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Statehouse News 

Greetings,

It has been a busy couple of weeks in the district as well as around the nation. Here is just a quick overview of events coming up here in area- I hope to see you there! 



https://facebook.com/events/s/music-in-the-courtyard-looking/773653693644550/



https://facebook.com/events/s/marion-farmers-market-taube-pa/311925714414490/

 

If you’re interested in having a booth or a table full out the form below. https://facebook.com/events/s/hsm-at-art-in-the-park/3190328837951470/ 

to register now!https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd_dm658OnfvgA-EVFDPTdT3WEGoGEewQ0Hv0smcQEUhB_4-g/viewform?usp=sf_link 

These are just a few events happening this week around the area but there are so many more. To get involved or to participate in some of the fun things happening in the area make sure you are keeping up-to-date via Facebook on the events pages or the city web sites.

Next Tuesday night is national night out in Cedar Rapids and Marion. Neighborhood gatherings out at parks for kids and their families to come out and meet with police officers, firemen/women, play some games, have dinner, and just have a good time with others from your neighborhood. Check to see where the closest neighborhood gathering will be to you -so that you can participate in this wonderful evening out. 

Campaigns have been in full swing with visits from Deidre Dejear, Liz Mathis, John Norwood, as well as Rob Sand here in the Metro area. 

To keep up with candidates and elected officials throughout the state over the coming months make sure to go to their Facebook pages, Twitter pages, and websites of those candidates you’d like to find out more about. 

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be busy participating in meetings with businesses, city officials, county officials, and constituent work. 

For those interested in sharing your concerns or just talking about the great things happening in this area, I am available Sunday mornings at 9 AM at Uptown Snug Coffee in Marion -through the end of August. 


Easing the Burden on Iowa Families

Back to School Sales Tax Holiday

Hardworking Iowa families are finding it harder to get by. Things like fair wages, the ability to pay bills on time, good schools, affordable child care, and reducing the cost of gas and other living expenses are important to Iowans.

With the new school year approaching, there is some good news for Iowa families with the annual sales tax-free weekend on August 5 and 6. Sales tax will not be collected on any clothing sales, including footwear, that sells for less than $100. Learn more about the sales tax holiday at: tax.iowa.gov/iowas-annual-sales-tax-holiday.
 
While new tax giveaways to corporations and those at the top were enacted last session, more common-sense bills to support Iowans trying to pay the bills while costs are rising are needed.
 
One idea offered by Democratic lawmakers last session was to extend the sales tax holiday to give more families time to purchase back to school essentials. Other ideas included:
  • Raising wages to ensure Iowans can hold onto more of their hard-earned money.
  • Expanding Iowa’s renewable energy economy, encouraging energy independence - not reliant on foreign oil and the handful of corporations that control it.
  • Expanding access to affordable child care so that parents can provide for their families.
  • Holding out-of-state corporate landlords accountable.
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.
 

Iowa Attorney General Proposes Changes to Address Fentanyl Crisis

In the last ten years the number of overdose deaths in Iowa has more than doubled, and that increase is almost entirely because of the presence of fentanyl in many illegal drugs. This month, Attorney General Tom Miller, along with Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald, proposed legislative changes to address the rising risk of fentanyl in the state.

In addition to launching a task force to address opioid use in the state, the Attorney General proposed two changes to the law to address the increased use of fentanyl. One of those changes would be to legalize fentanyl test strips. This would allow people to determine if substances contain fentanyl. The Attorney General also called for greater availability of naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan. Naloxone can be used in an emergency when a person is suffering from an opioid overdose that can rapidly reverse the life-threatening effects of an overdose.

      

In 2021, 258 Iowans died of opioid overdoses, an increase of 21 percent over 2020, according to preliminary data from the Iowa Department of Public Health. About 83 percent of those deaths involved fentanyl or other synthetic narcotics.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, similar to oxycodone or heroin, that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl was developed for severe pain management, such as for cancer patients, but can be abused similar to other opioids. The Attorney General also pointed out that because fentanyl is cheaper to produce it is now often mixed into other completely unrelated drugs, like cocaine.

Iowans seeking substance abuse help

Iowa has set up a referral system called "Your Life Iowa'' for people seeking help with a range of problems, including mental health issues and drug or alcohol abuse. The free program links Iowans with counselors and can refer them to a range of treatment options. Go to yourlifeiowa.org, call 855-581-8111, or text 855-895-8398. Iowans can also dial 9-8-8 and get immediate mental health crisis assistance.

 

Iowa’s Unemployment Percentage an Illusion

Despite claims of economic growth and low unemployment, a recent report by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA) shows the state with a low surplus of jobs. Nearly 40,000 Iowans are wondering how they will put food on their families table, as Iowa remains almost 40,000 jobs below the high employment peak of February 2020. The same report shows that Iowa’s share of employment growth compared to the United States is the lowest in history, meaning the rest of the country is adding jobs faster than Iowa.

These reports are confirmed by another study by State Policy Reports that shows Iowa ranks 40th in both State Economic Momentum and Employment Growth. The state also ranked 38th in the country on personal income.

Iowa’s current low unemployment rate could reflect not enough people are living or staying in Iowa to fill positions. More and more business leaders are concerned about Iowa’s unwelcoming climate when recruiting new workers to the state. The new rate could also indicate many older Iowans are opting out of the workforce entirely. In fact, fewer Iowans are working today than when Governor Kim Reynolds first took office.

Instead of focusing on real solutions to fix Iowa’s workforce shortage crisis, Republican lawmakers negotiated behind closed doors with special interests to take away earned unemployment from Iowans who lost a job through no fault of their own. Iowa working families deserve better, like increasing wages, requiring wealthy corporations to pay what they owe, and attracting workers by making Iowa a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

 

Informational Meetings Set for Third Carbon Pipeline

A third pipeline company is set to hold informational meetings to discuss a proposal to build and operate a carbon capture pipeline system in Iowa. Wolf Carbon Solutions joins two other companies, Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures, that have previously held informational meetings to discuss moving forward with proposed carbon pipelines. 

The proposal from Wolf would capture carbon dioxide from ADM ethanol plants in Cedar Rapids and Clinton and transport it in an underground pipeline to Illinois where it will be pumped into an underground storage facility. The proposed pipeline would go through Johnson, Cedar, Linn, Clinton, and Scott counties.

These informational meetings are the first step in the process that Wolf must take in order to be granted a permit from the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) to build the pipeline. Below are the dates, times, and locations of the informational meetings. The last meeting will be held virtually, and persons can go to the IUB’s Hearing and Meeting Calendar webpage for information on how to participate.

Johnson County – Aug. 29, 2022 – 12pm - North Liberty Community Center (Gerdin Conference Hall), 520 W, Cherry Street, North Liberty

Cedar County – Aug. 29, 2022 – 6pm – Tipton High School (Auditorium), 400 E. Sixth Street, Tipton

Linn County – Aug. 30, 2022 – 12pm – Veterans Memorial Building, 50 Second Ave Bridge, Cedar Rapids

Clinton County – Aug. 30, 2022 – 6pm – Wild Rose Convention Center, 777 Wild Rose Drive, Clinton

Scott County – Aug. 31, 2022 – 12pm – RiverCenter (Adler Theater), 136 E. Third Street, Davenport

Virtual Meeting – Sept. 19, 2022 – 6pm – Information on IUB’s Hearing and Meeting Calendar

Please go to the IUB’s July 14, 2022 press release announcing the informational meetings for more information including a map of the proposed route.

 

Rent and Utility Assistance Program Ending Soon

In January 2021, Iowa received $195 million to keep Iowans who were impacted by COVID in their homes. The Rent and Utility Assistance Program, created to pay for past due rent, future rent, and past due utility bills, will be ending on August 30th.  

Iowans who are behind on rent or utility payments can still take advantage of the program. Eligible applicants must have a household income no more than 80% of area median income, have experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19, and can show either an inability to pay rent and or utilities, or are at a risk of experiencing homelessness. More information on eligible households and the application can be found on the Iowa Finance Authority’s website, iowafinance.com/iowa-rent-and-utility-assistance-program/.

Polk County has their own rental assistance program which will continue for the foreseeable future. Renters are eligible for up to 12 months of rental assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Eligible renters must have experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19 and must be past due on their rent.  Polk County residents can visit IMPACT’s website, impactcap.org/erap to fill out the applications or call 515-518-4770 with questions.   

If you are at imminent risk of eviction and need legal assistance, Iowa Legal Aid may be able to assist you at no cost at: iowalegalaid.org/resource/eviction-during-covid-pandemic#CDC.

 

Other Iowa News

SUBSTITUTE TEACHING REGULATIONS SET TO BE STRENGTHENED: Last month, the Governor vetoed a bipartisan bill allowing para educators, with a substitute authorization, to substitute teach in grades K-12 for just the remainder of the 2021-22 school year. The vetoed bill, House File 2493, also required schools to make a good-faith effort to employ a substitute teacher who is not a para educator, and required the para educator, if they are hired, to be paid at the higher substitute teacher or para educator wage. Now a month later the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) reported to the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee, that they will seek a permanent change in the rule on para educators that will now allow them to substitute teach. The new rule will require that school districts: 1) Try to hire a regular authorized substitute teacher, and 2) Pay the para educator the substitute teacher wage or para educator wage, whichever is the higher.


ADA ACT CELEBRATES 32ND ANNIVERSARY: This week, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will celebrate 32 years of being law. Signed by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, ADA changed the landscape of America by requiring buildings and transportation to be wheelchair accessible, and to provide workplace accommodations for people with disabilities. The law also gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. Former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin authored the final bill and delivered a speech on the Senate floor in American Sign Language upon passage of the landmark legislation. Since the law’s enactment, the ADA has become a major component for employment protections and has led to significant access improvements to public services and societal understanding of the disability community. Iowans who think a school, employer, or business is not complying with the ADA may file a complaint with a federal agency or call the ADA hotline at 800-514-0301. Happy Birthday, ADA!


GRANTS AWARDED TO ADDRESS DERELICT BUILDINGS: Seven grants were awarded to deconstruct or renovate derelict buildings. Given out by the Department of Natural Resources, the funding can be used to help renovate old buildings, but also to remove asbestos, recycle or reuse old building materials, and help limit construction and demolition material from going to the landfill. New grants are available again for 2023, and are awarded to communities with populations of 5,000 or less. The next application deadline will be due on Feb. 24, 2023. To view all the communities that received funding for 2022 and to learn more, go to: iowadnr.gov/About-DNR/DNR-News-Releases/ArticleID/4110/DNR-Derelict-Building-Grant-Program-awards-grants-to-rural-communities.


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:
 
https://m.facebook.com/DonahueForIA/
 
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:
 
https://m.facebook.com/DonahueForIA/
 
Molly.Donahue@legis.iowa.gov
 
It is truly an honor to serve you and I am looking forward to what the future brings in senate district 37 in 2022. 
 
Warmest regards,

 

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