Three Ways to Keep Our Community and Students Safe
Stopping the spread of COVID-19
Just three weeks back in school, there are more cases of COVID-19 being reported daily than there were recorded in an entire week in July. The spike in positive cases coupled with rising hospitalizations have many families concerned about the health and safety of their kids and loved ones.
According to public health experts, there are many ways to mitigate widespread COVID infections. While the Governor has prohibited some of the public health measures in Iowa, Iowans can still do the following to help to keep kids safe:
Get vaccinated: Iowans should take advantage of the vaccine to help keep people out of the hospitals. According to the Iowa Dept. of Public Health, over 90% of COVID hospitalizations in Iowa are unvaccinated individuals. Find a vaccine provider at: vaccinate.iowa.gov.
Follow CDC guidelines: With the rise in the Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status”. Every school should be allowed to follow the latest CDC guidelines, including masks and contact tracing. Iowa is one of just five states that prevents schools from following CDC guidelines in schools.
Testing in schools: Earlier this year, Governor Reynolds rejected $95 million in federal funding for COVID mitigation and testing in schools. Now 22% of new cases in Iowa are among children under the age of 17. We’ve repeatedly called on the Governor to reverse course and accept the additional funding to keep kids safe. With the closing of the Test Iowa drive-thru testing sites and increased exposure to the Delta Variant in schools, many parents and students are struggling to get tested. Here are a few options for Iowans who want to get tested:
- At-home testing: Many retailers are now offering at-home testing kits. Test Iowa also now offers at-home testing. To get an at-home Test Iowa kit sent via mail to you or to find a location to pick-up a kit, go to: testiowa.com
- Drive-thru testing: Retailers such as Walgreens and CVS offer drive-thru testing.
- Contact your doctor.
Some Relief Assistance is Still Available for Iowans
As the state continues to battle the COVID pandemic, the Biden Administration has continued to work with local communities and provide relief dollars to fight the pandemic. While the money is available for Governor Reynolds to use to fight the pandemic and rebuild Iowa’s economy, so far, she has either not accepted the relief dollars or has not developed plans for the money.
According to the most recent report for the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, the state still has over $2.9 billion available to fight the pandemic, some of the other programs that have money available but have not been implemented include: elder abuse programs, assistance for families, and funding for veterans nursing care.
As Iowa continues to not use all available resources to fight the pandemic, the Governor and legislative Republicans continue to play politics instead of helping Iowans.
Eviction Moratorium has Ended
In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC)’s eviction moratorium has ended and Governor Reynolds has yet to implement a state eviction moratorium despite thousands of Iowans needing rental assistance. On top of that, the state is still processing thousands of applications. Rental and utility assistance are still available at:
Renters who need legal advice or representation regarding an eviction should contact Iowa Legal Aid at: iowalegalaid.org/resource/eviction-during-covid-pandemic#CDC.
Texas Approves Unconstitutional Six-Week Abortion Ban into Law
On Wednesday, September 1, a Texas law that would ban almost all abortions after six-weeks went into effect. The law does not include exceptions for rape or incest and is in direct conflict with the 1973 U. S. Supreme Court Decision Roe vs. Wade, which established a constitutional right to the medical procedure. However, the current U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the law going into effect by a vote of 5-4. Many women do not even know they are pregnant during the first six-weeks of their pregnancy.
Texas is showing us the future of reproductive healthcare and Iowa could be next. Iowa GOP lawmakers are setting the stage to change the constitution to strip Iowans of their right to reproductive healthcare. The new Texas law is the most restrictive in the nation, but other states like Iowa have passed similar bans that were struck down by the state courts. In Iowa specifically, a state district judge ruled in 2019 that the six-week abortion ban was unconstitutional. Governor Reynolds and other Majority Party members have just requested that the Iowa Supreme Court overturn the 2018 ruling, making way for more restrictions in the state.
Stripping away the reproductive rights of women is nothing new for the Majority Party lawmakers in the Iowa House. Restrictive legislation has been introduced almost annually that undermines these fundamental rights. In fact, in the most recent Legislative Session, Republican politicians voted to pass HJR 5, which would make abortion illegal and would ban In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and some common forms of birth control. It would also ban abortion with no exceptions allowed for rape, incest, or even the life of the mother.
If these laws were allowed to go into effect, they would harm women across the state, and would also damage the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine, where students will not be able to complete their medical training. Iowa already ranks next to last in the nation for Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBG) physicians per capita, and two-thirds of our 99 counties currently do not have an OBG physician. This means fewer women will receive care, and there will be an increase in negative health outcomes and complications due to reduced access to these types of physicians.
Iowa will continue to be a dangerous place for women to live until laws are passed that puts their health care decisions back in their own hands, and not controlled by the politicians in Des Moines. As history has shown, bans like these will not decrease the number of abortions performed, but will only force women to find dangerous alternatives.
Legislative Redistricting Maps to be Released Sept. 16th
With the release of redistricting data by the U.S. Census Bureau, states all across the country will begin their redistricting process.
While there are various methods throughout the country, Iowa stands alone as the only state in the country that does not allow political influence to impact new legislative districts. For that very reason Iowa has long prided itself on being the “gold standard” for drawing legislative maps.
After the new map of the districts is released, a series of virtual public forums will be held across the state. More information on how to connect to the virtual public forms will be available when the map is released, check the General Assembly’s website: legis.iowa.gov.
As the new redistricting process begins it is vitally important that the state keeps the current process free of political interference to ensure all Iowans have a voice in their representation. Please contact your legislator and urge them to support and maintain Iowa’s fair redistricting. You can find your legislator here: legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find.
IUB to Hold Information Meetings on Summit Carbon Pipeline
This month, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) will hold a series of public informational meetings to inform landowners about a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline by Summit Carbon Solutions, LLC. The pipeline is proposed to cross 30 Iowa counties.
Summit Carbon proposes to partner with a number of ethanol plans in five states to capture carbon dioxide emissions and transport liquified carbon dioxide to North Dakota. The proposed project is classified as a hazardous liquid pipeline. Per Iowa law, pipeline companies are required to hold informational meetings in each county where property rights would be affected by a hazardous liquid pipeline. Meetings are to be conducted at least 30 days prior to a company filing a new pipeline permit petition and the company must provide notice to each landowner affected by the pipeline.
The IUB has scheduled the following in-person public informational meetings, plus one virtual meeting:
Hardin County – September 13, noon, Timbers Edge, 19493 Co Hwy S56, Steamboat Rock
Story County – September 13, 6 p.m., Gateway Hotel & Conference Center, 2100 Green Hills Drive, Ames
Lyon County – September 15, noon, Rock Rapids Community Center, 404 First Ave, Rock Rapids
Sioux County – September 15, 6 p.m., Terrace View, 230 St. Andrews Way, Sioux Center
Plymouth County – September 16, noon, Le Mars Convention Center (lower level), 275 12th St SE, Le Mars
Woodbury County – September 16, 6 p.m., Sioux City Convention Center, Meeting Rooms A & B, 801 Fourth St, Sioux City
Cerro Gordo County – September 20, 1:30 p.m., NIACC – Beem Center, 500 College Drive, Mason City
Floyd County – September 20, 6 p.m., Floyd Community Center, 706 Fairfield St, Floyd
O’Brien County – September 22, noon, Sheldon Community Center, 416 Ninth St, Sheldon
Cherokee County – September 22, 6 p.m., Cherokee Community Center, 530 W. Bluff St, Cherokee
Dickinson County – September 23, noon, Dickinson County Community Center, 1602 15th St, Spirit Lake
Emmet County – September 23, 5:30 p.m., Regional Wellness Center, 415 S 18th St, Estherville
Palo Alto County – September 27, 12:30 p.m., Iowa Lakes Community College, 3200 College Drive, Emmetsburg
Kossuth County – September 27, 6 p.m., Eagle Center Banquet, 401 Smith St, Lakota
Hancock County – September 28, 1 p.m., Viaduct Center, 255 US Hwy 69 S, Garner
Chickasaw County – September 29, 1 p.m., Chickasaw Event Center, 301 N. Water Ave, New Hampton
Boone County – October 4, noon, Boone County Historical Society, 602 Story St, Boone
Greene County – October 4, 5 p.m., Jefferson High School, 1901 N Grimmell Road, Jefferson
Ida County – October 5, noon, Cobblestone Inn & Suites, 2011 Indorf Ave, Holstein
Crawford County – October 5, 6 p.m., Memorial Hall, 550 Main St, Manilla
Shelby County – October 6, noon, Therkildsen Activity Center, 706 Victoria St, Harlan
Pottawattamie County – October 6, 6 p.m., Impact Hill, 501 Oakland Ave, Oakland
Clay County – October 8, noon, Clay County Fairground, 800 W 18th St, Spencer
Mills County – October 11, noon, Lakin Community Center, 61321 315th St, Malvern
Fremont County – October 11, 6 p.m., The Waterfalls, 907 Hartford Ave, Farragut
VIRTUAL Meeting – October 12, 5:30 p.m., Iowa Utilities Board, 1375. E. Court Ave, Des Moines (Register to attend.)
Wright County – October 13, noon, Heartland Museum, 119 SW Ninth St, Clarion
Franklin County – October 13, 5 p.m., Maynes Grove Lodge, 946 US Hwy 65, Hampton
Page County – October 14, noon, Shenandoah Public Library, 201 S Elm St, Shenandoah
Montgomery County – October 14, 6 p.m., Montgomery County Ag Society Gold Building, 1809 N Fourth St, Red Oak
Hamilton County – October 15, 12:30 p.m., All Cultures Equal, 1440 E Second St, Webster City
Webster County – October 15, 6 p.m., Best Western Starlite Village, 1518 Third Ave NW, Fort Dodge
The October 12th virtual meeting will be conducted from the IUB’s hearing room. Those wishing to attend should use the above link, which is required for remote access.
Written comments or objections to the proposed pipeline can be electronically filed using the IUB’s open docket form, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to the Iowa Utilities Board, Attn: Docket No. HLP-2021-001, 1375 E. Court Ave. Des Moines, IA 50319.
For more information, Iowans should visit the IUB’s website.
More Iowa News
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ENCOURAGED TO APPLY TO BE LEGISLATIVE PAGES: The Iowa Legislature is looking for high school students to learn more about the legislative process by applying to serve as a Legislative Page in the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2022 Legislative Session. Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff at the Iowa State Capitol building. The Iowa House Chief Clerk’s office will be accepting applications until Friday, October 8, 2021. For more details on the page program and how to apply go to, legis.iowa.gov/careers.
DNR RELEASES VIDEO ON BACTERIA WATER QUALITY ISSUES: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently released a video on the Department’s plan to address water quality issues in lakes around the state related to excessive bacteria. Multiple lakes around the state are currently considered impaired waters, or waters that are not meeting water quality standards from the federal Clean Water Act. These high levels of bacteria are generally caused by elevated levels of fecal matter in the water. The DNR plan reviews the problem with bacteria in Iowa lakes and reviews sources of the problem and potential solutions. The plan can serve as a guide for local actors, stakeholders, and residents to improve water quality in Iowa lakes. Public comments on the plan can be submitted to the DNR by October 4th via email to email@example.com. The DNR’s presentation can be viewed on the DNR’s youtube page through October 4th at youtube.com/iowadnr. Additional information on the DNR’s water quality plan can be found here.
ARTS AND HUMANITIES GRANTS AVAILABLE: Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, new arts grants will be awarded to individual artists and organizations. American Rescue Plan Arts Grants range from $500 to $20,000. Applications are due online October 1. American Rescue Plan Humanities Grants range from $2,500 to $20,000. Applications are due online October 1. Humanities Project Grants range from $1,000 to $20,000 to support public humanities projects that involve and benefit Iowans through innovative programs. Applications are due online November 1. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has awarded grants for fiscal year 2022.