Bob Kressig Newsletter December 16, 2022

Bob Kressig Newsletter
Greetings to you all,

Hopefully everyone is doing well and getting ready for Christmas, looking forward to spending time with family and friends. I know that the weather has been rainy and cold lately, but hopefully we’re on our way to a nice spring. Merry Christmas to you and your family and best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.

The legislative session will be starting on January 9th and please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with me.

In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:

  • Preparing for the New Year and the Legislative Session.
  • Public School Enrollment Down.
  • Ongoing Housing Crisis in Iowa.
  • Board asks the Iowa Utilities to Submit a Winter Preparedness Plan.
  • IPERS System in Iowa is Strong and Benefits the Economy.

Please share your comments with me.

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!


Upcoming Community Events

Dec 17 Jazz at the Black Hawk: Christmas Jazz with Mike Conrad & Friends 
Bar Winslow, 7:30pm, 319-260-4020

Dec 22 Holiday Hoopla: Reindeer Games
Cedar Falls Downtown District, 6pm, 319-277-0213

Dec 22 Holiday Hoopla: Santa’s Workshop and Trolley Rides
River Place Plaza, 6pm, 319-277-0213

Dec 22 Lori Line Christmas Concert
Oster Regent Theatre, 7pm, 952-474-1000

Dec 22 UNI Men’s Basketball vs St. Bonaventure
McLeod Center, 7pm, 319-273-4849

Dec 23-24 Hickory Hills Holiday Light Show
Hickory Hills Park, La Porte City, 6pm, 319-433-7275


Preparing for the New Year, New Legislative Session

With 2023 right around the corner, the Iowa House Democrats are gearing up for the start of the new legislative session, slated to begin on January 9th. House Democrats are welcoming 15 new members and priorities remain the same: We will continue to put people over politics.

For far too long politics have gotten in the way of making progress on the issues people care about including, lowering costs for everyday Iowans, investing in public schools, protecting reproductive freedoms, and legalizing marijuana for adult use. Iowans want to start the new year off right, and they want their elected leaders to listen and focus on what’s important to them.

Just like a New Year’s Resolution, this won’t be easy and the problems we face today won’t be fixed overnight. Iowans have every right to be skeptical and we may not agree every time, but we’re committed to listening and fighting for the Iowa values we all share.


Public School Enrollment Low According to Education Report

Public school K-12 enrollment has yet to bounce back to pre-pandemic numbers according to a new Iowa Condition of Education report released late last month.

The Iowa Department of Education (DE) has released the 2022 Annual Condition of Education report, stating that public school enrollment increased just slightly from 484,159 in the 2020-21 school year to 485,630 in the 2021-22 school year. The count for the current school year has not been released yet, and that number will be used to adjust state school aid funding during the upcoming legislative session.

The report also found that the minority student population increased to 26.8 percent during the 2021-22 school year, an all-time high. However, the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches decreased for the second year in a row.

A total of 6.6 percent of the students in 2021-22 were English Learner students, which represents an increase from the 2020-21 school year when only 6.3 percent of the students were English Learner students.

The Department of Education also reported that the number of teachers held steady at 38,020 in 2021-22. There was also a record number of students in grades 9-12 who took college courses for credit while in high school (concurrent enrollment) at 111,769.


An Ongoing Housing Crisis in Iowa

Iowa has a housing crisis that is increasingly getting worse. It is estimated that the state will need an additional 61,000 housing units by 2030, most of which will need to be affordable housing.  Wages have not kept up with the rising cost of housing and not enough new homes, especially starter homes, are being built. Forty percent of Iowans spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, making them housing cost-burdened. A person earning minimum wage cannot afford the average one-bedroom apartment anywhere in the state when working only 40 hours a week.

Thanks to President Biden and the American Rescue Plan, Iowa has received funds to help with our housing crisis. Twenty million dollars of those funds were awarded to organizations to build single family homes. Habitat for Humanity received funds to build 69 single family homes across the state. Six homes in Muscatine will be constructed using 3-D printers. The new homes in Muscatine will be for first time homebuyers with a specific focus on qualified first-time homebuyer teachers.

Additionally, the Iowa Finance Authority is trying to end the stigma on affordable housing. Iowans can show their support by pledging online at welcomehomeia.com. It is time to end the stigma on affordable housing and make sure every Iowan has a home.


Board Asks Iowa Utilities to Submit Winter Preparedness Plans

Late last month, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued an order requesting Iowa electric utilities to submit their plans for addressing potential electric service during the upcoming winter season. This request follows a November federal report indicating a large portion of the US bulk power system is at risk of insufficient electricity during peak winter conditions.

Under Iowa law, each corporate utility must have a plan to notify customers of an approaching demand on the day when this is likely to occur. These plans must include an explanation of what conditions will require a peak alert, general notice to the public, as well as messages that will be sent to the public.

The assessment’s prediction of possible need to reserve energy this winter raises IUB’s concerns for all utilities’ plans to ensure safe and adequate electric service if this occurs. As a result, the IUB intends to hold a technical conference so Iowa’s electric utilities may share their plans.

The technical conference will begin on December 19, 2022 at 1 p.m. in the IUB hearing room at 1375 E. Court Ave, Des Moines. Those wishing to participate in this conference must file a pleading on or before December 14, 2022, indicating whether they will be in person or virtual. Persons who just want to watch the technical conference do not need to file a pleading.

Individuals with disabilities who will require assistive services or devices to attend must contact the IUB at (515) 725-7300 at least 5 business days in advance to request arrangements.


IPERS System in Iowa is Strong, Benefits Economy

The retirement system that protects teachers, construction workers, public safety officers, and many more public employees continues to remain strong. According to the most recent annual report, the funded ratio of the system grew by more than 1%, making the system now nearly 90% funded.

The Iowa Public Employment Retirement System (IPERS) has seen the funding ratio increase by more than 5% since 2020. The system supports more than 380,000 Iowans by paying out more than $2.1 billion in 2022, helping grow Iowa’s economy, especially in rural areas of the state.

Strong pensions and retirement systems benefit all Iowans. A 2021 “Pensionomics” study by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that all Iowa pensions had a $3.5 billion economic impact in the state and accounted for 20,712 jobs supported. In 2018, according to the Iowa Coalition for Retirement Security, approximately $1.8 billion was put back in the pockets of Iowans in IPERS benefits, with 86% of benefits staying in the state.

As mentioned previously, pension payments also support 20,712 jobs in the state with a total income to residents at $963 million in wages and salaries. The payments also created $555.7 million in revenue and a total economic impact of $3.5 billion to the state of Iowa.


Other Iowa News

GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR FOOD BANKS TO EXPAND STORAGE: Grants are available for food banks, food pantries, and nonprofits to help expand food storage options. The grants allow these organizations to accept and offer a wider variety of food items. This can include meat, dairy, produce, including basic ingredients like butter and milk. The grants also help the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to achieve part of the department’s mission to reduce food waste in the state. According to the most recent waste study by the DNR, food waste accounted for nearly 20% of all of the material going to landfill.  Stakeholders with the DNR’s Sustainable Materials Management initiative have identified reducing food waste as a priority. In the last two years, 118 grants have been awarded around the state totaling almost $600,000.  The grants are funded with money from the state Solid Waste Alternatives Program.  Organizations can apply for the grants at any time.  For more information, see the “Food Waste” tab at: iowadnr.gov/Environmental-Protection/Land-Quality/Waste-Planning-Recycling.

SAFETY TIPS FOR WINTER DRIVING: Winter driving has arrived in Iowa and the Iowa Department of Transportation has some helpful tips to travel safely.  Winterize your vehicle by checking the vehicle’s wipers, hoses, battery, alternator, belts, tires, brakes, exhaust system, lights, fluid levels, and make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition. Put a winter survival kit in your vehicle including booster cables, a flashlight with fresh batteries, extra blankets and warm clothes, nonperishable food items, candles, matches, a can for melting snow for drinking water, and a snow shovel.  Wear your seat belt, slow down, and turn off cruise control when the roads are slick.  Before heading out on the road check 511ia.org for the latest road conditions.

STAYING HEALTHY THIS SEASON: It is now flu and respiratory infection season across the nation, and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services has provided practical tips to keep you and your family healthy during the upcoming holidays. These tips include: get vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19, staying home if you are sick, clean high touch areas, practice hand hygiene frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitizer and keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, especially with a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever. For more information about Iowa influenza tracking and monitoring, visit: idph.iowa.gov/influenza. For more information on how to find a COVID-19 booster near you, please visit: vaccines.gov/search/.

Leave a Reply