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12-23-2020
When 2020 arrived a year or so ago I thought, jeez it’s 2020. How did that happen? 2020 always seemed so distant in the 80’s, 90’s and early 00s. When 2020 finally arrived, it felt like a milestone.
 
As 2020 comes to a close, it will take its place as a profoundly defining year that will hold some of the worst and perhaps best memories that will be shared globally for the next 100 years!
 
There were a lot of lessons learned in 2020. We would be screwed without the guidance and help of experts in our local, state and federal governments! Science should guide our decisions. After all it’s responsible for the vaccine discoveries.
 
Be prepared. Our local schools and teachers are fundamental to our economy on multiple levels. Our health care workforce is amazing. And, while some people don’t like to admit it, we are all dependent on each other.
 
I’m feeling like 2021 is going to be another challenging year. We have so much to do together to beat the virus. We need to continue to be patient and kind and help each other every day to get to the other side of this pandemic. We can do it!
 
Best wishes for Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
 
--Joe
 
PS. Please don’t to hesitate to stay in touch. My email address is joe.bolkcom@legis.iowa.gov or my home phone number is 319-337-6280.





 

MEETING IOWA’S PRESSING NEEDS

 
As 2020 comes to an end, most of us would agree it’s been a year like no other.
 
Fortunately, there is light on the horizon. Vaccines are being rolled out; Congress has approved a long-overdue relief package; and State Senators and Representatives will be back to work for Iowans when the legislative session starts in January.
 
The pandemic has presented new needs and exacerbated long-standing concerns. During the 2021 session, I will focus on:
  1. Ending Iowa’s Covid crisis, including safe, effective and free vaccines.
     
  2. Meeting the most critical needs of Iowans, small businesses and communities.
     
  3. Rebuilding our broken economy.
     
  4. Improving opportunity and quality of life in every corner of the state.
 
The number of Iowans out of work remains high. In fact, fewer Iowans are working today than 10 years ago at this time. It’s taking a toll on Iowa families.
 


 

Since the pandemic began, many Iowans who have never lacked for food are heading to food pantries. More than 300,000 Iowans—including more than 100,000 children—are struggling with hunger, according to Feeding America.
 
That’s why I’ve joined the call for the Legislature to provide additional resources to help hungry Iowans. We can use some of the state's "rainy day funds" for supplemental food assistance and to boost food banks, food pantries and other feeding entities.
 
Options include:
  • Supporting community grocery stores and families by providing additional funds to the 150,000 Iowa households already eligible for supplemental nutrition assistance.
     
  • Supporting Iowa farmers and families by helping programs to purchase fresh produce, dairy and meat.
     
  • Providing more resources to food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, congregate meal providers and other community food assistance efforts.
 
The state has put aside some of your hard-earned tax dollars for rainy days like this. We have the resources and the heart to make sure Iowa families can get the food they need. Let’s get out the umbrellas and help our friends and neighbors make it through the storm.
 

Food assistance available now

Not getting enough nutritious food to eat can impact health, wellbeing and development. If you or someone you know needs food, here are a few resources and organizations that are prepared to help right now:  
 
 

VACCINE ROLL OUT UNDER WAY

 

 
COVID-19 vaccines began rolling into Iowa last week. The work of our scientists and government regulators to fast-track testing and approval of these vaccines is a testament to ingenuity and their commitment to the greater good.
 
The vaccines have been purchased by the federal government with your tax dollars and will be provided without charge to everyone 16 and older who wants them. Because the number of vaccines currently available is limited, Iowa’s Infectious Disease Advisory Council is prioritizing those at highest risk of severe infection for earliest vaccination.
 
The first vaccines are going to health care workers at greatest risk for exposure to the virus and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. More than 120,000 Iowans work in hospitals and nursing and residential care settings, and more than 22,000 Iowans live in nursing facilities.
 
The Council’s goals in prioritizing vaccine recipients are to save lives, enhance public health, maintain social and economic activity, and reduce the extra burden many Iowans have faced due to COVID-19.
 
The complete roll out is expected to take several months. In the meantime, we must continue following the recommendations of public health experts—masking up, keeping our distance from others and staying home when not feeling well—to ensure a successful end to the pandemic.
 
Learn more about the Iowa and national strategies for distributing coronavirus vaccines:  
 
 

NEWS YOU CAN USE

 

Mental wellness during the holidays

 
Taking care of your physical and mental wellness has never been more important. During a holiday season in which many traditions aren’t possible, the risks of depression and anxiety are especially high.
 
But help is available:
  • COVID Recovery Iowa offers free, confidential virtual counseling and assistance for all Iowans affected by COVID-19. Counselors are available 24/7 to provide emotional support and connect you to community resources.
  • Iowa Warm: 1-844-775-9276. The Warm Line is staffed by individuals who have faced similar challenges and are in recovery themselves.
     
  • Iowa Concern: 800-447-1985. Iowa has access to an attorney for legal education, stress counselors, and information and referral services on a wide variety of topics.
     
  • Your Life Iowa: Call 1-855-581-8111, text 1-855-895-8398, or online chat at yourlifeiowa.org. Free, confidential support and resources for problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, suicidal thoughts or mental health.
     
  • Spanish Helpline: 531-800-3687. This line provides Spanish-speaking Iowans with information, resources and support. It’s staffed by professionals from the Latino community. All the information is confidential.
 
 

Drive sober this holiday season

 

 
Through January 1, law enforcement will expand its presence on the roads to remove impaired drivers and help save lives.
 
In 2018, 27% of all Iowa traffic fatalities—85 lives lost—involved alcohol-impaired driving. Across the country that year, one person was killed every 50 minutes by a drunk driver.
 
Most folks aren’t going out and about as much as they do most years, but that’s no reason to take chances. Getting pulled over for an OWI can cost you $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, repairs and lost time at work.
 
If you’ll be celebrating, plan ahead for a sober ride home.
 
 

Has your driver’s license expired?

 
Due to the pandemic, expiration dates were waived for driver’s licenses that expired after January 16, 2020. That provision expires on January 8, 2021, and normal driver’s license renewal requirements will again be in effect.
 
Check the expiration date on your card. If it has expired or will expire soon, see if you can renew online through the Iowa Department of Transportation website.
 
If you’re unable to do so, find a nearby location to renew in person. Be sure to schedule an appointment for service well in advance, as it may take a few weeks to get in.
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