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Legislative update from Rep. Sharon Steckman

This news story was published on August 27, 2016.
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From Rep. Sharon Steckman –

Sharon Steckman

Sharon Steckman

It’s hard to believe that all across Iowa students and teachers are back in the classroom. The cooler weather has helped us get in the mood, but it always seems like the summer flies by all too quickly! I would like to extend my wishes for a productive, rewarding year to all those involved in education in this state; students, teachers, administrators, support staff, volunteers, etc. This is always an exciting, hopeful time of year!

School Starting Soon Across Iowa

Iowa’s preK-12 students head back to school beginning August 23rd.

Unfortunately, many of the students will be feeling the impact from six years of the lowest school funding levels in Iowa history. Many schools have been forced to cut teachers, increase class size, and raise property taxes.

In Davenport, schools had to cut $5.5 million this year and it led to closing a school and a reduction of at least 24 teachers and staff. In Cedar Rapids, district officials will eliminate 12 high school teachers, and in Des Moines, 70 positions have been eliminated due to low basic funding for public schools.

According to the Iowa Department of Education, there are about 560,000 kids in Iowa public schools and the total number of school districts this year will drop from 336 school districts to 333 for this school year.

Class size in early grades has been proven in studies to have an effect on student achievement. The latest Condition of Education Report (2015) showed that Iowa’s average class size in grades K-3 increased slightly in those grades over the low funding years. Iowa has set a goal of 17 students or less in these grades, but the latest statewide averages for these grades are at 20 or 21.

Comparing Iowa’s funding nationally, a recent study by Governing magazine, shows Iowa ranks 27th in a state comparison (including Washington D.C.). The funding level ranks below the national average, and behind Midwest states of Illinois, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Iowa Alcohol Laws to be Reviewed

With the rise of craft beers and micro-distilleries in Iowa, state officials will be conducting a comprehensive review of Iowa’s alcohol laws.

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (EDA) will lead the study in conjunction with stakeholders. They will be looking at all three tiers of the alcoholic beverage industry.

Some of the topics to be discussed include the growing craft brewing and micro-distilleries industries.

According to the Brewers Association, craft breweries have a $636 million economic impact in Iowa and Iowa ranks 15th in country with 2.6 breweries per 100,000 adults of drinking age. The Iowa’s Brewers Guild has over 70 established or future breweries members that operate in the state. There are currently 11 micro-distilleries in the state with $6.5 million in revenue between 2013 and 2015.

The stakeholders hope to make changes to adapt to new consumer demands and make it easier to conduct business in the state. Iowa’s current alcohol laws have been in effect since 1934 and stakeholders have been urging changes to better adapt to current business practices. The taskforce will begin work immediately and hope to have legislative recommendations before the start of the next legislative session.

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6 Responses to Legislative update from Rep. Sharon Steckman

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 7:50 am

    I heard it takes 30 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of ethanol – Any input ?

    • Peter L Reply Report comment

      August 29, 2016 at 8:12 am

      I heard it takes 741 gallons of water to make 1 pound of beef – Any input?

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 29, 2016 at 8:15 am

      I have heard the same thing. There is no upside to ethanol. By the time it is made (using our food) which drives up prices, it creates more pollution and uses up natural resources, pollute the air with thermal pollution. If it wasn’t subsidized with our tax money it would have gone away long ago. It is only good for farmers to further subsidize their income.

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 29, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Anything new on the environmental impact of billions of precious Iowa water used to make ethanol gas? We have 8 permits in worth county area for 1,000,000 each – that’s 8 million gallons per day -(not everyone for gas) but statewide with all the ethanol plants this is a great concern along with hog lot/pesticide/herbicide contamination of our drinking water. Try and get a straight answer from the DNR -better yet try and get a water contamination test in iowa (costs 5,000 bucks if it has more than 2 ingredients (thats all the DNR local government uses in these not so reliable tests. Big business and as Clinton would say -Hey! lets be globelists and screw the American people . For a fee of course.

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    August 28, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    So Steckie, how do you feel about the $285K that Anita Micich took from the Mason City School District? What is the Dems solution to the education situation? Throw more money at it? What a joke!

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      August 29, 2016 at 7:47 am

      That is what they do best. They never clean their own house, just create more dirt.