Last year, Iowa Republican lawmakers limited the teachings of certain “divisive concepts” from diversity workplace training and curriculum in schools. This year, Republican lawmakers are attempting to micromanage what is taught in social studies classes while banning books that pertain to subjects of race and diversity. We still have a long way to go – the fight continues.
Iowa Veterans Trust Fund Runs Out of Money, Awarded Federal Funds
A fund that was committed to supporting our Veterans recently ran out of money due to Republican mismanagement.
Thanks to the Biden Administration and the American Rescue Plan Act, the Veterans Trust Fund recently received more than $440,000 to cover the backlog of grants that the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs approved but could not distribute due to insufficient funds.
Lawmakers passed House File 142 this week, which increases the amount of money that can be allocated to assist veterans in need from the Veterans Trust Fund. Currently, the fund can spend $500,000 annually, but this bill would raise that amount to $800,000.
Although this is the first time the Veterans Trust Fund has run out of money, an increase in the number of persons who qualify and the lack of services for many veterans, has contributed to the depletion of the fund.
The Iowa Veterans Trust Fund helps qualified veterans for job training, education assistance, emergency housing and vehicle repairs, dental work, and durable medical equipment. The Iowa Lottery provides $2.5 million annually to the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund. Since 2008, the Iowa Lottery has given more than $37 million to the fund. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Iowa’s Safe at Home Program Continues to Succeed
This week, the Iowa Secretary of State’s office announced that Iowa’s Safe at Home program has nearly doubled their participants across 78 counties.
Survivors of assault, sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, and stalking may enroll in the Safe at Home address confidentiality program overseen by the Secretary of State’s office to receive a legal substitute address that can be utilized on public and private records. Additionally, the program forwards the survivors’ mail and provides confidential voter registration or absentee balloting without charge.
This program was created with unanimous bipartisan support during the 2015 legislative session, with eligibility being subsequently expanded during 2021.
Iowans who want to find out more about how Safe at Home works and receive information about enrolling should visit, safeathome.iowa.gov.
Other Iowa News
DONATE TO PROTECT WILDLIFE WHEN FILING TAXES THIS YEAR: Iowans are encouraged to utilize a tax donation to help wildlife in Iowa through the “Chickadee Checkoff”. On the Iowa income tax form, be sure to look for the Fish/Wildlife Fund line which will allow taxpayers to donate to the fund. Any donation will either be automatically taken out of any refund or added to the amount the taxpayer owes. The funding is some of the only money in the state dedicated to nongame wildlife and is used for creating habitat for nongame wildlife, finding areas to conserve, and doing data surveys. Previously it helped preserve habitats for bald eagles, songbirds, turtles, salamanders, and monarch butterflies. However, the popularity of the checkoff has decreased in recent years. Today, about 6,200 Iowa taxpayers use the checkoff to donate to wildlife conservation efforts in the state. Taxpayers are encouraged to specifically ask their tax preparers about the checkoff or pay special attention for the line when using tax preparation software.
SPONSORS SOUGHT FOR SUMMER MEALS: In an effort to head off hunger, the Iowa Department of Education is starting to seek sponsors for a federally funded program that provides nutritious meals or snacks to children in low-income areas of the state during the summer months. Summer can mean that more than 200,000 Iowa children face hunger. The program uses local sponsors and partner organizations to manage summer meal services. Organizations can also get involved by partnering with existing sponsors to promote site locations, provide activities for children, volunteers, transportation assistance and more. Organizations interested in learning how to get involved are invited to visit the Department’s Summer Food Service Program webpage, participate in an informational webinar on Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. or contact Stephanie Dross at 515-281-4760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEBRUARY IS HEART DISEASE AWARENESS MONTH: Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 650,000 people each year. American Heart Month is a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health. On National Wear Red Day, February 3rd, we remember those that we have lost to heart disease and raise awareness of the actions we can all take to prevent it.