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News update from Iowa Democrats, February 14, 2019

This news story was published on February 18, 2020.
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The following is a news update from Iowa Democrats:

School Funding Bill Delayed, Conflicts with Senate

House and Senate lawmakers have yet to resolve their differences on school funding for the upcoming school year.  During debate on Tuesday, House Democrats offered a plan this week to invest $133 million in public schools next year, but majority party lawmakers want to provide less.

School leaders across the state have said low state funding over the last decade isn’t keeping up with rising costs and hampers their ability to train the next generation of Iowa workers.  The proposals offered by majority party lawmakers does not keep pace with rising costs at schools and will lead to more school closings, higher class sizes, and fewer opportunities for students.

Iowans have always had great pride in our public schools. However, the state’s new investment in public schools has been the lowest in Iowa history over the last decade leading to the closure of 126 schools in Iowa. The low funding means public schools have been forced to increase class sizes and raise property taxes to make up for the shortfall in state funding.

House majority party lawmakers prefer a 2.5% increase in basic funding for schools while Senate majority party lawmakers want just 2.1%.  The bill, Senate File 2142, is now back in the Iowa Senate as lawmakers try to resolve their differences.

By state law, the Legislature is required to enact school funding within 30 days to give school districts the time and ability to meet their required schedules for their budget decisions.  The leaders of the current House and Senate will not be able to deliver school funding on-time this year as per the law.

Iowa National Guard Members to be Deployed Overseas

The Iowa Army National Guard Ironman Battalion will soon be deployed for Operation Spartan Shield, a United States Department of Defense operation in the Middle East. This Operation encompasses 27 countries including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Qatar. Around 550 soldiers from armories in Charles City, Davenport, Dubuque, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, Oelwein, and Waterloo are included in the deployment.  The primary mission for this group will be area security and force protection operations.

This is just the first wave of deployments, and by this time next year, Major General Corell indicates the Iowa National Guard will have more than 2,000 soldiers, nearly 30% of its force structure, deployed overseas serving in such locations as Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This is largest number of Iowa personnel deployed since 2011.  These mobilizations are expected to begin in May, and will be completed by early next year.

As Major General Corell stated in his Condition of the Guard speech, the Iowa National Guard is strong and ready to rise to any challenge the nation or state faces in the future.

Lawmakers Approve Transportation Funding for Schools

Local school districts were provided additional funds to help with rising transportation costs. The bi-partisan bill, SF 2164 which passed with only one no vote, will appropriate a total of $26 million to school districts across the state. As schools consolidate, the geographical sizes of many Iowa school districts have grown, which then spends a significant portion of their school aid dollars on transportation expenses.

The appropriation is an increase of $7.3 million compared to last year. The money is estimated to impact 204 school districts that are currently above the statewide average. The average payment to the district will be approximately $128,676 and a minimum payment of $1,137. The state currently pays an average pf $347.65 for transportation cost per student. The most a school district will get is $851,994.

The bill has now passed both the Senate and the House and will head to the Governor for a signature.

Iowa Energy Grants Opening Soon

Starting on February 20th, the Iowa Energy Center will be accepting applications for grants. Projects need to align with the mission of the Iowa Energy Center and at least one of the seven Iowa Energy Plan focus areas; technology-based research and development, workforce development, support for rural and underserved areas, biomass, natural gas expansion in underserved areas, electric grid modernization, and alternative fuel vehicles.

Projects must provide a benefit to either residential or commercial utility customers in the state. Grants can range in dollar amounts from $10,000-$1,000,000 and are funded by Iowa gas and electric utility companies. Businesses, colleges, universities, private nonprofit agencies, and foundations can apply for grants.

Applications open February 20th, for information on how to apply visit: Groups wanting more information about the Iowa Energy Center can visit:

Summer Internships Available for Future Ready Iowa

At risk youth will have an opportunity for internships in high demand career fields with the Future Ready Iowa Youth Intern Program. Non-profit groups, educational institutions, and employers are encouraged to apply for the grant, which has $250,000 to support internships.

Last year, 110 young Iowans were served by the Future Ready Internship Program, which is designed to last at least six weeks while developing skills in a high demand job. Money from the program can be used for internship wages, training resources, transportation of participants clothing, and indirect costs.

For more information about Future Ready Iowa visit

Livestock Master Matrix Adopted by 89 Counties

Eighty-nine of the state’s 99 counties have adopted the Master Matrix process for evaluating the construction permits of proposed animal confinement locations. Counties that adopt the Master Matrix are allowed more input into the siting of animal confinement operations in the state.

The deadline for enrolling in the Master Matrix program is January 31st of each year. The counties that will not use the matrix in 2020 are Davis, Des Moines, Keokuk, Lee, Mahaska, Osceola, Plymouth, Wapello, Warren, and Washington.

Counties that use the Master Matrix score each proposed qualifying animal confinement feeding operation based on standards established in state law. Participating counties may also visit a proposed confinement site along with the Department of Natural Resources. Master Matrix counties may recommend the DNR approve or deny a construction permit after scoring the application and can appeal a permit to the state Environmental Protection Commission.

The Master Matrix requirements generally applies to producers that are proposing a confinement feeding operation with at least 2,500 finishing hogs, 1,000 beef cattle, or 715 mature dairy cows. The master matrix requires producers to get a construction permit to build, expand, or modify a totally roofed facility.

A map of participating counties, and more information, can be found at on the master matrix page.

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