Hopefully, you are enjoying the weather, as we move into the fall season.
I attended the George Wyth ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially opening the George Wyth Cedar Valley bike trail today. We had a lot of people attending the ribbon cutting and they rode the trail, after the ceremony. This will be a great asset to our community.
I attended the Cedar River Experience today at Gateway Park, in Cedar Falls. The Cedar River Project is designed to provide a multi-use activities, back to our river. White water rafting, paddle boards, and kayaking, to name a few, will be available. I look forward to the completion of the project.
Consider attending the Grow Solar Power Hour to learn the basics of solar.
In the Statehouse Newsletter, you will find information about:
1. People Over Politics.
2. Time to Get Your Flu Shot and COVID-19 Booster.
3. Iowa Utilities Board Holds Cost Savings Review.
4. Iowans Deserve a Government that Works for Them.
Please share your comments.
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 Facebook, Twitter, 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!
Given Iowans’ deep frustration with politics, Iowa House Democratic lawmakers began work last year on some commonsense ideas for the Iowa Legislature to consider that will improve the lives of Iowans.
Democrats kept their promise to Iowans: writing and submitting a multitude of bills and policies in a package House Dems called People Over Politics. The agenda crafted by lawmakers is supported by a strong majority of Iowans and has four main components, including lowering costs for Iowans, protecting reproductive freedom, investing in public schools, and legalizing marijuana. Republican lawmakers refused to consider or take up this policy push, but Democrats remain committed and more determined than ever to continue putting people over politics.
Lowering Costs for Iowans: To ease the financial burden many Iowans face, here are some of the ideas Democratic lawmakers proposed and will continue working on to lower costs:
Freezing tuition at state universities and community colleges to relieve the burden on college students
Protecting Reproductive Freedom: Everyone deserves the right to make their own healthcare decisions, especially when it comes to reproductive care and abortion. Here is legislation Democratic lawmakers submitted and will continue to push to expand reproductive freedom for Iowans:
Investing in Public Schools:For generations, Iowans have counted on our great public schools to educate our kids and be the heart of our communities large and small. We fought to fully fund public schools to keep up with rising costs and make sure every kid, in every zip code gets a great education. We also need to raise pay for educators while giving them a seat at the table. We will continue to hold the Governor’s private school voucher plan accountable to ensure public money goes to help public schools first.
Legalizing Marijuana: Earlier this year, lawmakers introduced a comprehensive marijuana bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program and safely legalize marijuana use for adults. Legalizing marijuana will keep Iowans safe through comprehensive regulation, stop our tax dollars from going to neighboring states, improve the quality of life for Iowans suffering from chronic illnesses, and stop wasting state resources to unfairly punish Iowans. The plan allows Iowans over the age of 21 to purchase marijuana for recreational use from a licensed retail store. There is a 10% excise tax and a 1% local option surcharge with the revenue going to public schools, mental health services, and local public safety.
After the divisive 2023 legislative session, more Iowans than ever are engaged to push back on the Governor and GOP lawmakers who put politics and the special interests first with issues like vouchers, book bans, cutting taxes for corporations, and banning gay marriage.
This fall, Democratic lawmakers will be touring Iowa and hearing more from Iowans about what’s important to them.
Time to Get Your Flu Shot and COVID-19 Booster
Flu season has officially started in Iowa, and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends Iowans get the flu vaccination to protect themselves. Be sure to ask your doctor or your pharmacy for the newest flu vaccination at your next appointment, for more information about Iowa influenza tracking and monitoring, visit: idph.iowa.gov/influenza.
With another new COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly across the country, Iowans are also now able to get the new COVID-19 booster targeting the XBB variants. This new booster can be given at the same time as your flu shot. Both the flu shot and COVID-19 booster are recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older. For more information about the new COVID-19 booster: cdc.gov/respiratory-viruses/whats-new/covid-vaccine-recommendations-9-12-2023.html.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month honors cultural heritage from the nations of Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Spain. Each year, from September 15 to October 15 Americans recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and rich histories of the American Latino community.
Today, Hispanics and Latinos make up 7% of Iowa’s population, the largest ethnic minority in Iowa. It also represents one of the largest demographics of young groups in the state and is key to a vibrant, progressive future for Iowa.
Iowa Utilities Board Holds Cost Savings Review
Last week, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) held the first of three public input discussions to review state laws relating to utility rates and consumer cost savings. These discussions will conclude in early November with legislative recommendations to be considered during the next session in January.
Last session, lawmakers passed bipartisan legislation requiring the IUB to undertake this review with a primary focus on ensuring safe, adequate, and affordable utility services to consumers. With Iowa’s rapid renewable energy expansion in wind and solar, this review helps the Board, utilities, and stakeholders determine how to update Iowa policy to lower consumers’ energy costs and help utilities deliver reliable service.
Despite recent significant transformations and increased cost-saving opportunities within the energy industry, corporate special interests and increased partisanship have prevented Iowa law and regulations from allowing consumers access to such benefits.
In 2018, Iowa Republicans passed special interest legislation that drastically rolled back the state’s nation-leading energy efficiency programs, which required utilities to provide Iowans with cost-saving rebates on lighting, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, and home insulation. The law also allows corporate utilities to raise consumer energy prices without IUB approval. As a result, Iowa dropped from 19th to 35th nationally for energy efficiency.
House Democrats will continue to put people over politics by fighting to lower Iowans’ costs, ensure consumer protection, and expand customer access to reliable service.
Iowans Deserve a Government that Works for Them, Public Speaks Out
Last session, a 1,600-page bill was rushed through the Iowa Legislature by Republican leaders that realigned state government. Instead of listening to any Iowans about ways we could make state government work better for them, GOP lawmakers made unilateral decisions prior to public input.
Now, after the law has been signed, a recently created Committee on Boards and Commissions held its first, and only public hearing this past week. The state committee had recommended eliminating, changing, or merging more than 100 state boards and commissions and repealing an Iowa law that guarantees equal representation on numerous state boards and commissions. The public hearing was an “opportunity” for Iowans to finally get to speak on the proposed recommendations regarding the state government’s numerous boards and commissions.
The two-hour public hearing heard testimony from Iowans in different trades and professions who worry the recommendations could lead to lower safety and professional standards for Iowans in the workforce. Much of the suggested changes are vague and after the public hearing, many Iowans were left with more questions than answers.
The committee will now take the public testimony into account and produce and vote on their final recommendations to send to the Legislature. It will then be the decision of the Iowa Legislature whether to implement the recommended changes.
More Iowa News
FALL & WINTER TRAVEL IOWA GUIDE NOW AVAILABLE: Plan your fall and winter Iowa vacations with the latest Travel Iowa Guide. A digital version of the fall/winter guide is available online at traveliowa.com or you can request a free print version of the magazine. The magazine includes stops, activities, and festivals in all corners of the state.
WEIGHT LIMIT EXCEPTIONS FOR HARVEST SEASON: To support the transport of this year’s crops, the Governor has signed a proclamation allowing a temporary weight limit exemption for trucks operating on Iowa roads. The 2023 Harvest Weight Proclamation specifically increases the weight allowable for shipment of corn, soybeans, hay, straw, stover silage, fertilizer, and manure, up to a maximum of 90,000 pounds, without the need for an overweight permit. The proclamation applies to all loads transported on all highways within Iowa, excluding the interstate system. Trucks must still comply with posted weight limits on roads and bridges and cannot exceed 20,000 pounds per axle. The proclamation was signed on September 11th and is effective through October 11th.
IOWA JUDICIAL BRANCH CELEBRATES CONSTITUTION DAY: The Iowa Judicial Branch has a one-stop resource available for learning about the Iowa and the United States Constitution that was released in celebration of Constitution Day. The Constitution 2023 website includes videos, podcasts, and discussion guides on constitutional issues. The resource was developed by the Iowa Judicial Branch and the Iowa State Bar Association. Constitution Day recognizes the ratification of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. Iowa was the first state to celebrate Constitution Day in 1911. The federal government did not officially observe Constitution Day until 2004. Congress requires all public schools to set aside one day to teach about the U.S. Constitution in observance of Constitution Day. The Iowa constitutional case highlighted in the Iowa Judicial Branch Constitution Day materials this year involves the collection of DNA from a discarded straw in a first-degree murder case. Materials for Constitution Day, including summaries and discussion topics on the highlighted case, can be found at iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/supreme-court/constitution-day-2023/.