Legislature Fails to Pass Plan 1 Redistricting Maps
Democrats continue call for fair, nonpartisan maps
On a party-line vote, Iowa Senate Republicans voted down the first nonpartisan redistricting plan submitted by the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) this week. The vote means the Iowa Legislature will need to reconvene again before December 1st to approve a map.
The nonpartisan LSA will immediately begin drawing the second map and has 35 days to submit it to the Legislature. If lawmakers vote down Map 2, a third map will be drawn.
Democratic lawmakers supported the first map, as it was drawn without interference from politicians. Republican lawmakers in the Senate voted against the map and offered no legitimate reasons for their vote.
Iowa’s redistricting process is months behind due to delays in receiving the US Census Data used to draw maps. The Iowa Supreme Court has given lawmakers until December 1 to approve a new map for congressional and legislative districts that will be used for the next 10 years.
After the vote, Democratic lawmakers pledged support for the second map and said it should be approved without amendment to continue Iowa’s gold standard for fair representation.
State Closes Books with Strong Surplus
The State of Iowa closed the books on the 2021 fiscal year with a $1.2 billion surplus.
As noted by state budget experts, Iowa’s budget would not be in the strong position it is today without the unprecedented COVID relief and recovery efforts approved in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP). Those efforts included monthly payments of child tax credits for Iowa families, lower health insurance premiums, and new investments for Iowa public schools.
While Governor Reynolds has continuously tried to take credit for Iowa’s strong economy, it should be noted that the Reynolds Administration openly opposed the COVID relief measures for Iowans in the ARP.
COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Available for Some Iowans
Residents across the state of Iowa are continuing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. As of September 29, 2021, over 3.33 million doses have been administered, and over 1.67 million series have been completed (residents who have already received both doses).
Beginning on September 23, the CDC voted to recommend a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine for some populations. Those who are eligible to receive the booster include:
- People 65 years and older
- Residents of long-term care facilities
- People aged 18-64 with underlying medical conditions
- People aged 18-64 at an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure due to their jobs
These recommendations only apply to those who originally received the Pfizer vaccine for their first two doses. The CDC is still in the process of reviewing booster shots for individuals who received the Moderna or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.
COVID-19 Vaccines for Pregnant Individuals
Additionally, the CDC has recently recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for individuals who are pregnant, who are trying to get pregnant, or who may become pregnant in the near future. Several studies have shown that the benefits of the vaccine for both the pregnant individual and the fetus far outweigh any risks. For more information regarding pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit: Pregnancy Vaccine Facts
Crime Victim Assistance Receives $12.76 Million in Federal Funding
The Iowa Attorney General’s office announced that the Crime Victim Assistance Division (CVAD) received $12.76 million from the Department of Justice to fund victim assistance and victim compensation programs in Iowa.
Last year, nearly 55,000 Iowans received assistance including shelter and housing, counseling and justice system services through the Crime Victim Compensation program – all are a direct result of Victims of Crime Act federal funding.
The additional $12.76 million funds, which apply to federal fiscal year 2022, will provide compensation payments to victims of violent crimes and directly support victim service programs across the state through grants. The funding is part of a $1.2 billion in federal grants being awarded this year to states and territories to support crime victims under the Department of Justice.
Funds for the award are available from the Crime Victims Fund, which is comprised of federal criminal fines, penalties and bond forfeitures, and zero tax payer dollars. The most recent award represents an 8% decrease in funding from the $17.9 million last fiscal year. Funding is expected to continuously decrease, by as much as 20% in immediate years, before the Victims Crime Act (VOCA) goes into effect.
CVAD anticipated, prior to the VOCA fix, that funding decreases would result in nearly 5,000 fewer victims being served during fiscal year 2021 and nearly 23,500 fewer victims assisted during fiscal year 2022.
Victim assistance funding goes to local direct service programs, including children’s advocacy centers, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, human trafficking and elder abuse programs, civil legal services and crime victims’ rights enforcement, as well as victim advocate positions in prosecutors’ offices and law enforcement departments. State victim compensation programs supplement the state funds that assist victims with financial burdens such as medical fees, lost income, dependent care, funeral expenses and other costs resulting from crime.
This session, Iowa Democrats proposed increasing CVAD appropriation by $2.5 million for crime victims of domestic abuse, rape, sexual assault or homicide survivors. Unfortunately, Iowa Republicans blocked the measure and the proposal failed on a party line vote.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program Available
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps qualifying low-income Iowa homeowners and renters pay for a portion of their primary heating costs for the winter heating season. Assistance is based on household income, size, fuel, and housing type. You may view eligibility guidelines here.
Program applications will be accepted at local community action agencies starting October 1, 2021 for households who have a member that is at least 60 years of age, disabled, or where disconnection is imminent. All other qualifying individuals may apply beginning November 1, 2021. The last day to apply is April 30, 2022.
Households applying for LIHEAP are additionally eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Weatherization is a federal grant program that helps reduce the heating and cooling costs for low income persons, particularly the elderly, disabled, and children, by improving residential energy efficiency and reducing household energy costs.
Anyone facing disconnection at any time should contact their local community action agency for assistance. To find your local agency, please call 2-1-1.
Applicants may initiate an appeal if an application was denied, or incorrect facts were used to determine eligibility, assistance amounts, or services. For more information on appeal and hearing procedures, visit Appeal & Hearing Procedure.
More Iowa News
IOWA #1 IN PASSING RATE ON HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY EXAM: Iowa has the highest passing rate among the 29 states and territories that use the HiSET high school equivalency exam. Last year, 96% of Iowans seeking a high school equivalency diploma passed the exam compared to 81% nationally. The exam measures the knowledge and proficiency equivalent to those of an Iowa high school graduate. The HiSET has served as the state-approved test since 2014. Iowa law also allows state providers to offer alternative pathways for students for high school equivalency diplomas based on the attainment of high school credit, postsecondary degree or foreign postsecondary degree. For more information, including test preparation centers, visit the Iowa Department of Education website at High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) Program page.
DOT AUCTION OCT. 16TH: The Department of Transportation (DOT) is holding a public auction in Ames on Saturday, October 16th. Auction items include vehicles, equipment, trailers, plows, tires, mowers, brine tanks, spray equipment, tampers, concrete buggy, and lawn equipment. People can look at the auction items on Friday, October 15th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. The auction starts at 9 a.m. at the DOT auction building near 931 South Fourth Street in Ames. For more information and to see an inventory list of what is being sold visit, iowadot.gov/auction
COLLEGE CREDIT IN HIGH SCHOOL LINKED TO SUCCESS IN COLLEGE: Students who take college credit courses in high school are more likely to enroll in college after graduation and earn a degree or credential, according to a new Iowa Department of Education report. In Iowa’s longitudinal look at joint enrollment, the report tracks 29,000 high school graduates from the class of 2011 over an eight-year period. The report shows the benefit in enrolling in community college credit courses while in high school versus students who did not. Out of the 17,508 high school students from the class of 2011 who earned college credit in high school, 76% enrolled in college immediately after graduating, and of those, 59% achieved a degree within eight years. In comparison, 50% of students who did not earn college credit in high school immediately enrolled in college. Of those, 33% completed a degree or transferred during the same time frame. Full report: Outcomes of Jointly Enrolled Students in Iowa – 2021.
GOVCONNECT IOWA ROLLED OUT TO STREAMLINE BUSINESS CONTACTS: The state will launch GovConnectIowa in November to provide a portal for businesses to better access licenses and permits, file tax returns, make payments, and communicate with their state government. In the future, the system will also provide tools for corporate income taxpayers, individual income taxpayers, local government oversight, and other government operations. The portal is a collaboration between the Iowa Department of Revenue, Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, Iowa Lottery, and Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. The new tool was developed over four years in an effort to modernize the processes of state government to better serve Iowans.