On November 9th, 2021, St. Gabriel Communications, 88.5 mhz, Adel, IA, filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission for authority to construct a new noncommercial educational FM broadcast station to operate on 89.9 mhz, at Mason City, IA. Members of the public wishing to view this application or obtain information about how to file comments and petitions on the application can visit https://enterpriseefiling.fcc.gov/dataentry/views/public/nceDraftCopy?displayType=html&appKey=25076f917ce2e04b017d002e8c140a22&id=25076f917ce2e04b017d002e8c140a22&goBack=N#sect-chanFacility

On November 9th, 2021, St. Gabriel Communications, 88.5 FM, Adel, IA, filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission for authority to construct a new noncommercial educational FM broadcast station to operate on 89.9 FM, at Spencer, IA. Members of the public wishing to view this application or obtain information about how to file comments and petitions on the application can visit https://enterpriseefiling.fcc.gov/dataentry/views/public/nceDraftCopy?displayType=html&appKey=25076f917ce2e04b017ce708493e0cfb&id=25076f917ce2e04b017ce708493e0cfb&goBack=N
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Special session looms due to budget shortfall, Steckman says

This news story was published on July 23, 2017.
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The following is a legislative update from Rep. Sharon Steckman of Mason City –

Budget Shortfall May Force Special Session

The state fiscal year closed on June 30th with an estimated $104 million budget shortfall which could result in lawmakers being called back for a special session later this year.

The final number of the shortfall will not be known until the state closes the books on the fiscal year 2017 (FY 17) budget in late September. If the shortfall is more than $50 million, lawmakers will have to return to Des Moines for a special session to cover the shortfall with money from Iowa’s reserve funds. It would be the second time Republican lawmakers and Gov. Reynolds scooped money from the reserve funds to pay the state’s bills this year.

With the total budget shortfall reaching $350 million this year, the looming question is whether the Legislature will be forced to scale back the budget for this year as well (FY 18). The Republicans have the choice of making decisions early on to change appropriations for things such as tax credits, or waiting until January when it’s too late to make changes and the only option is to take money from reserve funds.

Many state agencies are already making cutbacks this year because they received status quo or a decrease in state funding. The result of those budget choices involve some of Iowa’s most vulnerable populations; correctional officers are getting hurt on the job because of under-staffed prisons; students paying higher tuition; fewer at-risk kids are attending preschool; and homeowners paying higher property taxes.

Many lawmakers have expressed concern with the GOP budget decisions noting they’ve chosen not to address the runaway cost of tax credits and tax breaks to out-of-state companies that are the source of the state’s budget troubles and have put Iowa into an unsustainable budget cycle.

3,000 Iowans Lose Overtime Pay

3,000 Iowans will no longer be paid overtime due to actions taken by Republican lawmakers last session.

Many of the employees impacted by this change are nurses at state institutions. Nurses are often scheduled for mandatory overtime to ensure that necessary staffing levels are met and patients receive the best care possible. If nurses leave their shifts prior to their replacement, they lose their licenses. It’s likely that other workers, such as social workers and corrections officers, will also lose overtime pay.

During the 2017 legislative session, Republican leaders rushed through House File 291 and effectively ended overtime pay for Iowa workers including nurses, correctional officers, and other state employees. As a result of the legislation, workers no longer have an opportunity to negotiate any overtime pay or workplace protections.

Many lawmakers opposed the changes approved last session because they believe law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, and other Iowa workers deserve a voice and fairness in their own workplace.

Budget Cuts Hit Forestry & Trails

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that it will cut several programs due to a budget shortfall. The cuts include eliminating the Trails Crew Program and all employees; ending the AmeriCorps volunteer program; and eliminating the Bureau Chief of the Forestry Bureau. The DNR budget was cut over $1 million this year by the Republican led Legislature.

The Trails Crew Program worked with AmeriCorps volunteers to restore and maintain trails in Iowa state parks. The crews would build trails and trail structures, such as bridges and staircases, while often living in the parks in tents while completing the work. The program also restores native ecosystems and prairies and provides disaster relief work.

The Forestry Bureau manages state forests and works with urban and private forests. The director of the bureau was eliminated and the duties of the bureau will be moved to the Parks Bureau, Wildlife Bureau, or the Conservation and Recreation Division of the department. The DNR stated the cuts were purely budget driven and that it is unclear if the department will be able to be competitive in applying for federal grants.

Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp said, “We’ve got to quit telling people they won’t see a reduction in services because it’s going to give the idea that those (eliminated) positions weren’t necessary. Yes, it’s going to cause a reduction in services.”

In addition to these cuts, the Department also eliminated the Animal Feeding Operations Coordinator, meaning the Field Services will now handle all animal feeding operation coordination; eliminated the State Geologist and transferred duties to the University of Iowa; eliminated the Art Director of the Iowa Outdoors magazine; and eliminated the Safety Manager position for the Department.

Health Insurance Plan Public Hearings

Due to the withdrawal of Aetna and Wellmark from the health care marketplace, the Iowa Insurance Division (IID) has requested a federal waiver to establish a short-term stop-gap health care plan structure to ensure there is at least one option to cover the 72,000 Iowans who will lose individual insurance coverage if there is no option for 2018. The plan will be outside of the current marketplace.

The plan structure will maintain all of the essential benefit requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act as well as Iowa’s insurance coverage mandates, and gives premium assistance to enrollees and subsidies to insurers to help cover individuals with high claims. However, the proposal significantly increases premiums for individual plans by an average of 43% and some Iowans would see their premium increase by 300% to get the same coverage.

As part of the waiver process, the IID must gather public input on the proposal. A person may submit comments online at: https://comment.iowa.gov. In addition, there are a series of public hearings. The remaining public hearings are scheduled for the following:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017; 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Des Moines Central Public Library, Central Library Meeting Room
1000 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, 50309

Thursday, August 10, 2017; 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Cedar Rapids Public Library, Beems A/B Room
450 5th Avenue SW, Cedar Rapids, 52401

Many have expressed concern that the new proposal does more to subsidize insurance companies than keep premiums affordable for Iowans. If the proposal is not approved by the federal government, one small insurance company, Medica, announced recently it’s taking the first step to staying in the individual insurance market in Iowa but said it requires a 43% increase in premiums. More information on the IID’s plan structure can be found: https://iid.iowa.gov/documents/iowa-stopgap-measure.

Report Indicates the Need for Quality Affordable Early Childcare

Yet another report has shown the need for quality early childcare in the importance of child development and preparing them for Kindergarten and beyond. The latest report has been released by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce.

The “Workforce of Today, Workforce for Tomorrow” report (www.uschamberfoundation.org/sites/default/files/Workforce%20of%20Today%2C%20Workforce%20of%20Tomorrow%20Report.pdf) indicates that in the US almost 40% of women with an infant under a year old are employed full time. Almost 11 million children under 5 are in non-parental care for an average of 33 hours a week, and have received often 10 times more hours in childcare than a year of full-day preschool before they enter kindergarten.

While childcare is a necessary support for working parents, it also has a critical impact on children during the most important phase of human development. Very young children are continuously and rapidly learning, forming intellectual ability, emotional well-being, and social functioning.

As a business based report, it makes the case that advancing high-quality affordable childcare will strengthen our workforce. Without a foundation of social and education skill sets, a child’s later education and training are substantially reduced, and according to the report, many would enter the workforce if they could provide quality affordable care for their child.

Iowa’s Unique Redistricting Process

Every ten years after the federal census, legislative maps across the country are redrawn to reflect the change in population. There are different processes on the creation of legislative maps throughout the country, but in most states the state legislature is completely responsible for the drawing legislative and congressional districts. Other states have commissions that are made up of appointed members from in and outside of the legislature.

Iowa has a completely unique way of determining what legislative and congressional districts will look like after the census is complete. Unlike other states, Iowa does not use any political or election data while drawing their maps and the maps are drawn by nonpartisan legislative staff. Once the maps are drawn and presented, the legislature votes on the new districts.

Earlier this summer the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could change the way legislative maps are drawn across the country. The case originates from the state of Wisconsin and could decide if legislative or political maps that are stacked in favor of one political party violate the voting rights of citizens of the state. A decision from the court is expected to be made in late 2017 or in 2018.

Education Secretary DeVos Sued for Protecting Predatory Schools

Just a few months into leading the US Department of Education, Secretary DeVos finds herself in hot water by delaying rules that would guard students and taxpayers from abuse by predatory for-profit schools. Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller has joined 18 other state attorney generals in a lawsuit against the secretary for delaying the rules that were set to take effect on July 1.

The rules would have forbidden schools from forcing students to sign agreements that waive their right to sue. Defrauded students would have faced a quicker path to get their loans erased, and schools, not taxpayers, could have been held responsible for the costs. A final version of the rules was announced last fall after nearly two years of negotiations by the Obama administration with for-profit schools.

The attorneys contend that the department under DeVos, delayed the rule without a public deliberative process to solicit and receive comments from stakeholders or the public. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the department’s delay unlawful and to order the department to implement the rule.

The original rule was developed after the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain shut down in 2015 amid allegations of misconduct. Students then sought to get their loans forgiven. The attorneys general said that the measures are meant to protect students, their families and tax payers.

“When students and families are cheated out of an education and taxpayers foot the bill, everybody loses,” they claimed. Before appointing DeVos to lead the US Department of Education, President Trump settled a fraud lawsuit for $25 million to avoid a trial in regards to his Trump University that was accused of essentially a bait-and-switch scam.

Small Cut in Available Deer Tags Announced by DNR

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced that there would be a small reduction in the number of deer tags sold to the public in order to maintain the deer population and to help combat the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) among the wild herd.

According to the DNR, there will be a net decrease of 2,425 tags available in the 2017-2018 hunting season, but nearly 10,000 tags in the 2016 hunting season were never claimed, therefore making the reduction less than last year’s surplus.

The DNR will also be strategically increasing or decreasing the number of tags sold in each county from the 2016 numbers based on the shifting herd population across the state.

The spread of Chronic Wasting Disease was also taken into account when allocating tags to each county. CWD is a neurological disease that is spread by the sharing of body fluids, both direct and indirect contact, and is fatal to all deer that contract it. Allamakee and Clayton counties both have increases in the amount of tags sold due to the detection of CWD within their borders.

For more information regarding the distribution of hunting tags and the spread of CWD, please visit http://www.iowadnr.gov.

Iowa Receives Federal Grant to Link Education and Workforce Data

Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) was recently awarded nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to perform analysis on Iowa’s postsecondary education and workforce outcomes. Iowa was one of six states awarded a federal Workforce Data Quality Initiative grant, along with Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Missouri.

During the three-year grant period, the Iowa Department of Education and IWD will partner in the development of a web-based community college data system to match education records with employment outcomes. This expanded capability will improve data integrity and allow for a more comprehensive analysis of workforce and education program effectiveness.

It will also help Iowa answer important policy questions about the preparedness of Iowa’s K-12 students for education and training after high school, postsecondary enrollment, the need for remediation, and the completion of postsecondary programs. The analysis will also help in the Iowa’s Future Ready Iowa goal of having 70% of Iowans in the workforce with education or training beyond high school by 2025.

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15 Responses to Special session looms due to budget shortfall, Steckman says

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 25, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Commercial tax breaks were only given to small businesses -50 employess or less – Not like the one you are working for and fleecing the private sector to pay your T I F racket and extort money from us.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      July 25, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Incorrect, genius. All commercial property in Iowa is receiving a graduated roll back on their assessments (this is the biggest reason Iowa’s budget is currently a complete dumpster fire). Small businesses also receive a tax credit in addition to the rollback on the assessment.

      Seriously, how can you dullards have such strong opinions on topics you clearly have a very poor understanding of?!?!?! I suggest that you enroll at a community college and take a couple of finance classes rather than getting your ‘education’ from conservative talk radio.

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 24, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Commercial tax reduction was for small business owners – why should they be charged 100% more on their property than any other property – you must be a farmer – you know – the rich/subsidized who have your cronies in the Iowa senate – your property taxes are based yearly on your level of income for that year – what? if you have a loss you pay no property taxes ? How sweet it is – and now days your monthly subside is direct deposited into your sweet bank account thanks to many small commercial business who finally received a small tax break – brrrrr! you won’t have to fire up that $500,000 Weinerbager because it not that cold in Arizona during the winter.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      July 24, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      ????? I don’t think anyone is deserving of a tax break. It’s part of the deal when you live in civilized society – everyone pays their share for their the public goods a society provides.

      The Branstad commercial property tax reform has been a utter disaster. It disproportionately benefits out of state corporations (Walmart, target, Wells Fargo, etc) and does not spur economic development like the Branstad regime erroneously assumed it would.

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 24, 2017 at 9:59 am

    How about the 40+ million dollar grant the state is giving to Alliant Energy for a pipeline in wortth and mitchell counties -the tapayers of these 2 counties don’t want to dig up the extra 50 million dollars for the free giveaway to this big corporation either. Subsides/welfare/public servant sector/grants to corporation – gee! I wonder why were broke – money transferred from the wealth producers to the non wealth producers could be the common sense answer but you political correctness BS lets you off the hook -or so you think.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      July 24, 2017 at 8:06 pm

      Let’s think about this another way…Do you own/purchase stock in companies? Would you invest your money with a business that is hoarding cash and not paying dividends and/or not using their cash to improve future revenues?

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 24, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Short falls have occured because of the transfer of funds in the General Fund to the public sector fund – such as the 40 million dollars Iowa received from the tobacco settelment – this money was transferred to the educational fund for raises and benefits – I don’t see where any of it went to the people with tobacco related problems ?

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      July 24, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Your omitting the single biggest reason why we continue to have budget shortfalls..The commercial property tax reductions that Brandstad implemented under the guise that it would somehow spur economic development.

      Ironically, the day Culver left office, Iowa was ranked in the top 10 for economic development. We are now ranked 40-something.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        July 24, 2017 at 4:51 pm

        It appears to me the single biggest reason for the shortfall is that we’re spending more than we take in. That’s because
        Steckie and the crats want to give money to their teacher supporters and buds.

        • Anonymous Reply Report comment

          July 24, 2017 at 5:36 pm

          You are correct in that we are spending more than we took in, but it was the Republicans that did that.
          Couple that with:
          “Signed into law in 2013 by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, the largest tax cut in state history has gradually cost Iowa more than $400 million over several years”
          “A separate $300 million will hit Iowa’s main spending fund this budget year, and that cost is slated to be permanent for the years to come.”
          It wasn’t Education, it was Branstad & his cronies because dumb-asses like you voted for him & them

    • bodacious Reply Report comment

      July 24, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      I finally found where your $40 million to teacher raises came from – that was in 2002. It has nothing to do with the shortages we are experiencing today.

  5. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 23, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    It should be very concerning that, despite a robust national economy, Iowa has severe budget issues. Branstad has been a utter disaster for this state.

  6. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 23, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Let’s see we export corn/soybeans to the world and it seems that is not enough. So now we have state sponsored gambling, firework sales, and jails for revenue. Next up marijuana sales. Iowa ain’t what it use to be. To many hands in the cookie jar.

  7. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    July 23, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Dear Iowa legislature,
    The citizens of Mason City will gladly return the $10 million grant which we don’t want for the silly project that makes no sense to do