Well, here we are moving toward the end of August. The heat and humidity is a major issue for the schools starting up for the year. What people need to do to protect their loved ones is to stay hydrated and try to stay indoors as much as possible. We also need to protect our pets from getting overheated during these hot times. Please stay safe and hydrated!
In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:
Iowa Students head back to the Classroom.
Cuts to Food Assistance Hurts Iowa Families.
People over Politics.
Carbon Pipeline Public Hearing Scheduled.
Teacher Recruitment is Becoming More Difficult
Please share your comments!
Going forward, I will be listening and working closely with local leaders and community members, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’m available by email, phone, and social media, to answer questions and listen to your concerns. You can always reach me by email or call me at home at 319-266-9021. We can also stay connected through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I appreciate hearing from you and I thank you for your continued support.
Thank you for taking the time to read the Statehouse News. Please keep in touch!
Iowa Students Head Back to the Classroom Public Money is for Public Schools
As students and teachers head back to the classroom for the new school year, it’s essential that we take care of the 485,000 kids in public schools.
Unfortunately, public educators and schools continue to be a target of conservative lawmakers. As a result, Iowans will see a lot of changes this school year as many new laws take effect including private school vouchers, book bans, and new restrictions on teaching.
PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS: Pushed by Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican lawmakers, the new voucher law takes dollars away from public schools and gives them to private schools. The policy passed despite strong opposition from a majority of Iowans. This will not only reduce funding for public schools but will result in reduced services and resources in many rural districts as well. According to data released by the Reynolds Administration, 60% of students who have applied for the Republicans’ new voucher program are already in private schools. Many of them are from bigger cities including Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, giving the largest profits to many private schools in metro areas. In fact, 15 counties will receive nearly $100 million of the voucher money. During the legislative session the nonpartisan fiscal services estimated nonpublic school vouchers would cost $107 million in the first year and almost $1 billion over the next four years. Iowa taxpayers could now be footing the bill for as much as $221.6 million in K-12 private school costs in the 2023-24 school year alone.
BOOK BANS: School library book bans were at the forefront of the Republican agenda last session as special interest groups and right-wing lawmakers pushed to censor books. We are now seeing the result of the book bans with popular and classic novels preparing to be taken off the shelves. One Iowa school has made a list of nearly 400 books that are no longer allowed in classrooms and libraries, including literary classics like Catch-22, George Orwell’s 1984, The Color Purple, and The Catcher in the Rye.
RESTRICTED INSTRUCTION: Instead of working to protect kids and make Iowa a welcoming place for all, the Governor and Republican lawmakers passed several bills last session that take away the rights of parents and students. Two significant changes include: writing LGBTQ+ Iowans and families out of history and prohibiting students from using restrooms or pronouns that they identify with.
It’s time we refocus on taking care of Iowans instead of prioritizing for-profit companies and culture wars. It’s also imperative we ensure that the tireless commitment of our educators does not go unnoticed. Iowa children and teachers deserve to feel safe, respected, and supported.
Cuts to Food Assistance Hurts Iowa Families, Especially Kids
During the last legislative session, Republican lawmakers took food away from kids who need it most. This will lead to more kids going hungry throughout our state, all while Iowa food banks are struggling to fill the need in their communities.
Two recent studies from the Urban Institute show the potential impacts and precisely how severe these cuts will be for working families. The studies show that in 14 Iowa counties the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) currently only covers the cost of just one meal. These cuts by conservative lawmakers will now not even cover the cost of one meal for most Iowans who qualify for this service.
Other research from the Urban Institute shows that if all Iowans who were eligible for safety net programs in the state were able to sign up, there would be a significant decrease in overall poverty many Iowans are facing across all age gaps. It would reduce poverty by 3% for Iowa’s children and more than 2.5% for all people in the state.
The previous legislative session was devastating for so many Iowans, but many of Iowa’s kids will see the most significant hurt from the policies of Republican lawmakers.
People Over Politics: Reducing Costs, Creating Jobs, Rebuilding Infrastructure
Iowans are seeing huge benefits from several federal bills that have created new jobs, connected more homes to the internet, and lowered health care and prescription drug costs.
The bills were all part of President Biden’s plan to create good jobs here in America, rebuild our infrastructure, and lower costs for everyday families. While most of the bills were passed without support from GOP lawmakers, Iowa Republicans continue to tout these Iowa investments in their local communities because it’s making a difference.
Here are just a few of the key investments made here in Iowa:
$3 billion in Iowa’s public infrastructure, with 839 projects awarded to contractors in Iowa to improve our bridges and roads.
$235.9 million has been granted to provide clean water and improve water infrastructure.
$972.8 million to provide Iowa with affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. As a result, over 105,000 Iowans are saving $30-$75 per month on high-speed internet.
Extended Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance plan subsidies, which make plans more affordable for working and middle-class families.
Over 649,000 Iowa seniors and Medicare beneficiaries will save money on prescriptions due to the $2,000 yearly cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs and a $35 monthly cap on insulin.
$6 billion in funding to help agricultural producers avoid foreclosure.
Iowa House Democrats along with the President, will continue to put Iowans over politics and support policies that will lower everyday costs and improve our infrastructure.
This week, the Iowa Utilities Board’s public evidentiary hearing for Summit Carbon Solutions’ petition for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit will begin on August 22 at 10 a.m. in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The hearing will be available via live stream for those who are unable to attend. The hearing is anticipated to last several weeks.
Updates on the public hearing will be provided on the IUB’s webpage through a daily digest when the hearing is scheduled for the following day, and a weekly digest on Thursdays when the hearing continues the following week.
Summit is seeking a permit from the IUB to construct, operate, and maintain 687 miles of 6-to-24-inch diameter hazardous liquid pipeline for the transportation of liquid carbon dioxide through 29 counties. Summit Carbon is also requesting the right of eminent domain over approximately 973 parcels on the proposed pipeline route. Affected landowners will be able to participate in the hearing.
More Iowa News
FOOD STORAGE GRANTS FOR LOCAL FOOD PANTRIES: Food banks can now apply for food storage grants to accept more meat, dairy, and other similar products. The grants, from the Department of Natural Resources, are designed to expand the cold storage of foods that are recoverable by food banks and pantries. Grants can be used for shelving, refrigerators, walk-in freezers, or similar food storage. The Department of Natural Resources developed the grants to help address food waste across the state. Additional information on food waste and grant applications can be found at iowadnr.gov/Environmental-Protection/Land-Quality/Waste-Planning-Recycling#Food-Waste-116.
IOWA BIKE MAPS NOW AVAILABLE: The 2023-2024 Iowa Bicycle Map is now available online and in a paper version. The map shows paved bike trails, unpaved bike trails, bike lanes, side paths, and paved shoulders. Trailhead parking, restrooms, water fountains, bike rentals, and bike shops are also marked on the map. Paper maps are available at rest areas and can be ordered online. The online interactive map, downloadable version, and paper version order form can be found at: iowadot.gov/iowabikes.
TEACHER RECRUITMENT BECOMES MORE DIFFICULT: Iowa’s one-stop-shop for finding a teaching position has now been shut down. In the Legislature’s rush to consolidate services during the 2023 legislative session, one of the items that were cut was the Teach Iowa program. The program provided a website with a useful tool for teachers to find jobs in Iowa as well as school administrators to find teachers. This has since been replaced by relocating the teacher job search program under the Iowa Works website with all other Iowa job postings. Some of the problems encountered with this transition are that, unlike before, there is an inability to search for someone with the right credentials in a certain subject area. There have also been multiple issues in signing up and using the system. As people have complained to the Department of Education, it is no longer their system, which has created frustration. More information can be found at: educateiowa.gov/iowa-education-jobs.
WATCH FOR SCHOOL BUSES THIS SCHOOL YEAR: With the new school year starting, school buses will be out on the roads making stops and picking up students. All drivers must stop for school buses when their flashing lights are on and the side stop sign is out. Once the students are on the bus the driver will pull in the stop sign and drivers can proceed with caution. Drivers who pass a stopped school bus can face a fine and risk having their license suspended for 30 days.