KXEL Morning News for Tue. Jan. 12, 2021

KXEL Morning News for Tue. Jan. 12, 2021

Iowa lawmakers have begun their 2021 legislative session. Republicans, who hold clear majorities in both the House and Senate, chose not to mandate masks or require that members disclose if they have been infected by the virus. Meanwhile, more than 200 unmasked people opposing mask mandates protested in the rotunda before lawmakers began the session. They chanted “freedom” and many held signs that said “coercion is not consent,” and “mandates belong in socialist countries.” 

As for actual business this session, the agenda could include efforts to reduce taxes, changes to voting rules, expansion of gun rights and requiring in-school attendance. Republicans see the most recent election, where they increased their numbers, as affirmation that voters support the conservative actions they have taken since winning majority in both chambers of the Legislature in 2016.

Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her annual Condition of the State message tonight; you can hear a replay of it, in its entirety, in the 10 o’clock hour of KXEL Live & Local tomorrow.

After a long stretch of relatively paltry prizes, U.S. lottery players now have a choice of jackpots that offer combined prizes of more than $1 billion. The jackpot for Mega Millions’ Tuesday night drawing has climbed to $615 million, and the top prize in the Powerball game has reached $550 million ahead of Wednesday’s drawing. It has been nearly two years since the two national lottery games offered such giant prizes and only the second time both jackpots have topped $500 million. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 292.2 million and one in 302.5 million for Mega Millions. 

Vaccines for the novel coronavirus have reached just over 85,000 people so far in Iowa, according to new state data released on Monday. The Iowa Department of Public Health said that 85,382 people had their two-dose vaccine series initiated…of those, 5,652 people had their two-vaccine course completed. The top five counties by total doses administered to residents are Polk (12,656), Johnson (9,411), Linn (6,797), Scott (3,580), and Dubuque (3,073). Linn County has the largest number of people with a completed vaccine series at 1,416, closely followed by Polk (1,410).

A man accused of murdering his son has been found not guilty by reason of insanity. 60-year-old Daniel Niebuhr of Fairbank was charged with 1st degree murder after shooting his son, Brock Niebuhr, in the back of the head on March 22, 2019. A judge ruled Monday that Niebuhr had been insane when he shot his son. The ruling of not guilty by reason of insanity means Niebuhr will be held at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale until it is determined he is no longer a danger to himself or others.

Officials say three people have died following a police chase in central Iowa that reached speeds of more than 100 mph. Police in the Des Moines suburb of Clive say it ash happened early Monday, after officers attempted to stop a stolen car suspected in an earlier theft case in nearby Urbandale. Police say the car refused to stop, sped away and launched into the air as it crossed railroad tracks – flipping several times and hitting a utility pole and creek bank. Police found five young males, several of who were ejected from the car. Police say three died from their injuries and two were taken to hospitals. 

Police in west-central Iowa say a 14-year-old girl stole a police car, then led officers on a chase that topped 110 mph at times Sunday afternoon. It started in Coon Rapids, when the girl jumped behind the wheel of a Coon Rapids police car and took off. A chase ensued, involving officers from Coon Rapids, Perry, and Dallas, Guthrie and Greene counties. The Iowa State Patrol says officers eventually used tire-puncturing strips to disable and stop the stolen police car on Highway 141 near Perry. The girl was arrested on suspicion of first-degree theft, theft of firearms, eluding and several traffic violations.