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News update from Iowa Democrats, February 28, 2019


This news story was published on March 1, 2020.
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The following is a news update from Iowa Democrats:

Boosting Iowa’s Skilled Workforce & Creating Good Paying Jobs

While Iowa has low unemployment, too many Iowans aren’t making enough to keep up with the rising costs of health care, food, and housing.  Iowa also faces a significant skilled worker shortage that threatens the future growth of our economy.  By 2025, 68% of jobs in Iowa will require some training or education beyond high school but currently only 58% of our workforce has those skills.

Since small businesses represent 99% of all employers, lawmakers are working this year to target more state job creation incentives to help small businesses expand.  Other ideas being considered this year include encouraging more students to work in high demand jobs and supporting more parents who adopt children.

The three bills introduced this week to create good jobs and a skilled workforce include:

Expand Family Leave to Adoptive Parents – Give parents who are adopting the same access to family leave that other parents get

Forgivable Loans for High Demand Jobs – Iowans in high demand jobs would receive up to $12,000 in student loan forgiveness over two years

Loans for Small Businesses – In an effort to target more state job creating incentives to small business, Iowa small businesses with no more than 15 employees can receive a new low interest loan up to $50,000

To find out more about these bills go to https://iowahouse.org/jobs.

First Legislative Deadline Passes

Last week the legislature hit the first deadline, known as the “funnel”, which helps narrow down the number of bills eligible for debate as we approach adjournment in April.  This week, the Legislature spent more time on the House Floor sending bills over to the Senate as the next deadline looms in just a few weeks.

House Democrats are working on a number of bills this year that will improve the lives of everyday Iowans.  That means putting politics aside and working together on good-paying jobs, affordable and accessible health care, great schools, and revitalizing small towns and rural communities.

Here just a few highlights of other bi-partisan bills that lawmakers are working on this session:

•    Expanding hands free driving law to save lives (HF 2375/SF 2248)
•    Lifetime commercial driver’s license ban for individuals convicted of human trafficking (HF 2235/SF 2089)
•    Holding pharmacy benefit managers accountable (HSB 685)
•    Ending “cliff” effect for child care assistance program (HF 2424)
•    Capping insulin costs for Iowans at $100 per month (HF 2138)
•    Expanding access to tele-health care in rural areas (HF 2192)
•    Increasing Child Care Assistance rates (HF 2270)
•    Removing fees for veterans trying to claim benefits (HF 2236)
•    Raising minimum age for tobacco and vaping (SF 2268)
•    Protecting veterinarians who report animal abuse (HF 2374)
•    Extending renewable energy tax credits (HF 2279/SF 628)
•    Expanding firefighter/EMT/reserve police officer volunteer tax credit (HF 2280)
•    Restoring felon voting rights and improving security of elections (HSB 545)

The next legislative deadline is on March 20th.  The 2020 Legislative Session is scheduled to adjourn on April 21.


Bill Aims to Get More Iowa Students into Teaching Programs

Since 2012, Iowa has required students entering a teacher preparation program to pass an entrance exam on content knowledge. There have been concerns raised that standardized entrance exams are a barrier to applicants, and even greater concerns that the tests restrict the racial or ethnic diversity of the teacher candidates.

The Iowa House has now passed a bill that allows teacher preparation programs the option of having the Praxis I or other teaching entrance exams. If they choose to keep their entrance exam, they would have to report on the results.

There is a nationwide trend of fewer people going into teaching. Iowa is a part of that discouraging trend. In Iowa, since 2009, there has been a 38% drop in those enrolled in teacher preparation programs, and 11% drop in those completing programs according to the Department of Education.

There are several reasons why fewer people are getting into teaching. This includes, Iowa’s teacher pay ranking which is 20th in the country, as well as the elimination of collective bargaining rights. Low K-12 school funding has also increased class sizes that help create discipline issues, lowered course offerings, and has provided less supports for teachers. However, this bill is seen as a positive way to gain more teacher applicants that could enter the teaching profession.


Accurate Census Count Important for State Programs

Once every ten years, the nation counts the number of people living in the country. As the calendar turns to the year 2020, Iowa is gearing up for the upcoming effort through the U.S. Census Bureau. At the end of October, the state created the Complete Count Committee to increase awareness among Iowans about the importance of the census.

This past week an Iowa House Sub-Committee passed an appropriation to help counties with their count numbers. The money will go towards helping combat misinformation and stressing the importance of partaking in the census count.

It is important to get an accurate count as the population data helps determine how many seats Iowa has in the United States House of Representatives, as well as re-drawing boundaries for state lawmakers, county officials, and other local governments. Iowa is one of just two states nationally that uses a unique non-partisan redistricting process. After receiving the census data in early 2021, the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency will use the information to re-draw lines and make sure there is equal representation in the Iowa Legislature.

According to the US Census Bureau, billions of dollars in federal funds Iowa receives every year are also based off of census information. In 2016 alone, Iowa received $8.8 billion through 55 different federal programs that used data from the 2010 census, including Medicaid, student loans, housing, the nutrition assistance for kids, and special education grants.

Now Hiring Census Workers

The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting hundreds of people for temporary jobs across Iowa. Those interested can apply to be a temporary part-time position with the 2020 Census. The deadline for applications is March 9 and more information can be found at: https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.html.


House Committee Advances Bottle Bill Modernization

On a bi-partisan vote, an Iowa House Committee has approved a plan to modernize Iowa’s bottle bill.

Iowa’s bottle bill was passed in 1979 to reduce litter by recovering more beverage containers and to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. Iowa’s estimated recovery rate for beverage containers is 71%, compared to a national return rate under 30%.

The law requires a 5¢ deposit be paid by consumers when purchasing beer, soft drinks, wine, alcoholic liquor, mineral water, and soda water. The deposit is returned when the consumers return the empty containers.

This updated proposal of the bottle bill requires the dealer to pay a 1¢ handling fee per container to the distributor at the time of delivery. The legislation also increases the handling fee from 1¢ to 2¢ for a dealer, participating dealer, dealer agent, or redemption center to charge.

The proposal puts in place a ten-mile radius that a dealer or redemption center must be within, in order for a grocer to not take the cans.

The legislation now moves to the full House to be considered.


Memorial Day Camping in State Parks

Reservations for Memorial Day camping in state parks are now open. Campers can make reservations online and can be made up to three months in advance. Dates after Memorial Day will be available to reserve starting March 1. Prices for campsites range in price from $16 for an electric hookup site to $9 for a non-modern site. To find a list of state parks and reservations available, check out https://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go.

Iowa Parks Centennial Celebration

This year is the centennial celebration for Iowa’s state parks. Throughout the year there will be special celebrations at different parks. One of the special events is called 20 Artists, 20 Parks. The project is a collaboration between the Iowa Arts Council, the Department of Natural Resources, and Iowa State University (ISU).

Last summer twenty artists from ISU, both faculty members and graduate students, visited the state park they were assigned to in effort to get to know the park and gather inspiration. Over the last several months they have each created an art piece to represent their assigned park. Starting March 16, the collection will be traveling around the state. This summer several of the artists will go back to the parks to lead workshops.

For more information on 20 Artists, 20 Parks and to see the schedule for traveling exhibit go to https://iowaculture.gov/arts/get-involved/20-artists-20-parks?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

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4 Responses to News update from Iowa Democrats, February 28, 2019

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 2, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    If you want a democrat president get behind Bernie. He could win. But no! Amy backs Joe B. Dumb, dumber, dumbest. {Pete, Liz, Amy} So sad.

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 1, 2020 at 11:41 am

    If they really wanted to help small business, they would change the tax laws for businesses. Iowa ranks near the top of corporate tax %’s.
    Hmm, could this be part of why it takes so many “incentives” to entice companies into Iowa. When the “incentives” run out, they run.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      March 2, 2020 at 8:05 am

      Democrats never reduce taxes, they raise them.

  3. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 1, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Rot