Greetings to you all!
The Rebuild Iowa Commission has released its initial 45-day report, to the Governor and Legislative leaders. The report contains seven recommendations for immediate action and then several action steps under each recommendation. Neither the recommendations nor the action steps offer detailed specifics. Some of the recommendations are already underway. The Commission will release their final 120-day report later this fall. That report will deal with long-term issues. There is a review of the Rebuild Iowa Commission report in the PDF attachment.
Major General Ron Dardis, who chaired the commission, said the first priority is to take care of the people affected by the flooding – individually and collectively. They made no recommendation on calling a special session. The state is still waiting for two important decisions. The first is when FEMA determines if their funding will require a 10% Iowa match or a 25% state/local match. The second is whether Congress enacts legislation before they recess this fall providing additional disaster aid to Iowa.
Iowa is still waiting to receive the $85 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds that have already been allocated by the federal government. There is a federal process that involves a notice of intent to issue the funds, which is expected to be completed by the end of next week. Once the federal government completes the notice of intent process, Iowa will need to submit a plan for allocating those federal CDBG funds. The Governor's office expects to have a plan ready to go, once the federal notice of intent is received, and expects to quickly send the plan back to the feds for their review. The process includes an opportunity for public comment on the proposed state plan. Lt. Governor Judge said that the state plan for these CDBG funds will be primarily focused on housing needs- including home repair, homebuyer assistance, mortgage assistance and home buyouts. The plan will likely allocate the funds by formula to cities over 50,000, and to smaller communities, through regional councils of government (COG).
The $85 million allocation of CDBG funds is expected to be the first of several disaster supplemental allocations from Congress to states that experienced flood damage. How those subsequent allocations will be divided among flood-damaged states is unclear at this point; the potential that other states might be putting up a bigger fuss to get a bigger cut of those subsequent allocations is very possible. In addition to the $85 million CDBG allocation, the Department of Economic Development is working to identify $15 million, to target toward small business assistance in disaster areas. These are funds that DED already has; it's not a federal supplemental allocation.
If you know of any high school juniors and seniors who might be interested in the 2009 House page program, now is the time to apply. The Iowa House will be taking page applications until Friday, October 3. Students can also access page applications and additional information about the page program on-line at www.legis.state.ia.us/PageInfo. This is truly an awesome experience for a student to consider
The Iowa Renewable Energy Association's Energy & Sustainability EXPO will be at the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education (CEEE) on Sept. 13-14, 2008. The I-Renew EXPO includes workshops and exhibits on renewable energy (wind, solar, biofuels), energy efficiency, green building, alternative transportation topics, and this year we’re adding Sustainable Living to our offerings. The goal this year is to exceed last year's attendance level of nearly 1,500. Here is the link to the CEEE. http://www.uni.edu/ceee/