Gazette Daily News Briefing, September 17

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This is Stephen Schmidt from the Gazette digital news desk and I’m here with your update for Friday, September 17.

This has become a rare occurrence this summer, but there may be a bit of rain Friday afternoon. According to the National Weather Service there is a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the Cedar Rapids area, mostly between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. When it is not raining, it should be mostly sunny for much of the day, with a high near 80 degrees. On Friday night it will be mostly cloudy, with a low around 53 degrees.

A redistricting plan released Thursday would, among other things, make major changes to Iowa’s four congressional districts, including putting Linn and Johnson counties into a new 1st District.

Currently, Linn is in the 20-county 1st District that includes Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Waterloo and Marshalltown. And Johnson County is in the 24-county 2nd District.

At the state level, an early comparison of the proposed map with the current map suggests 61 of the 150 incumbent state lawmakers would be in a district with another incumbent.

Iowa legislators will meet in special session Oct. 5 to vote yes or no on the proposed map. If approved, the map goes to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her signature.

If not, the Legislative Services Agency will draw a second map subject to a yes-or-no vote without any changes. If lawmakers reject that map, a third map will be produced. It can be amended by the Legislature.

More and more school districts are implementing mask mandates this week. In a contentious meeting Thursday, the Linn-Mar school board voted to require students in prekindergarten through sixth grades to wear masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among students who do not yet have the option to be vaccinated.

The vote was 6-1, with school board member Rachel Wall voting no, stating she was in favor of requiring masks for all students through 12th grade.

School board members agreed that since students 12 and older are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19, they can continue to make their own choices about whether to wear a mask. A COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been approved for children under 12 years old.

According to the Associated Press, the Biden administration on Wednesday began notifying governors and state refugee coordinators across the country about how many Afghan evacuees from among the first group of nearly 37,000 arrivals are slated to be resettled in their states.

Iowa is expected to take 695 arrivals.

States with a historically large number of Afghans who resettled in the United States over the past 20 years — including California, Maryland, Texas and Virginia — again are welcoming a disproportionate number of evacuees, according to data analyzed by the AP.

A young male was shot at multiple times outside a church in southwest Cedar Rapids Wednesday.

A bullet hit a window at St. Ludmila Catholic Church, 211 21st Ave. SW, just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, but the young male was not injured, Cedar Rapids police said.

Two people got out of a vehicle near the church and fired several shots at the young male, who was walking on J Street SW, police said.

The shooters and the young male who was targeted left the area before officers arrived. None of those individuals have been identified, and police are investigating.

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