|New Legislative Maps Proposed, Special Session Called
Democrats continue call for fair, nonpartisan maps
The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) released the non-partisan redistricting plan last week, which will provide new congressional and legislative districts across the state. This process occurs every ten years following the census. Unlike other states, Iowa uses only population numbers to draw the new maps, omitting any political data.
The proposed maps will be either accepted or rejected by the Legislature during an upcoming special session that will begin on October 5th. If the maps are approved and signed by the Governor, these new districts will be in place for the upcoming 2022 election. Before the map can be voted on however, there must be three public hearings. All the public hearings this year will be held virtually by the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Committee.
If the current maps are adopted, the new Iowa House maps would pit 14 Republican incumbents against one other – resulting in various Republican primary elections. The maps would also put 4 Democratic incumbents against each other, as well as a district that contains both a Democrat and a Republican.
To view the proposed districts, click here: https://iowa-legis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/instant/lookup/index.html?appid=9cd3361202964cde8738785f93ed73ef
Nearly 3M Sign Up for ACA Coverage During COVID-19
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced this week that nearly 3 million people have gained access to comprehensive, affordable healthcare through the 2021 Special Enrollment Period (SEP) on both the federal and state-based exchanges. This is a 20% increase since last year’s end.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) expanded premium tax credits, reduced premiums, increased savings, and provided consumers with quality, affordable health coverage. The COVID-19 relief law has helped trim premiums by $67 a month for current ACA enrollees, and 4 in 10 new customers during SEP found coverage for $10 a month or less. Out-of-pocket expenses have also decreased by 90%.
Despite a decade of GOP-led efforts to repeal or have the Supreme Court overturn the law, the ACA has now joined Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance as a permanent component of government programs – providing coverage to nearly 145 million people. To date, the ACA’s most popular provisions include pre-existing condition protections and allowing young adults 26 and younger to remain on their parents’ insurance plan. Currently 1.3 million Iowans have a pre-existing condition and nearly 227,000 Iowans could lose their health coverage if the ACA was overturned.
Over 15,000 Iowans newly enrolled in SEP plans between February and August 2021, which is a significant increase compared to 2019 and 2020 SEPs.
Iowans who are still without coverage in 2021 can find out if they are eligible at healthcare.gov to enroll through SEPs that cover individuals who have experienced life-changing events, such as loss of other coverage, marriage, having a baby, or moving to a new location. The next Open Enrollment Period starts on November 1 for coverage in 2022.
The ACA is here to stay, and Iowa House Democrats look forward to helping expand affordable healthcare access to every Iowan.
Drinking Water Meets Highest Standards in 25 years
An annual report of Iowa drinking water systems recently showed the highest level of compliance with health-based standards in 25 years. The report showed that 98.9% of the state’s drinking water complies with state and national health standards.
The annual compliance report measures how nearly 1,900 public water supplies in the state meet these national standards. The DNR is responsible for collecting information on these public water supplies and preparing the report, which is then submitted to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Public water sources are also required to compile an annual Consumer Confidence Report, which includes additional information; such as any violation of standards or contaminants during the reporting period. Consumers that would like their local Consumer Confidence Report should contact their local drinking water utility or provider.
The Iowa Public Drinking Water Program 2020 Annual Compliance Report can be found at:
Support Labor Union Appreciation Month
Throughout this pandemic, Iowa’s workers have stepped up to keep our economy running, even when their personal health and safety was put in harm’s way. One way to show them our gratitude is to support the recognition of Labor Union Appreciation Month.
For three years, many organizations have been pushing to recognize unions for an entire month, not solely on Labor Day. Unions have not only kept our economy afloat during this public health emergency, they have paved the way for workplace safety, worked to increase wages and benefits, and have been instrumental in narrowing the race and gender wage gap.
To learn more information about this movement and the importance of unions to our state, please visit https://thankaunion.com/.
Weight Limit Exceptions for Harvest Season
The Governor has recently signed a proclamation allowing a temporary weight limit exemption for trucks operating on Iowa roads.
The 2021 Harvest Weight Proclamation specifically increases the weight allowable for shipment of corn, soybeans, hay, straw, and stover, 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 limits on roads and bridges. The proclamation was signed on September 17th and is effective through October 17th.
September is College Savings Month
College Savings Iowa was created in 1998 as a tax-advantaged way to save for the costs of education on behalf of a child. This essentially ensured qualified withdrawals – such as tuition, room and board, supplies, computers and more – are tax-free.
In 2021, an Iowa taxpayer with a College Savings Iowa (or IAdvisor 529 Plan account owner), can deduct the first $3,474 they contribute per beneficiary account from their state taxable income. Married participants who contribute to separate accounts on behalf of their two children can deduct up to $13,896 (4 x $3,474) on their 2021 Iowa taxes.
September is College Savings Month, and serves as a national reminder of how impactful investing in a 529 plan like College Savings Iowa can be. According to education researchers, children are 6 times more likely to attend an institute of higher education if they have a savings account in their name.
Iowa Treasurer’s Mike Fitzgerald’s office is encouraging more people to open a dedicated savings account for education through a College Savings Iowa giveaway. One winner will receive a $1,000 College Savings Iowa contribution along with an iPad. From September 1 – September 30, Iowa residents have the opportunity to register children under the age of 18 in the giveaway. Celebrate College Savings Month by entering at Iowa529Contest.com.
More Iowa News
LAST DOLLAR SCHOLAR IS POPULAR DUE TO FREE TUTION
Iowa’s Last Dollar Scholar program has been extremely popular, and is aimed at filling in tuition assistance needs for students to finish their (2-year) credential at a community college or non-profit college in a targeted area of study where there is a workforce need. Under the program, students are able to complete a program tuition free.
The numbers show exponential growth of the program:
- Fiscal Year 2020, recipients of 6,547
- Fiscal Year 2021, recipients of 7,864 or a 20% increase over FY 20.
- Fiscal Year 2022, projected to have 8,300 recipients, or a 5.5% increase in recipients in FY 22.
After a $10 million increase, the Education budget currently funds the program at $23 million. However, with the increased estimated numbers of students in the program, the College Student Aid Commission recently announced a transfer of an additional $400,000 to cover the need. With the transfer they predict it will meet the need in Fiscal Year 2022, but they will continue to monitor.
STATE PARK VOLUNTEER DAY SEPTEMBER 25
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting its annual statewide volunteer day at state parks on September 25th. Nineteen state parks across the state will have projects ready for volunteers. Projects include picking up litter, painting, clearing trails, removing trees, planting trees, and building picnic tables. People of all ages are encouraged to participate. To find a park near you to volunteer at, visit: https://www.iowadnr.gov/About-DNR/Volunteer-Opportunities.
Additionally, the DNR is currently running a camping promotion. Campers who book a campsite for both Tuesday and Wednesday nights will receive Thursday night free. The promotion runs through October 31st. Use the code FallFun21 at checkout. Reservations can be made online: