May 28, 2020

Greetings to you all,Hopefully, you and your family are staying healthy during these very difficult and uncertain times we are facing.  The Legislature plans to reconvene on Wednesday, June 3, at 9 am. The Legislature suspended the session on March 16 dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect the health and safety of legislators, staff, and the public. The Capital will be open, but strict guidelines will be in place at the Capital, limiting access to the House or Senate chambers.  No reservations will be allowed in the capitol, for committee rooms or the rotunda. The House and Senate chamber doors will remain locked and will require badge access to enter. The safety of everyone in the building is of upmost importance.

I anticipate the majority party is going to move the funnel deadline to June 5th so they can move bills forward that didn’t pass during the session before early adjournment on March 16th. Then we will probably be addressing the budgets that have to be completed by the end of June. One issue that we are facing is as we prepare to reopen our schools and businesses, there is a greater need than ever to address the social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs of all Iowans. We have seen the impacts that the virus has had on everyone and especially our students and teachers. Hopefully, we will be able to make that a focus before closing the session.

In the days ahead of the session restarting, I’ll be listening and working closely with local leaders, to make sure the state is partnering with those in our community who need help and assistance. I’ll also be working with my colleagues, on important issues that must be addressed during this crisis. While I will be at the Capitol starting next week, I will be 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!


As Iowa Opens Take Precautions 

As the state continues to open, it’s important to remember the virus is still spreading so we need to continue to take precautions.

SOCIAL DISTANCE: If you go out, try to avoid close contact with others and put 6 feet of distance between yourself and others as much as possible. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.

WASH YOUR HANDS: Be sure to wash your hands often, especially once you’ve been out of your home.

WEAR A MASK: In light of data about how COVID-19 spreads, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in community settings. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.

STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK: Stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 including a fever, runny nose, or chest pain.

What is Open in Iowa? 

While COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Iowa, Governor Reynolds loosen more public health measures. Here is the updated list of what is open and still remains closed.

Businesses opened before or starting May 28th

  • Restaurants, bars, winery, brewery, distillery, country clubs, fraternal clubs, and wedding receptions
    • Limit customers to 50% capacity
    • Groups are limited to no more than 10 people
    • Groups of people must be 6 feet apart
    • No self-service food or beverages
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
    • Live performances can resume but performers must be 6 feet away from customers. Customers are prohibited from congregating closer than 6 feet
  • Fitness Centers
  • Malls
  • Other Retail Stores
  • Salons & Barber shops
  • Medical Spas
  • Tanning Facilities
  • Massage Therapy Establishments
  • Tattoos Establishments
  • Campgrounds
  • Places of Worship
  • Race Tracks
  • Libraries
  • Drive in Theaters
  • Movie theaters
  • Museums, aquariums, and zoos
  • Swimming pools-
    • lap swimming and swim lessons only
    • Waterslides, wading pools, splash pads, and wave pools closed

Businesses allowed to reopen on June 1, 2020

  • Outdoor performance venues
    • Any grandstand or performances with permanent seating is limited to 50% capacity
    • Groups must be 6 feet apart
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Casinos and gaming facilities
    • Limit customers to 50% capacity
    • All wagering and gaming positions must be 6 feet apart
    • No self-service food or beverages
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • BINGO halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, and amusement parks
    • Limit customers to 50% capacity
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Skating rinks and skating parks
    • Limit customers to 50% capacity
    • Must make reasonable efforts to maintain social distance and increase hygiene practices
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Auctions – Number of attendees increased
    • Indoor auctions are limited to 50% capacity
    • Outside auctions with a grandstand or permanent seating is limited to 50%
    • All groups or individuals standing alone must be 6 feet apart

Mass Gatherings (effective June 1, 2020)

  • Social, community, recreational, leisure, or sporting gathering or events including parades, festivals, conventions, or fundraisers of more than ten people may take place with capacity limited to 50%, social distancing, and reasonable measures of increased hygiene practices.
  • Non-school sporting and recreational events, including practices, games, competitions for baseball, softball and individual sports are allowed even where the athletes may have contact within six feet.

Extension of Closures 

The following are too remained closed until 11:59pm on June 17, 2020

  • Theaters: all indoor and outdoor performance venues for live theater performances
  • Senior Citizens and adult daycare facilities
  • Indoor playgrounds

Primary Election June 2nd

Iowans who did not choose to vote from home will head to the polls on June 2nd to vote in their parties’ primary election. Voters will have to be a registered member of a political party to vote in the Primary but can register at the polls.

It is important that voters make plans to vote, as their location may have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Polls are open from 7am to 9pm. Please remember social distance and wear a face mask to protect yourself, others, and poll workers.

Important Links:

To confirm their polling location voters should contact their county auditor, who’s information can be found here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/auditors/auditor.asp?CountyID=00

If a voter wants to confirm their voter registration status they can check online here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/regtovote/search.aspx

If a voter has requested an absentee ballot they can track it here: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/absenteeballotstatus/absentee/search


Budget Yet to be Set for FY 2021

As Iowans continue to adjust their daily lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, state legislators are also anticipating a decline in state revenues.  In order to get a better picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the state budget, the state’s budget experts on the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) announced they will meet on May 29th via teleconference to make new projections on state revenue.

The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) released a report last week that for the time period between March 19th and May 5th net revenue loss was 36.1% While it is impossible to predict what the REC will project for revenue loss for the state, other states may provide an insight on what to expect. The Center of Budget Policy released a report that shows states across the country projecting losses well over $1 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

When the Legislative session resumes on June 3rd and budget decisions will have to be made, House Democrats will continue to prioritize working families and those who have been negatively impacted both physically and financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Iowa Only State to Allow Summer High School Sports

As states start to open up their economy, Iowa currently will be the only state to allow summer high school sports.  Summer sports (including baseball and softball only) will be allowed starting June 1st.

Not every school district will elect to participate, but if they do, the following restrictions apply:

  • Post signage prominently indicating no one should attend or participate in practice (June 1) or a game (starting June 15) if they currently have symptoms or have been in contact with anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
  • No dugout may be used for practices. Game use only starting June 15.
  • Parents must remain in their cars or drop off and pick up players after practice. Parents and fans cannot attend games if they are showing symptoms and encouraged to bring chairs for games for social distancing.
  • Players should use their own gloves, helmets, and bats as much as possible.
  • Coaches are responsible for ensuring social distancing is maintained between players, and sanitizing equipment.
  • Players and coaches need to check temperatures before attending practices and games.
  • No concessions are allowed.
  • Players cannot have the popular sunflower seeds.

Enjoy Outside Activities, Iowa State Parks Open

Many Iowans are getting outdoors due to the nice weather and to find activities while social distancing.  Iowa’s state parks and many county and city parks are open for people to visit.  People need to follow park restrictions and maintain social distancing while in the parks.     

The Department of Natural Resources has opened all campgrounds, bathrooms, and shower buildings in state parks.  Shelter houses and lodges remain closed.  Campgrounds do have a few restrictions to help campers maintain social distancing.  The restrictions include:

  • In campgrounds, only campers with overnight reservations will be allowed; no visitors.
  • Only six overnight occupants per campsite will be allowed, unless immediate family contains more than six.
  • Check-in time has been moved to 5:00 p.m. and check-out time to 9:00 a.m. to allow for more cleaning time between rentals.
  • Communal picnic tables and grills are open for use at your own risk.
  • For cabin rentals, all kitchenware such as dishes, pots and pans, has been removed; renters will need to bring their own from home.
  • Beaches remain open, but will be monitored closely.
  • Some areas of parks and campgrounds may be closed due to construction or maintenance issues, so please check the specific closure information for each park before planning a camping trip.

Free Fishing Weekend

Free fishing weekend is June 5th, 6th, and 7th.  All Iowa residents can fish without a license during free fishing weekend.  For more information on free fishing weekend and to reserve a campsite visit, https://www.iowadnr.gov/


Workforce Housing Tax Credits Available 

Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is accepting applications for the Workforce Housing Tax Credit program.  At this time only projects in Iowa’s least 88 populous counties are being considered as part of the small city set aside.  Developers must meet the following criteria to be considered for a tax credit:

  • Meet one of four criteria: housing development on a brownfield or grayfield or upper story housing or rehabilitation of dilapidated housing stock or new construction in greenfield space
  • Include construction or rehab of at least four single-family homes or at least one multi-family building containing three or more units or at least two upper story units
  • Total project costs for projects under the Small Cities set aside may not exceed $215,000 per unit or $250,000 for historic rehabilitation.
  • Be completed within three years of award
  • Be located in the 88 least populous Iowa counties

IEDA will be awarding up to $10 million in credits and individual projects can receive up to $1 million per project.  Developers need to apply by June 8th to be considered however developers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.  For more information visit,  https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/WHTC


OTHER UPDATES IN IOWA 

HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM EXTENDED: This spring, Congress provided funding for low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) under the Cares Act economic stimulus package. Due to the anticipated demand, the Iowa Department of Human Rights Community Action Agencies have extended LIHEAP application deadlines to June 30th, 2020.  Iowa families who are facing challenges to cope with COVID-19 virus can apply for the Energy Assistance program at their local community action agency. This program can help pay a portion of an eligible household’s utility bill. Eligibility is based on household size and income. Those households who have not already applied, or, who are facing disconnection, are encouraged to do so at this time at: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/where-apply or by dialing 2-1-1.

JUDICIAL BRANCH TO RESUME JULY 13: The Iowa Supreme Court issued a new supervisory order delaying in person proceedings until July 13th and jury trials starting September 14th.  The courts have heard only emergency and essential hearings in person since March 14th in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to the Chief Justice, after consults with public health experts, court users, legal organizations, and members of the Jump Start Jury Trials Task Force it was near unanimous that face-to-face court proceedings should not restart on June 1st as initially planned. The State Court Administrator is currently working with county and public health officials to determine criteria for safely reopening courthouses.  The Supreme Court also issued guidance on priority cases and guidance for scheduling, hearing, and handling cases.  The Judicial Branch also created a Jumpstart Family Law Task Force to make recommendations to the courts on how to handle family law cases when these proceedings resume.  Information on the Judicial Branch’s response to COVID-19 can be found at https://www.iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/covid-19-information-and-updates/.

HELP FOR IOWA MEAT PRODUCERS: State inspected Iowa producers are one step closer to being able to sell their products across state lines following agreements with the United States Department of Agriculture. State inspected producers are smaller than the federally inspected facilities but have equal safety and inspection standards.  To qualify the facility must have less than 25 employees and comply with all federal food sanitation, safety and facility regulations. To apply or get more information, visit https://iowaagriculture.gov/meat-poultry-inspections-bureau/cis

IMMUNIZATION EXEMPTIONS: Recently, there has been some confusion regarding immunization exemption requirements changing during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), school districts should continue, even during the COVID-19 outbreak, to recognize medical and religious exemptions if a student satisfies the requirements for the exemption. Public Health currently does not plan to delay or suspend immunization requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. In order to attend school or licensed child care for the 2020-2021 school year, the child needs one of the following; an Iowa Department of Public Health-Certificate of Immunization, Provisional Certificate of Immunization, or Certificate of Immunization Exemption. Now, more than ever, immunizations are very important to the health and well-being of all Iowans. Though there is not currently a vaccination for COVID-19, getting vaccinated for other viruses can impact the overall health of our state, keep people in the workplace, and positively impact our economy. For more information regarding vaccinations, please visit: https://idph.iowa.gov/immtb/immunization/vfc.

DOUBLE UP FOOD BUCKS: Buy $1 fruits & veggies with your EBT card and get $1 FREE fruits & veggies with Double Up Food Bucks! This is good for locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. If you spend $5, you get $5. If you spend $10, you get $10! They will match up to $10 every time you visit! Find a participating location in Iowa at: http://www.iowahealthieststate.com/resources/communities/double-up-food-bucks/how-it-works/


Iowa COVID-19 Resources 

CURRENT COVID-19 INFORMATION: For the latest updates from the Iowa Governor’s office on COVID-19: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov

GET TESTED FOR COVID-19:  Iowa is now offering drive through testing for those who qualify after taking an online assessment at www.testiowa.com.

COVID-19 PUBLIC HOTLINE: For Iowans with questions about COVID-19, a public hotline is open 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431 (Español disponible)

CRISIS TEXT LINE: To access the Crisis Text Line, text “TALK” to 741741

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE:  Call 1-800-273-8255

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522

FOOD PANTRIES: Find a food pantry near you go to: https://www.foodbankiowa.org/

CHILDCARE: Looking for childcare during COVID-19? Go to https://dhs.iowa.gov/childcare-covid-19 to find open spots or facilities.

FREE LEGAL HELP: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/2020-coronavirus-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know

CARES ACT FEDERAL LEGISLATION: A new summary of recently passed federal legislation and its impact on Iowa will be continuously updated and is available here: https://tinyurl.com/sg2hluc

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATES: For the latest updates on coronavirus and to learn more about prevention efforts, go to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health at https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: http://volunteeriowa.galaxydigital.com

By | 2020-09-28T13:09:03+00:00 May 28th, 2020|Newsletters|