The Iowa Climate Statement 2020: Will COVID 19 Lessons Help Us Survive Climate Change? was released last week. It was written by Iowa’s leading climate scientists and endorsed by a record 230 science faculty and researcher from 37 Iowa colleges and universities. Here is a link to the statement and news conference video.
“Our Children Spoke” Mural Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: Friday, October, 23, 3:30pm-5pm at the mural site located at the entrance of Faith Academy, 1030 Cross Park Avenue, Iowa City. Celebrate the South District’s 4,400-square-foot mural painted by South District residents and inspired by neighborhood youth. Park in the Pepperwood parking lot and walk over to the mural. MASKS/FACE COVERINGS ARE REQUIRED and will be available if you need one.
Johnson County Voters!
We’re just 19 days from the 2020 election. There are many convenient opportunities to vote in Johnson County? What is your plan?
Johnson County early voting for the November presidential election began at 8 AM on Monday, October 5. Voting is at the parking ramp north of the Johnson County Health and Human Services Building, 855 S. Dubuque St. The entrance to drive-up voting will be off Clinton Street. Voting hours will be 8 AM to 5 PM weekdays through Monday, November 2.
Drive-up voting will also be open:Saturday, October 24, 8 AM - 5 PM
Sunday, October 25, 10 AM - 4 PM
Saturday, October 31, 8 AM - 4 PM
Sunday, November 1, 10 AM - 4 PM
The following satellite voting sites will be available:Coralville Public Library
1401 5th St., Coralville
Friday, October 16, 10 AM - 3 PM
Saturday, October 17, 10 AM - 4 PM
Sunday, October 18, 10 AM - 2 PM
North Liberty Community Library
520 W Cherry St.
Saturday, October 17, 11 AM - 3 PM
Sunday, October 18, 1 - 4 PM
Iowa City Public Library
123 S. Linn St.
Monday, October 19 through Friday, October 23, 10 AM - 4 PM
Saturday, October 24, 10 AM - 5 PM
Monday, October 26 through Thursday, October 29, 11 AM - 6 PM
Friday, October 30, 10 AM - 6 PM
Saturday, October 31, 10 AM - 4 PM
Iowa Memorial Union
125 N. Madison St., Iowa City, Hubbard Lounge
Monday, October 19 through Friday, October 23, 9 AM – 3 PM
Comprehensive election and voting information
Check out activateiowa.org/how-to-vote
Make a plan to vote to eliminate last-minute confusion and ensure you know your options:
- Decide how to vote (by mail or in-person).
- Decide when to vote (early or on Election Day).
- Decide where to vote (at a polling place or the county auditor’s office).
Voting after a criminal conviction
Most Iowans who have a felony conviction are now eligible to vote. You can vote if:
- You have discharged your sentence, meaning you aren’t incarcerated for a felony, or on probation, parole, supervised release or subject to a special sentence.
- You were not convicted of felony under Iowa Code Chapter 707. If you were, you must apply to have your voting rights restored through the Iowa Governor's office.
- You still owe fines, fees or restitution. You must pay those debts, but they aren’t tied to your ability to vote.
Get complete details at aclu-ia.org/en/can-i-vote-iowa-after-criminal-conviction.
Constitutional convention question on ballot
Iowans will notice on the back of their ballot this year a question that reads, “Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution, and propose amendment or amendments to same?” Voters can respond “yes” or “no.”
This question is not related to any particular issue, legislation or policy. It’s a legally required question that appears on the ballot every 10 years. In 2010, the question was voted down 2 to 1.
If the question was to pass, the Legislature would organize a constitutional convention at which delegates could propose any changes they want to the Iowa Constitution. I voted NO.
Judges on the ballot this year
Many Iowa judges will be up for a retention vote in this year’s election. Voters decide whether to retain a judge based on the judge's professional competency. Judges who receive a majority of "yes" votes may serve another full term. Find qualifications and background of judges on the ballot in the 2020 Iowa Voter's Judicial Directory.
JOBS & ECONOMY
Pandemic Consequence: Women Leaving the Workforce
Iowans continue to struggle with significant job losses and high unemployment as coronavirus cases soar in our state.
In particular, the pandemic threatens to erase economic gains made by women in recent decades. At the end of 2019, women held more than half the payroll jobs. Women now make up less than half of the workforce.
A new Department of Labor report shows that nationally, women are leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men. During the pandemic, 865,000 women left the labor force compared to 216,000 men.
This is happening across sectors. Iowa’s nonfarm employment in August was down 92,100 jobs from a year ago. The hospitality and leisure industries have been hardest hit, down 30,100 jobs from a year ago. Many of those jobs are held by women, particularly women of color.
The coronavirus has negatively affected all of us, but an especially large burden has been borne by women:
- 80 percent of people leaving the workforce in September were women.
- 1 in 4 women in corporate America are considering leaving, resigning or downshifting her career.
- 1 in 5 working-age adults is unemployed because Covid-19 upended their child care, with women being nearly three times more likely than men to remain at home for the kids.
The pandemic makes clear that we need more policies that support working families—particularly women in the workplace. Our economy will only benefit when we prioritize their needs. Paid family leave, closing the gender pay gap, ensuring living wages and more child care options are good places to start.
With record-high hospitalizations in Iowa, more than 100,000 positive COVID cases and more than 1,500 COVID deaths, please continue to wear a mask in public, keep your distance from others and stay home when sick.
Recovery Board releases recommendations
Iowa’s Economy Recovery Advisory Board convened this year to gather input from Iowans on what we need to do to bounce back from the toll the pandemic has taken on family finances, businesses, health care, communities and schools.
Recommendations released October 6 align well with proposals I support to put Iowans first. They include:
- Child care and early learning opportunities that meet family needs.
- Affordable broadband that supports health, learning and work in all sectors.
- Ensuring every Iowa community is a safe, desirable place to call home.
- Expanding our health care workforce and innovative ways to provide health care.
- Improving career readiness with a greater variety of educational choices.
- Creating good jobs through modern manufacturing and biosciences.
I look forward to the 2021 legislative session when we can work together to make these ideas a reality for Iowans.
Read the Board’s complete recommendations.
HEALTH CARE UPDATES
Health insurance open enrollment approaches
Open enrollment runs from November 1 through December 15 for Iowans purchasing or changing their Affordable Care Act health coverage for 2021.
Local insurance agents, assisters and Iowa’s navigator can help Iowans find the insurance plan that best fits their needs. Find local help at localhelp.HealthCare.gov.
Medica and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa will offer ACA-compliant individual health insurance plans for Iowans in all 99 counties. If you currently have coverage through the exchange and do not choose a plan for 2021 by the end of open enrollment, you will be re-enrolled into the same or similar plan.
During open enrollment, Iowans may call 1-800-318-2596 or visit healthcare.gov for enrollment information and to calculate applicable tax credits. For more information on the ACA in Iowa, visit iid.iowa.gov/aca-background.
Medicaid members can change MCOs
A majority of current IA Health Link and Hawki members can change their Managed Care Organization for any reason through October 30. However, members are not being reassigned and do not have to change MCOs if they don't want to. Get complete details at dhs.iowa.gov/iahealthlink/open-choice.
New tool simplifies Medicare plan selection
Medicare open enrollment runs from October 15 to December 7. The National Council on Aging’s online tool, My Medicare Matters, can help in choosing a plan. Visitors can take an assessment to evaluate their health coverage needs, review plan options and estimated costs, or speak with a Medicare agency partner.
NEWS YOU CAN USE
Public union recertification
Recertification elections for Iowa’s public employee unions began October 13 and run through 9 a.m. October 27.
There are two ways for public employees to vote to recertify their union:
- To vote by phone, call 877-639-7161.
- To vote via web, go to vote.yeselections.com/iaperb.
If you experience any problems with the voting system or need assistance, call 800-503-8671. For questions about the election process, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 515-281-4414.
COVID-19 utility disruption prevention for Iowans
A new Residential Utility Disruption Prevention Program will provide eligible households with up to $2,000 towards electric, natural gas and water bills if they are at risk of disconnection due to a COVID-19 related loss of income. Funding comes from the federal CARES Act.
To be eligible, a residential electric, natural gas and/or water utility customer must have:
- A primary Iowa residence with active residential utility accounts.
- An unpaid utility bill balance or payment plan with their utility provider.
- An annual income that is 80% or less of the median family income, based on county and household size.
- Experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19 that prevented them from paying utility bills between March 17 and October 31.
For additional information and to apply, visit iowahousingrecovery.com.
Grants available for diesel vehicles
Through December 7, the Iowa Department of Transportation is accepting grant applications for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act Program.
The program aims to reduce diesel emissions from school buses, transit buses and trucks, marine engines, locomotives and other nonroad equipment. Iowa school districts, transit systems and company fleet managers or other interested applicants can get complete details at the DERA grant website.
Iowa Legal Aid mobile app
Iowa Legal Aid has created a Disaster Legal Assistance Mobile app. In the event of a disaster, the app allows you to get real-time weather alerts, locate emergency shelters, find sources of aid and chat with Iowa Legal Aid staff.
The app contains:
- A checklist of items you should have ready to go at a moment's notice.
- An emergency plan feature to help your family think about where to meet if you are separated.
- An insurance records area to upload important insurance information so that you have it on hand.
- Articles and information on disaster recovery and your legal rights.
- Links to websites with helpful disaster relief information.
- Contact information for disaster relief and human services agencies.
Download the app from your mobile device app store. Learn more iowalegalaid.org/resource/iowa-legal-aid-disaster-app.