A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Wednesday, March 7, 2012:
NATIONAL AG DAY: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging Iowans celebrate National Ag Day March 8.
Total cash sales from Iowa farms have nearly doubled from $12.2 billion in 2002 to $23.2 billion in 2010. Estimates show agriculture sales from Iowa farms could be close to $30 billion in 2011. Corn (2.36 billion bushels, 172 bushels per acre, 19 percent of U.S. total) Soybeans (466 million bushels, 50.5 bushels per acres, 15 percent of U.S. total) Hogs (19.8 million on hand, 30 percent of U.S. total) Eggs (52.1 million layers, 14.5 billion eggs) Iowa is second nationally in overall agriculture export value with $7 billion in exports annually.
Also, Iowa is second nationally in red meat production, cash receipts, net farm income and overall agriculture export value of $7 billion. Iowa farmers are also in the top 10 nationally in turkey, dairy, beef, goat and lamb production.
The top five importers of Iowa agricultural, value added and manufactured goods are Canada, Mexico, Japan, China and Germany.
MEDICAL SCOPE OF TREATMENT: Gov. Terry Branstad on Wednesday signed House File 2165, a bill that sets parameters for the use of physician orders for scope of treatment (POST) in Iowa.
Backers say the POST form is intended for individuals who are frail and elderly or who have a chronic, critical medical condition or a terminal illness. The document contains medical orders which may be relied upon across medical settings that consolidate and summarize an individual’s preferences for life-sustaining treatments and interventions, and acts as a complement to – but does not supersede – any valid advance directive.
The legislation was an outgrowth of a two-year pilot project in Linn and Jones counties in developing and utilizing the uniform POST form. An advisory council recommended that the Legislature expand the adoption of the POST form statewide on July 1. H.F. 2165 includes language stating “this chapter shall not be construed to condone, authorize or approve mercy killing or euthanasia, or to permit any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end life other than to permit the natural process of dying.”
ALCOHOL COMPLIANCE TRAINING: The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) has announced that its Iowa Program for Alcohol Compliance Training (I-PACT) eLearning course is now available online. I-PACT can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week at I-PACT.com or through the ABD’s website at IowaABD.com, said division administrator Stephen Larson.
The alcohol compliance training is aimed at both on-and off-premises retail alcohol licensees. The content focuses on key identifying elements of the latest format of the Iowa driver’s license, but also includes information on the previous version of licenses and ID cards.
Larson said the overall goal of I-PACT is increased voluntary compliance with the state’s alcohol laws through education. The core objective of the program is to prevent illegal sales of alcohol by educating alcohol sellers and increasing awareness of changes in Iowa’s liquor laws. I-PACT covers the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, valid forms of identification, and how to spot altered and fake IDs. The program focuses on preventing underage sales and sales to intoxicated patrons. Participants will learn techniques for refusing the sale of alcohol with minimal confrontation. The training also includes regulations and tips for offsite delivery of alcohol. Violations for illegal sales of alcohol to minors include a $500 criminal fine to the clerk, as well as a $500 civil fine to the retail establishment for the first violation. Subsequent violations can result in higher fines, license suspension or even revocation. Minors under the age of 21 are also subject to fines and/or community service if found using, attempting to purchase, or in possession of alcohol products.
TOP TEACHERS: The state Department of Education is accepting nominations for the 2013 Teacher of the Year award. DOE officials say thousands of talented Iowa educators lead and inspire their students, but only one is chosen annually as the state’s top teacher. The deadline to nominate a teacher is April 2.
Nominations (forms at http://educateiowa.gov/) will be accepted from anyone — including students, parents, school administrators, colleagues, college faculty members and associations. The winner will be announced in August.
The Iowa Teacher of the Year award was established in 1958. The annual program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Educati
on through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature. Winners are chosen by a committee that includes representatives of the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa State Education Association, the School Administrators of Iowa, the Parent Teachers Association and the past year’s winner.
The 2012 Teacher of the Year is Charity Campbell, a physical education teacher at Norwalk Middle School. The Teacher of the Year serves as an ambassador to education and as a liaison to primary and secondary schools, higher education and organizations across the state.
HEALTHY FOOD: The state Department on Aging is promoting healthy food choices for older Iowans and their families this month. Department Director Donna Harvey said her agency’s Nutrition Program for Older Iowans provides nutritious congregate and home delivered meals helping promote good health and needed socialization for folks age 60 and older. Last year the program provided over 2.9 million meals to more than 54,000 older Iowans through local Area Agencies on Aging.
The most recent USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an increased focus on a plant-based diet. This combined with including lean meats, fish and poultry, and low-fat milk and dairy products creates the foundation for a healthful eating plan, she said. For more information on Iowa’s Nutrition Program for Older Iowans, go to http://www.aging.iowa.gov/living/nutrition.html or call 1-800-532-3213. To find out about nutrition programs available in local communities, contact Iowa’s Area Agencies on Aging at 1-866-468-7887 or log onto the www.i4a.org
POETRY CHAMP: Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs officials say Gwen Morrison of Marshalltown High School is this year’s Poetry Out Loud champion. In claiming the 2012 top prize, Morrison received $200 and her school will receive $500 to purchase poetry books. Morrison also received a trip to Washington in May to represent Iowa at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals — where $50,000 in college scholarships and school prizes will be awarded.
Morrison performed Insomnia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Blackstone Rangers by Gwendolyn Brooks and Preludes by T.S. Elliot to earn this year’s victory. She finished third last year and was runner-up in 2010.
More than 1,500 Iowa students competed at classroom and school levels this year, and more than 365,000 students across the country competed in the program last year. Coordinated in Iowa by the Iowa Arts Council, Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide program created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation as a pilot project in 2005.
Quote of the Day: “At the risk of sounding like a skunk at a wedding, on behalf of Petroleum Marketers, we do oppose an increase in the gas tax.” — Kellie Paschke, a lobbyist for the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa, testifying to a Senate Ways and Means subcommittee considering legislation to increase the state gas tax by 10 cents a gallon by Jan. 1, 2014.
–Compiled by the Des Moines Bureau