The following is a news update from Iowa Democrats:
Iowans can rest easier knowing there will finally be investments in our future with the Infrastructure bill that was signed into law thanks to the leadership of President Biden and U.S. Congressional Democrats.
In the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the state of Iowa will receive $3.4 billion for highway projects and another $432 million for bridge replacement.
For far too long Republican lawmakers have spent big on short-term fixes while ignoring many of our modern economy’s long-term needs. With the passing of this legislation, we can finally look forward to investments in global competitiveness, modernization of our infrastructure, and more opportunities for working families to get ahead.
Here are a few more examples of how this legislation will directly benefit Iowans:
- The average driver in Iowa spends more than $300 every year to fix their car due to driving on roads in need of repair. Thanks to Democrats’ infrastructure deal, funding for the 403 miles of Iowa highway in poor condition will put cash back in Iowans’ pockets.
- Part of maintaining healthy infrastructure in the state is a strong investment in public transportation, and Iowa will receive $305 million to address public transportation options across the state.
- Iowa has needed major investments in flood prevention in vulnerable areas such as Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs. Additional dollars will help to address the backlog of storm resiliency and flood mitigation projects.
- As we saw during the pandemic, we have an urgent need to help students, families, and small businesses get access to affordable and accessible broadband. An additional $100 million in broadband funding will reach approximately 74,000 families who currently do not have access to the internet.
President Biden and Democratic lawmakers are truly investing in the people of Iowa by expanding internet access, reducing supply chain disruptions, and keeping our communities safe – all without raising taxes on the middle class while continuing to lead the way in job creation and historic investments.
COVID Vaccines Now Available to Children Age 5 and Up; Booster Shots Encouraged for Iowans
All children ages 5-11 are now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 pediatric vaccine.
The vaccine is over 90% effective at helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 in kids, and is an important tool to ending this pandemic. Now you can schedule a vaccine appointment through your child’s healthcare provider, local public health department, or pharmacy. Any parent with questions about the vaccine should speak to their child’s healthcare provider.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) approved the use of COVID-19 booster doses for the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The CDC allows patients and providers to mix and match dosing for booster shots if needed. This means, if you received the first two doses of the Moderna vaccine, you can get a Pfizer or a Johnson & Johnson booster and vice versa. Mix and matching is only allowed for the booster dose, not the initial doses. To find a vaccine provider, please visit: vaccinate.iowa.gov/providers.
Legislators Study Universities Enrollment and Course Offerings
Colleges and universities have seen enrollment decline in recent years all across Iowa, and nationally. Last week, legislators took time to study this issue more in depth, including enrollment and course offerings’ economic value.
The combined enrollment of Iowa universities’ this fall is 69,848 which is the lowest since 2007. This has been accelerated by COVID-19 and an over 50% drop in international student visas from the Trump Administration. All institutions did see increases in their freshman classes enrollment, but, the overall projected numbers have a decline in high school graduates choosing higher education.
Over the last several years, the cost of education after high school has increased dramatically, and parents are feeling the pinch.
Through a combination of savings, borrowing, and putting aside some of their current paychecks, a survey found parents are now footing about 54% of the bill for tuition, room, board and other expenses. That’s up 2% from the year before. Regent university presidents also mentioned they will continue to offer incoming freshmen financial assistance student debt education prior to starting their academic career.
Presidents from Iowa’s Regent universities also pointed out that their graduates have a medium income at $10,000 greater than a high school graduate.
House Democrats have continually advocated to make the cost of higher education more affordable for all Iowans.
Iowans Overwhelmingly Vote to Keep Union Representation
Teachers and city workers were among the Iowa public employee unions who overwhelmingly voted to recertify their local union.
Last month, 11,000 public education employees voted in favor of retaining their union representation, and more than 150 other union locals were recertified for the next round of contract negotiations. These units represent workers in school districts, law enforcement, cities, counties, area education agencies, and community colleges across Iowa.
After Republican lawmakers passed legislation in 2017 to take away the voice of Iowans in their own workplace and severely restrict public employee unions, this was the fifth time bargaining units overwhelmingly voted yes to recertification under new stringent regulations. Under the new regulations, the public employee union must hold a recertification election every year or two before bargaining a new contract and employees that do not participate are counted as “no” votes.
More Iowa News
APPLICATIONS NOW ACCEPTED FOR WINTER HOME HEATING ASSISTANCE:Iowans can now apply for financial heating assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP’s annual application period runs from November 1st through April 30th, and is based on household size and income. The LIHEAP program is designed to help low-income families meet the partial cost of home heating through a one-time payment made directly to the utility or heating fuel vendor. The Iowa Utilities Board urges all LIHEAP-certified customers and applicants to continue paying towards their energy bills through the winter to avoid accumulating high debt or face potential utility service disconnection in the spring. For additional information on eligibility requirements, please see: iub.iowa.gov/consumers/
DON’T FORGET TO GET YOUR FLU SHOT: Flu season has officially started in Iowa, and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is recommending Iowans get the flu vaccination soon, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic still happening across the state. You can receive both your flu shot and the COVID-19 booster at the same time. The flu vaccination can take up to two weeks to become effective. IDPH recommends that every Iowan over 6 months of age receive the flu vaccine. It is especially important for some people to be vaccinated against influenza because they are at higher risk of developing serious complications, like pneumonia, if they get sick with the flu. In addition, by being vaccinated, you will prevent spreading the flu to those around you. For more information about Iowa influenza tracking and monitoring, visit idph.iowa.gov/influenza.
WET OCTOBER IMPROVES STATEWIDE DROUGHT: October 2021 ranked as one of the 10 wettest Octobers on record. The state received nearly 5 inches of rain in the month, nearly double the average amount. According to Tim Hall, Hydrology Resources Coordinator, the soaking rainfall that the state received was exactly the kind of rainfall the state needed to avoid another drought next year. The U.S. Drought Monitor has now eliminated the Severe Drought rating from the entirety of the state, the first time since July 2020 that no portion of the state has experienced severe drought conditions. Streamflows and shallow groundwater reserves have also improved around the state. Because of the very dry conditions around the state there was very little flooding associated with the increased precipitation. Additional information on the status of water resources in the state, including the Water Summary Update, can be found at iowadnr.gov/Environmental-