Greetings to you all,

As we all prepare for celebrating the upcoming Christmas holidays, we are also moving forward to defeating the Coronavirus. With the vaccines becoming available soon, it offers us all some hope that we can get back to normal again. The federal government just notified the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) that Iowa would not receive the numbers of vaccines initially planned and it appears that it could be reduced by as much as 30%.

The legislature will start back up in session on January 11th with an in person session. There were some conversations to maybe consider starting up virtually, but it doesn’t sound like that will happen. I know that going forward, when I hear what the majority party plans to do during the session, I will let you all know.

The attached newsletter covers a lot of issues, including the Covid-19 vaccine distribution across the state and how it will occur, eviction and homeless prevention grants, how the state’s economy is slower than normal and how we can jumpstart the economy, and how some areas of the state are dealing with drought conditions. Also something fun to do starting New Year’s Day, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be hosting its annual First Day Hikes. Here is a link to help find Iowa parks to visit.
https://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/Parks-2020/First-Day-Hikes

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 FacebookTwitter, 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

11/26-1/1 Waverly Lights 103 Eliasen Avenue, Waverly, Sun-Thu 5-10pm; Fri & Sat 5-11pm, free

11/27-12/25 A “Little” Christmas Light Show 617 2nd Street Evansdale, Sun-Thu 6-9pm; Fri & Sat 6-10pm, free

11/27-12/27 Krumwiede Light Display 3708 5th Avenue NW, Waverly, Sun-Thu 5-9pm; Fri & Sat 5-10pm; Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 5-11pm, free

11/27-12/31 Prospect Light Show 1056 Prospect Boulevard, Waterloo, 5-10pm, free

12/10-1/1 Cedar Valley Tour of Lights various Cedar Valley area locations, 268-4266, free

12/18 & 19 Black Hawk County Conservation’s 1st Annual Hickory Hills Holiday Lights 3338 Hickory Hills Road, La Porte City, 5-9pm, 433-7275, $10/vehicle (cash/check)

12/19 Shop Downtown Saturdays Downtown Waterloo, 11am, 291-2038

12/24 Black Hawk County Conservation’s 1st Annual Hickory Hills Holiday Lights 3338 Hickory Hills Road, La Porte City, 5-9pm, 433-7275, $10/vehicle (cash/check)


COVID-19 Vaccination in Iowa

What You Need to Know

Iowa received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Three different national companies have created vaccines that were shown to be highly effective in the late stages of trials. One company, Pfizer, has received an emergency use authorization from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), allowing the vaccine to be distributed nationwide.

The state will receive weekly shipments of the vaccine, and is expected to get 172,000 doses by the end of December. Currently, staff and residents at nursing homes, and healthcare workers will receive the first doses. More than 120,000 Iowans work in hospitals and residential care settings, and more than 22,000 individuals live in certified nursing facilities, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The second round is expected to go to essential workers like teachers, emergency services workers, food packaging and distribution workers, among others. The general population can expect to receive the vaccine in the spring or summer. Each person will need to receive two doses to be fully vaccinated.

Public health experts recommend individuals who receive the vaccine continue to practice mitigation habits like washing hands, staying at least six feet away from others, and wearing a face mask when in public around others.

For more detailed information on vaccine distribution, please visit the Center For Disease Control’s guidebook at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/downloads/COVID-19-Vaccination-Program-Interim_Playbook.pdf. For the state distribution plan, please visit: https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/61/covid19/vaccine/Vaccine_Brief_Vaccine_Dec3_2020_Fin.pdf.


Eviction and Homelessness Prevention Grants

A new assistance program is available for Iowans who are facing eviction or experiencing homelessness because of a loss of income due to COVID-19. The Emergency Solutions Grant program helps people who have an eviction notice and could become homeless, and assists people who are currently homeless in obtaining rental housing.

Assistance for individuals that are facing eviction, currently staying with friends or family, or fleeing domestic violence must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a household income of 50% Area Median Income or less
  • Must have been economically impacted by COVID-19
  • If seeking assistance to pay overdue rent, must have a legal written lease and a notice of eviction from a landlord or court
  • Must apply and be screened through the regional Coordinated Entry phone line

Rapid assistance in finding rental housing is available for people who are currently homeless. To qualify, individuals must meet the follow criteria:

  • Must be currently experiencing homelessness (such as sleeping at a shelter, outside, or a place not meant for human habitation)
  • Must have been economically impacted by COVID-19
  • Must apply and be screened through the regional Coordinated Entry phone line

More information can be found on the Iowa Finance Authority’s website, https://www.iowafinance.com/iowa-emergency-solutions-grant-cares-act-esg-cv/ or by calling 1-833-739-0065.


Economic Forecast Slower than Normal, House Democrats
Ready to Jump-Start Economy 

As the 2020 session approaches, House Democrats are working together on plans to stop community spread of COVID, protect those on the frontlines, and get our economy rolling again. That means helping those small businesses devastated by COVID with relief and providing PPE to businesses and schools to help them stay open safely.

Iowa’s economy won’t recover until the pandemic is under control. The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met last week to update the state’s revenue projections, which will give lawmakers an idea of how much money is available for the upcoming state budget. While the projection on revenues remains status quo, Iowa has regained just half of the jobs lost due to COVID, and some individuals have dropped out of the workforce for reasons like child care or long-term disruption to their job.

While making their projections the REC expressed specific concerns including, an economy that is growing at a slower pace than they would like to see, the need for a smooth vaccine distribution, and a service economy that has been destroyed. They also noted how important the federal stimulus package was in keeping the economy afloat. Specifically, they mentioned payroll lending for businesses, stimulus checks for individuals, and bulked up unemployment benefits as all being important to moving Iowa’s recovery forward.

The REC updated their FY 2021 projection, with a 0.5% growth in revenues from FY 20. This would amount to total receipts at $7969.3 billion. The REC also made another projection for FY 2022 with an estimate of 3.7% growth over FY 21. This is lower than the 4% growth that was projected in October. This would give total net receipts plus transfers of $8,265.7 billion.


First Day Hikes at Iowa State Parks

Starting New Year’s Day, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be hosting its annual First Day Hikes. This year there will be a First Day Hike challenge with the State Park Passport program. People are encouraged to check-in at the over 50 state parks that are participating from January 1st through January 3rd. Every check-in will qualify for a prize drawing of a free 2-night stay at a 2-bedroom cabin at Lake Darling State Park.

The hikes are a great way for people to get outside and enjoy the different landscapes Iowa has to offer. People who do not have the State Park Passport can sign up here,
https://explore.traveliowa.com/checkout/311/travel-iowa/1619/iowa-state-park-passport. A map of all participating state parks can be found on the DNR’s website at: https://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/Parks-2020/First-Day-Hikes.


Other Iowa News

ALLIANT ENERGY INNOVATION SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM: Alliant Energy is offering 25 innovation scholarships to students pursuing a career in business, applied sciences, technology, engineering and math fields upon graduation. The program is administered by Scholarship America, the nation’s largest designer and manager of scholarship, tuition assistance and other education support programs for corporations, foundations, associations and individuals. Interested students should apply for the 2021 scholarships by February 17, 2021. For more information visit: https://learnmore.scholarsapply.org/alliantenergyinnovation/.

LARGE PORTION OF STATE STILL EXPERIENCING DROUGHT: Over a quarter of the state was experiencing severe drought conditions at the beginning of November, with an additional 4% of the state in extreme drought. Overall, 64% of the state is experiencing some level of drought or dryness. Because the state is entering the driest months of the year, the Department of Natural Resources states that Iowa may see groundwater conditions in Spring 2021 that are similar to now. Last month was the 10th warmest November on record. Parts of the state experienced wetter or drier conditions. Some parts of the state received nearly three quarters as much rain as usual while other parts of the state were instead equally as dry. Current stream flows are generally in normal conditions, although on the low side of those normal conditions. Severe groundwater conditions continue across much of the state. Low groundwater levels are found across the entire state. Once frost enters the ground the groundwater resources typically do not change significantly until the spring.

FAFSA FILING TIME IS NOW: Paying for higher education and the resulting student debt is a big issue for Iowans. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2019, total student loan debt held by U.S. borrowers climbed to over $1.6 trillion. Also, more than 44 million Americans owe a balance on a student loan, with the average borrower owing more than $25,000.  According to the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, Iowa’s student loan debt per person has increased 19% since 2012. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required for federal student aid such as Pell Grant, work study, and federal loans, as well as state and institutional financial aid. Many Iowans qualify for aid for higher education, yet they do not apply for it. As of December 9th, the FAFSA filing rate among high school seniors in Iowa is 18.4% below the same time last year. According to the National College Attainment Network, the rate of high school seniors nationally is 16.8% below this time last year. However, the total undergraduate filing rate in Iowa (returning and nontraditional students) is just 5.2% below this time last year. For more information on student aid go to: https://studentaid.gov/. To complete a FAFSA, go to: https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.

By | 2020-12-17T22:56:27+00:00 December 17th, 2020|Newsletters|