announced her public events would be canceled through last week because Reynolds wasn’t feeling well. At the time, her office said she tested negative for the coronavirus.

Reynolds says she still has “a little bit of a cold.”

“It’s not COVID. I tested again this morning. So we’ll continue to monitor that, because a lot of the symptoms are the same. So we want to make sure that we’re safe, and it’s not that. And so I have a lot of grandkids, and I had a mom that had the flu at the nursing home that I was helping. So I think that’s probably the source of where I got it.”

Reynolds resumed her public event schedule Wednesday.

At least five people in the Iowa Legislature have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, according to a spokesperson for the House Democrats. Masks aren’t required at the Statehouse, and reporting a positive test isn’t mandatory.

11:14 a.m. - State reports 116 additional deaths, 38,574 new cases of COVID-19 over the last week

State health officials announced Wednesday that 991 Iowans are hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s an increase from 923 last week and marks the third week in a row hospitalizations have gone up.

The 14-day test positivity rate continues to increase. 24.8 percent – or nearly a quarter of all coronavirus tests – have tested positive in the past two weeks.

Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters Wednesday this increase is due to the highly-transmittable omicron variant. “I would go to the New York Times, and I would pull up the map of Iowa. It is solid red from one corner to the other. No matter what you do, or what's happening, the omicron has been – is very contagious and it is spreading. “

State officials confirmed an additional 116 deaths this past week, bringing the total death count to 8,317.

56.7 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Updated Wednesday 2:56 p.m.

10:59 a.m. – Midwest synagogues up security measures after Texas hostage situation

Temples throughout the Midwest are focusing on what they can do to ensure the safety of their communities with a new sense of urgency.

This comes after a gunman held people hostage in a Texas synagogue for ten hours. Sarah van Loon is the Midwest regional director for the American Jewish Committee. She says even though the event happened in Texas, it still hit close to home.

She encourages Midwest Jewish communities to implement all recommended safety precautions. “Being Jewish in America, unfortunately, is not the safest activity. There are, unfortunately, people out there who hate the Jews for no reason other than hatred.”

Van Loon says she encourages all states within her region to have working relationships with local law enforcement.

The American Jewish Committee is also working on implementing a federal taskforce to combat antisemitism across the country.

10:55 a.m. – UIHC CEO to step down in February

The CEO of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has announced he is stepping down next month.

Suresh Gunasekaran says he is leaving Iowa to take the top post at the University of California San Francisco Health.

Gunasekaran joined UIHC in November 2018. He will remain in his current position until the end of February.

UIHC says it will announce plans for an interim CEO soon. And it will conduct a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.

9 a.m. - Davenport library becomes Iowa’s first to hire social worker

The Davenport Public Library has become the first in Iowa to add a social worker to its staff.

The Davenport library hired Quinn O’Brian full-time in October, noting that some patrons sought information from librarians that reached well beyond what they’re trained to handle, the Quad-City Times reported.

“(We) see people from all walks of life come into the library — young families, low-income, high-income, elderly,” Davenport library community outreach supervisor Brittany Peacock said. “And all of those people have unique needs.”

O’Brian works to connect those residents to services such as housing, unemployment, child care and food assistance, substance abuse and mental health services. She had already helped about 80 people as of December.

The library hired O’Brian using federal pandemic relief grant money. The position is funded for three years, but library staff is hoping to convince the city to continue funding the position beyond that.

O’Brian has been a licensed social worker since 2011 and previously worked for Genesis Health System in Davenport. She said she had noticed people in the hospital setting who had social needs that were not being met, such as housing, employment and food assistance.

“I felt like that was a service that was really needed,” she said. “So when I saw this position, that is what I saw — another opportunity for people to be able to meet with a social worker and address those needs that they can’t find a proper setting of addressing.”

Entry via the Associated Press

Tuesday, January 18

4:20 p.m. - Some Iowa lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus

Two Democratic state senators have announced they are staying away from the Iowa Capitol this week because they have COVID-19.

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls of Coralville announced his positive test on Sunday, and Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, followed on Monday.

At least one person in the Iowa House has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email from its chief clerk.

A spokesperson for the House Democrats says in an email that five people in the Iowa Legislature have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 since Friday. It’s not clear how many of those are in the House and how many are in the Senate.

The Republican majority made it optional to report a positive case, and masks aren’t required in the Statehouse.

3:59 p.m. – Polk County drive-thru COVID testing sites closed Wednesday

Polk County officials have announced its COVID-19 drive-thru testing site will be closed Wednesday through Friday due to expected extreme cold temperatures.

The testing site at River Place opened this week to help alleviate the increase in demand for testing at local health care facilities.

Officials said last week they plan to open several other sites across the county.

The closure affects only the drive-thru site. Polk County residents can go to the county website for more testing site information.

3:28 p.m. - Iowa lawmaker proposes 4 bills to improve mental health and psychiatric resources in the state

A key Iowa lawmaker is proposing four bills that would increase the number of available mental health beds and try to keep more psychiatrists working in the state. The first bill advanced Tuesday.

“I had so many people standing at the doors, telling me 20 minute stories about loved ones that don’t have access to mental health services, that are living on the streets, that are in crisis constantly," says Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge. "So that really became — I really took that to heart.”

Meyer is proposing a state-funded program to train psychiatrists at state mental health facilities. That bill advanced with bipartisan support.

Dr. Gerry Clancy is a psychiatrist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He says he supports the bills.

“I can tell you from my firsthand experience that the need is great and getting worse. In the emergency room at the University of Iowa, we have gone from 10 percent of our visits to the ER to 30 percent of our visits to the ER being psychiatric.”

Meyer is also calling for a 50 percent increase in the number of beds at the two state mental health institutes, a psychiatrist loan repayment program and a new payment rate for hospitals to care for people with the highest level of mental health needs.

12:13 p.m. - On the campaign trail, Finkenauer takes aim at Grassley, calls for term limits in the U.S. Senate

Candidate for U.S. Senate Abby Finkenauer is calling for congressional term limits and pledging to serve just two terms if she’s elected in November.

The former one-term 1st District congresswoman from Cedar Rapids is one of four Democrats running in a primary in hopes to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Finkenauer is calling for a 12-year term limit for each chamber of Congress.

“You look at somebody like Sen. Grassley, who has been harping on term limits for almost the entire time he’s been in office but refuses to term-limit himself, this is what is wrong with Washington D.C.”

Grassley is running for an eighth term to represent Iowa and faces a primary challenge from state Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City. The other Democrats running are Mike Franken, Glenn Hurst and Bob Krause. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report forecasts the Iowa Senate race to be “solidly Republican” in 2022.

Finkenauer also says she’s in support of two voting rights bills before the U.S. Senate this week.

8 a.m. - Western Iowa towns are still recovering from 2019 floods

Western Iowa towns hit hard by the 2019 floods are still working toward recovery. The towns of Hamburg and Pacific Junction are awaiting levee certifications to move their communities forward.

As Hamburg puts the finishing touches on one levee, Cathy Crain is already focusing on how the small town can build another one.

Crain is the mayor. She says getting Hamburg out of the floodplain could transform its future.

“If we could do that, you have entirely changed a town and a county, because we would have far more possibilities.”

Both towns hope they can use some of the state’s allotted infrastructure funding to assist in recovery efforts. Crain estimates her own town still has over 70 projects to complete.

“What we’ve always said is we just wanted a fighting chance. This is a fighting chance.”

She says it’s most important to protect the town against future flood disasters.

8 a.m. - Iowa high school introduces brain health retreat room for students

Students at Dubuque School District’s high schools have a new resource to help address mental health needs.

Each high school now has a brain health retreat room. It’s an area where students who are feeling anxious, stressed or just having a bad day can go to recover and get help with coping skills from a mental health specialist.

Amy Unmacht is the executive director of the foundation for Dubuque Public Schools. She says the idea started last spring after school counselors reported being overwhelmed with students needing mental health help.

“These students were just being sent home because they were too anxious to go back to class, but there really was nothing, nowhere for them to go or not enough staff to help them.”

Unmacht says the room will also be used to screen for students who may need more extensive mental health support.

8 a.m. – Study shows that K-12 education influences whether college grads return to rural hometowns

While many researchers have studied what leads young people to leave rural areas, Iowa state researchers are focusing on what brings them back. A new study shows how K-12 school experiences impact whether college graduates move back to their rural roots.

The closer students felt to their high schools or teachers, the more likely they were to move back home after earning college degrees.

ISU researcher Stephanie Sowl calls that “brain gain.” She says the study shows investing in rural schools may be the key to fueling growth in small towns.

“You can create these opportunities for youth to be involved. So getting them invested early, and sending the message to them that yes, you can come back with your new skills, we can use you can fulfill leadership positions.”

The study also showed low population density to be a major factor. The smaller the town, the more likely participants were to return as adults.

Sowl says it shows the value of the tight-knit nature of many small communities.

8 a.m. - Improved 5G service won’t benefit everyone

Improved cellular service is coming to Midwest cities on Wednesday, as the nation’s two largest providers – AT&T and Verizon - expand 5G service. But the expansion won’t benefit everyone.

To make room for the faster 5G service, providers will shut down older 3G networks by the end of the year. That will affect earlier generations of cell phones, some medical-alert devices and car security systems.

Angela Siefer is the director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, a group that advocates for equal access to technology. She says the 5G rollout won’t help improve access in rural areas lacking the infrastructure.

“5G will not bridge the digital divide. I don't know if I could say it more specifically than that. 5G will not solve the digital divide.”

Verizon estimates that the majority of Americans with 5G compatible devices live in medium or large cities.

The new network won’t be available in some airports. The Federal Aviation Administration has warned the network may affect some aircraft instruments. Kansas City International Airport and St. Louis Lambert International Airport are among 50 airports that will limit what kind of 5G is available. The Des Moines Airport will not have a so-called “5G buffer zone.”

Entry via the Midwest Newsroom

Monday, January 18

11 a.m. - State reports 24.3% 14-day COVID test positivity rate

 6 a.m. – MLK choir to honor Dr. King’s legacy

Sioux City community members will gather Monday to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. in their own special way: through song. The annual MLK choir will sing in hopes of building solidarity and equity for diverse communities in the area.

From city leaders to students, everyone is invited to carry Dr. King’s legacy forward by carrying a tune.

Sandra Pearson will conduct the choir at Kingdom Ministries Church. Her family has helped carry on the event since it first began in 1982. She says the community uses the music to achieve healing – something she feels many are seeking right now.

“This country, in my opinion, has been divided on so many levels, and to keep pushing for unity and equality is so, so important. We don't want to ever stop fighting.”

Pearson hopes singing together can help the community reach the same harmony as the voices in the choir.

She says the music itself shows what the community can do when it comes together. “The choir is a great example of everyone having what fits them. But all having a voice to carry out one

The event will also feature speakers, dancing and a call for action for people to exercise their right to vote. Lee says she wants people to leave the church knowing their voice is important.

Friday, January 14

2:51 p.m. - Plows out as big winter storm enters state

Forecasters say Friday’s formidable winter storm promises to dump up to ten inches of snow across a wide section of Iowa by early this evening and the whipping winds could make travel very hazardous.

Craig Bargfrede, the Iowa DOT’s winter operations administrator, says if you can stay home, do. “We just want to advise the public to be cautious and really watch the weather,” Bargfrede says. “If you really don’t need to travel today, it really looks like one of those days where it might be best to postpone those plans.”

The storm is spreading across Iowa from the northwest to the southeast and the state’s big orange plows are working to keep the roads passable. “We’ve got somewhere around 250 plows out and about,” Bargfrede says. “I just anticipate that number is going to continually increase throughout the day as the storm moves across the state.”

Safety is the top priority, he says, for both the plow crews and the motorists, and there may come a point later today at which even the plows will have to be pulled off the roads.

The DOT has 101 maintenance garages statewide that employ more than 1,000 full-time equipment operators, mechanics, and supervisors. Those garages house the agency’s 902 trucks, 42 motor graders, and 32 tow plows. Brine solution has already been spread on many hundreds of miles of Iowa roads, but even with all of the preparation and technology, sometimes the plow crews have to surrender to the elements and pull off the road.

Keep up with road conditions at: 511ia.org

Entry via Radio Iowa

2:45 p.m. – New drive-thru testing sites to open in Polk County

Polk County has announced it will open additional COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites.

The first site will open Monday at Polk County Riverplace, but county officials did not specify where and when the other sites will open.

Polk County says the new sites are to help with the increase in demand for testing overwhelming county hospitals and clinics. They will offer both rapid and PCR tests.

Individuals will register on site and should bring their ID and insurance information. Those with COVID-19 symptoms or exposure will not be charged for the test.

2:21 p.m. – Rural hospital CEO says staffing shortages in large hospitals could have ripple effect

The CEO of a rural hospital in southern Iowa says his facility will follow a federal vaccine mandate for health care workers.

The Biden administration policy was upheld this week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mike Johnston of Decatur County Hospital in Leon said he’s not expecting many workers to leave because of it, but he said any additional staffing issues in large hospitals in places like Des Moines would have a ripple effect.

“That also limits our ability to transfer so our staff is having to take care of much more critical patients than they normally would, including patients on ventilators, ICU level care, things like that.”

Johnston was a guest on IPR’s River to River.

He said treating the latest surge of coronavirus patients is harder because there are also more non-COVID-19 hospitalizations. He said that’s in part due to people putting off care for chronic conditions during the pandemic.

1:28 p.m. – West Des Moines delays mask-optional plan as COVID cases surge in Iowa

As the coronavirus continues to surge across the state, the West Des Moines school district is putting off a plan to make masks optional for students and teachers.

The school board previously decided to stop requiring masks Jan. 18, but decided in a meeting Thursday to extend the current mandate for an additional month.

West Des Moines superintendent Lisa Remy told IPR’s River to River that the high infection rate in Polk County is reflected in the district’s own case counts.

“It’s still here and live here for us. Since winter break our numbers have about doubled.”

West Des Moines schools reported 285 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students and staff in the last week, ending Thursday.

11:40 a.m. - In Condition of the Guard Address, Adjutant General says Guard could lose members due to Pentagon vaccine mandate

Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Benjamin Corell said during the annual “Condition of the Guard” address that the Guard is going to lose some soldiers due to the Pentagon’s COVID vaccine mandate. Corell later told reporters for Radio Iowa and The Cedar Rapids Gazette that about 80% of the Iowa Army National Guard soldiers and Iowa Air National Guard airmen are fully vaccinated.

Airmen in the Iowa Air Guard faced a December deadline to get vaccinated. The deadline for soldiers in the Iowa Army National Guard is this summer. Some of the unvaccinated are seeking medical or religious exemptions, which must be approved the secretaries of the Army or Air Force.

Last year, 81% of Iowa Army National Guard soldiers who faced the decision reenlisted. The rate was higher among Iowa Air National Guard airmen, as 93% reenlisted. Soldiers and airmen sign an initial contract to serve eight years and then are given a choice to reenlist every eight years after that.

Also this week, Correll said that several Iowa National Guard units are likely to be called to active duty this year. Members would likely be deployed to Poland in support of NATO allies as fears rise about a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Reporting via Radio Iowa

10:58 a.m. - COVID hospitalizations, test positivity rates continue upward trend in Iowa

Iowa health officials reported Friday that COVID-19 hospitalizations and test positivity rates continue to trend upwards.

998 Iowans are currently hospitalized with the virus, an increase of 100 patients from a week ago. 174 of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are in the intensive care unit.

Officials are reporting the 14-day test positivity rate is at 23.5 percent. That’s up from 17.5 percent last Friday.

56 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.