As the temperatures begin to rise, please watch out for your neighbors and the elderly. The next week or so looks to be much warmer than normal for this time of year.
Freedom festival activities will be beginning soon. I hope to see many of you out there enjoying all that the Metro area has to offer and to celebrate the season.
It was great to see so many of you at the Pride parade in NewBo. Supporting my constituents has always been my reason for serving, and I will continue to put the people first.
The primaries are now over-but our work is not finished. We have opportunities to flip seats —and elect a new Govenor. I ask all my supporters to pledge to vote, and if you can help candidates in someway-please do.
Corporate Greed Pushes Costs Higher for Families
Hardworking Iowa families are finding it harder to get by, while corporations and CEOs see record-high profits. The top five oil companies brought in more than $35 billion in profits in the first three months of this year. Concurrently, families are struggling with the rising cost of living and gas. An average CEO made $10.5 million a year, while average worker took home just $41,535.
It’s time to fight back against price gouging and corporate greed. We should be supporting families and their pocketbooks with initiatives like:
Meanwhile, Republican politicians and the Governor passed legislation last session that treats working Iowans unfairly including:
- Giving tax cuts for working families instead of massive handouts to big corporations.
- Raising wages to ensure Iowans can hold onto more of their hard-earned money.
- Expanding Iowa’s renewable energy economy, while encouraging energy independence.
- Expanding access to affordable child care so that parents can provide for their families.
Iowa House Democratic lawmakers will continue to work on legislation to put more money in the pockets of Iowa families and help them with rising costs.
- Cutting earned unemployment benefits for Iowans struggling to find a good job.
- Insulting our local public schools, teachers, and librarians, in turn making it harder to provide a high-quality education.
- Lowering safety and quality standards at child care facilities.
- Making it easier for out-of-state corporations’ landlords to raise rent and evict Iowans from their mobile homes.
Radon Testing in Iowa Schools
Now Law Iowa schools will now be required to do more radon testing and mitigation thanks to a bill that was signed into law this year.
While many school districts are already addressing the problem, the new law will require all schools to implement radon testing by 2027, and at least once every five years after that. Schools must also have a plan to mitigate any radon issues to protect kids and staff.
Iowa has some of the highest radon levels in the country. Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that can cause multiple health problems. It is the number one cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers, and is commonly found in basements and older buildings, including schools. Radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.
The bill, HF 2412, has been titled the “Gail Orcutt School Safety Radon Act”. Gail was a strong advocate of Radon safety and testing. She has advocated for this bill for many years before losing her battle to radon induced lung cancer in 2020.
New Offerings at Iowa Breweries and Wineries
Those visiting their local Iowa winery or brewery may notice some upcoming changes in lieu of a new alcohol reform bill that became law this year. Some of the more substantial changes that Iowans will notice include, being allowed to purchase Iowa-produced spirits (such as whisky or vodka) at wineries, along with seeing an increase in overall alcohol content in beer that is produced in Iowa, from 15 percent to 19 percent.
The wide-ranging alcohol reform bill, Senate File 2374, also streamlines the licensing process in the state for establishments such as bars and grocery stores, and eliminates duplicative or unnecessary permits.
Iowa has more than 100 breweries throughout the state along with nearly 100 wineries that are members of the wine growers institute. In 2021, tax revenue from wine and beer sales equaled more than $18 million. Licensed facilities sold more than 95.8 million gallons of beer and 6.2 million gallons of wine, of which 1,149,911 gallons were Iowa beers and 167,436 gallons of Iowa wines.
Get an Iowa Wine and Beer Passport
Be sure to take advantage of the Iowa Wine and Beer Passport before you visit a brewery or winery in Iowa this year. The passport allows you to track your visits while supporting locally owned wineries and breweries. To sweeten the deal, the Iowa Wine and Beer Promotion Board is offering a free t-shirt to the first 400 participants (per passport) that check-in at six participating wineries or breweries! To get a passport or find a local winery or brewery, go to: sip.iowawineandbeer.com.
Iowa’s Graduation Rates Drop Slightly
Iowa high schools saw slightly fewer students graduating on time in 2021. New state data, released by the Iowa Department of Education (DE), shows that 90.2 percent of students in Iowa’s class of 2021 graduated within four years, down from 91.8 percent for the class of 2020. Iowa has led the nation in recent years on graduation rates, but it is unclear if this will drop their ranking until more national data becomes available.
Since 2011, Iowa’s four-year graduation rate climbed 1.9 percent overall, with large long-term gains in nearly every student demographic subgroup. However, 2021 obviously presented several challenges for students to graduate on time, such as school closures and online learning.
Iowa received nearly $775 million through a third round of federal relief funding for Pre-K-12 schools to address a variety of pandemic-related expenses and strategies. At least 20 percent of the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funds available to school districts must be used to address disruptions to learning caused by the pandemic. Districts have until September 2024 to put these funds to use.
Achievement GAP Data Released
The DE released additional data related to Iowa’s ability to address the students of color achievement gap. Iowa continues to become more diverse with 27 percent of Iowa K-12 public school students being students of color. This is a 163 percent increase in enrollment over the past 20 years.
The report shows that in most grades, the achievement gap stayed the same or increased. From the 2019-20 school year to the 2020-21 school year:
The report can be found here: educateiowa.gov/documents/iowa-state-board-education/2022/06/22-06-09-closing-achievement-gaps-report-2022.
- Hispanic/white achievement gap decreased for grade 11, and the gap stayed the same or increased for all other grades
- Black/white achievement gap decreased for grades 4, 7 and 11, and increased or stayed the same for all other grades
More Federal Dollars Available to Iowa Child Care Providers
Additional federal money has been released for Iowa child care providers. This is great news for the state, as it moves us forward in making child care more accessible and affordable in Iowa. The third round of assistance can be used for purposes such as: personnel costs, rent, health/safety expenses, equipment/supplies related to COVID-19, maintenance services, and mental health.
To be considered eligible for the the Childcare Stabilization Program:
For more information on how to apply for these grants, please visit: dhs.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/Comm639.pdf...
- A child care provider must be a licensed child care center or a registered child development home to qualify.
- The program must be open and providing child care services or temporarily closed due to reasons related to COVID-19.
- The program or provider was previously ineligible and has not received any stabilization grants.
Other Iowa News
IOWA AWARDED MILLIONS IN CONSUMER PROTECTION: Attorney General Tom Miller’s office announced that through the work of Iowa’s Consumer Protection Program, Iowans have received at least $178.67 million from consumer protection settlements in the last 10 years. This includes $169.69 million in consumer restitution from multistate settlements and $8.97 million in savings for consumers obtained through complaint mediation. Complaint mediation consists primarily of debt forgiveness, contractual releases, and other money the Consumer Protection Division saved on a consumer’s behalf. The Consumer Protection Division investigates complaints from consumers over unfair and deceptive acts stemming from Iowa Consumer Fraud Act violations. Iowans who feel they have been wronged and are owed money may file a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General, call 888-777-4590, or email email@example.com.
GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR NONPROFITS: Many nonprofits in Iowa have experienced financial hardship over the last few years, forcing some to push aside needed improvements. Luckily, Iowa nonprofits will soon be able to apply for grants for infrastructure projects including: construction costs, acquisition, site development, and engineering and architectural services. Qualifying nonprofits are eligible for grants ranging from $500,000 to $3 million. An informational webinar will be held on June 23, 2022, with application acceptance starting June 27, 2022. The total funding for this project is $20 million thanks to President Biden and the American Rescue Plan. More information on the grants can be found at: iowaeda.com/nonprofit-innovation-fund/?preview=yes&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.
FUEL TAX FOR CERTAIN BIOFUELS DROPS: Any diesel vehicle that uses B-11 or higher will see a slight cost decrease at the pump due to an upcoming change in the tax rate. The fuel tax on Biodiesel classified as B-11 or higher will decrease from $0.304 to $0.301 per gallon starting on July 1, 2022. This is in part because fuel taxes are based on a fuel distribution percentage formula. Since the distribution of biofuels classified as B-11 and higher increased over the past year, those fuels now fall into a different (lower) fuel tax rate. Before July 1, 2020, the Department of Revenue used the Iowa Fuel Tax Monthly reports to determine these rates. Starting in 2021, the Department instead started using the Iowa Retailers Fuel Gallons Annual Report. The change in reporting method also contributed to this change in rates. For additional information on Iowa Fuel Taxes go to: tax.iowa.gov/other-iowa-fuel-tax-information.
I have been honored to represent all of you in house district 68 for this last session as well as those of you in my future senate district 37.
I thank you for your support as your State Representative, and I look forward to your continued support as I work to become your new State Senator next session.
I understand there are some who have a different opinion about the legislation and choices made on the floor, but I hope to keep communication lines open for all to continue to share their concerns with me.
It is my plan, as always, to work with everyone in the Capitol to better my district and the state. I look forward to bipartisan efforts that I know we will have to move Iowa forward. But I am also up for the fight to push for a better Iowa and different priorities for Iowans.
Please follow my Facebook page for updates on what’s happening around the district. I will do my best to kept events listed there over the coming months.
Go to the link below and like my legislative page to keep up to date:
As your representative, I am available throughout the year for questions, concerns, and suggestions. Please contact me if you have any concerns, questions, or comments:
It is truly an honor to serve you and I am looking forward to what the future brings in senate district 37 in 2022.