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NEWS 5.25.22

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Iowa lawmakers ended their legislative session, about five weeks behind schedule because of a dispute over education spending.

The Senate and House adjourned early Wednesday without reaching agreement on Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to divert $55 million from public schools toward taxpayer-funded scholarships for up to 10,000 students to attend private schools.

Since convening in January, Republicans who hold large majorities in each chamber did work with the governor to pass significant legislation. That includes big tax cuts, a plan to allow grocers to opt out of bottle recycling, cut to unemployment benefits and a bill that prohibits transgender females from participating in girls high school sports and women’s college athletics.

Deer hunters will be able to use semi-automatic rifles during a newly created antlerless season in January under a bill approved by lawmakers and sent to the governor. The measure given final approval Tuesday by the House is designed to help control the deer population and respond to complaints that excess deer eat corn and are hazardous to motorists.

Charles City Democratic Rep. Todd Prichard, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, opposed the bill. He noted the AR-15-type rifles allowed for hunting were similar to those he was trained to use in the military and that ammunition authorized in the bill can travel up to 2½ miles.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds ordered flags in the state to be lowered to half-staff through sunset on Saturday to honor and remember the victims of yesterday’s school shooting in Texas that killed 19 students and two teachers.

On Twitter, Senator Chuck Grassley said he will continue to push for Congress to pass his EAGLES Act which would give schools & law enforcement more resources.

Representative Cindy Axne says her heart is with the victims, their loved ones, and the entire community. She added, “We cannot accept this epidemic of gun violence as our reality, we MUST pass laws to get guns off the streets.”

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Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is proposing a bill to use materials stockpiled for the border wall that have been sitting since the Biden administration stopped work on the wall.

The Republican told Radio Iowa, the federal report shows the government is paying three million dollars a day to keep the materials from being stolen, and her bill would solve that problem too.

She says states would apply for the materials.

Ernst says they are working on getting some bipartisan support — especially from states like Arizona — where border crossings have increased.

Iowa’s legislative session ended last night, five weeks after the target adjournment date.

The Republican majority passed many of Governor Kim Reynolds’ priorities like a flat income tax and cuts to unemployment benefits. But they failed to pass her plan for state-funded scholarships for private schools.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst (CON-first) says she’s disappointed the legislature didn’t take up Democratic proposals to fix the workforce crisis by improving access to child care and affordable housing.

“And instead what we did was we did a lot of rewarding of special interests. We made sure that the wealthiest Iowans got a tax cut and we left a lot of Iowans behind so I’m really disappointed. This session had potential and we missed the mark.”

Republican leaders say they’re proud of their work this session and that they hope to give parents more control over their kids’ education next year.

Federal officials are reporting 139 Iowans are hospitalized with COVID-19 as of today (Wednesday).

That’s a slight decrease from last week’s number of 146.

Additionally, state officials report more than 47 hundred positive COVID tests in the past seven days.

That marks a slight increase of less than 200 tests as compared to last week’s report.

The state has added 16 Iowans to its death count, bringing the total to more than 95 hundred.

The Center for Disease Control reports more than 62 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Health officials in central Iowa are urging residents to consider visiting their doctor or an urgent care facility instead of the emergency room if they don’t have a life or limb-threatening situation.

Officials say Polk County hospitals , and their emergency rooms, are currently operating at limited capacity due to a greater demand for beds and staffing shortages.

That’s as county hospitals are reporting an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations as well as summer trauma cases.

News release from the City of Sioux City:

Cold Link Breaks Ground in Sioux City’s Southbridge Business Park

Cold-Link Logistics, a Miami, Florida-based cold storage warehousing firm, is breaking ground on its multi-phased cold storage facility which will bring much-needed capacity to the area’s food processors. The company has committed to purchase approximately 37 acres of the City’s 27 Flags industrial site to construct the facility. The first phase of the project represents a capital investment of nearly $60 Million and will be the first industrial development on the site, creating 60 new jobs. The initial phase will include 185,000 square feet of cold storage warehousing space, approximately 20,000 pallet positions and blast freezing plus truck docks, offices, and mechanical areas. Future phases of the project will more than triple the size of the building. Construction began in March 2022 with an expected opening date in early 2023.

“This is a tremendous project that will play to our region’s strengths in the food processing industry,” says Mayor Bob Scott. “It’s good to see such a return on the City’s investment in Southbridge. Securing this type of project was a major goal of the City’s when we began buying land and building infrastructure in the area ten years ago.”

Construction of this new major facility will impact Sioux City positively in many ways. The project will provide significant increased property tax revenues, while creating minimal impacts on the City’s utility infrastructure. With an increasing demand for labor throughout the country, Cold- Link’s labor requirements stress quality over quantity. The company will staff the first phase with 60 employees, including 50 production staff at an hourly wage of over $23.00/hour.

“We were approached about locating in Iowa and were immediately intrigued given its role as a major food producer in the U.S.”, said Cold-Link Logistics President Michael Mandich.
“Sioux City became an ideal location due to many factors, but most importantly we were welcomed by State and Local leaders who truly valued the partnership and investment we were going to bring. Further support from the Federal New Market Tax Credit program enabled us to get this project over the goal line. We are truly excited to become a part of the Sioux City community and the great State of Iowa.”

“Iowa Area Development Group (IADG) was pleased to introduce the Cold-Link project to Sioux City,” said Bruce Hansen, Vice President Business Development, IADG. “The planning and significant infrastructure investment made in Southbridge Business Park by Sioux City leaders made the site selection process very efficient and effective.”

In the upcoming weeks, the City and Cold-Link will enter into an agreement for the sale of property which will also provide for a series of tax rebates to assist the project as well as necessary infrastructure projects including the extension of Alicia Avenue, a rail spur connected to the City’s drop-and-pull rail yard, and utilities. The City has been awarded significant funding from the IDOT’s Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy (RISE) Program as well as the Rail Revolving Loan and Grant program which will cover approximately 50% of the road and rail construction.

Cold-Link Logistics is a full service, Third-Party Logistics Company built on family values dedicated to serving their customer needs through designing specific solutions to meet the ever- increasing demand on cold chain innovation and efficiencies.

Sioux City, Iowa has consistently been ranked as a leading destination for the food processing industry and ranked #1 for overall economic development for similar size metro areas. The Cold-Link Project will assist in maintaining Sioux City’s role as a national leader in food production.

News release from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:

DES MOINES - Today, Gov. Reynolds released the following statements on the conclusion of the 2022 legislative session:

“This legislative session, I charged the House and Senate to work together to further advance Iowa’s strong growth through policies that cut taxes, invest in biofuels and strengthen our families, communities, schools, workforce and economy. I’m proud that our state is leading the nation in many of these areas and delivering on the promises we made to the people of Iowa.

“Iowa’s economy is expanding, our communities are flourishing, and our profile is rising. None of that would be possible without the businesses, community leaders, and educational institutions that form the bedrock of our communities. Most of all, it wouldn’t be possible without our people and the communities they call home. Thanks to them, there’s never been a better time to invest in Iowa, to move to Iowa, and to believe in Iowa. They are the source of our strength.”

Lt. Governor Gregg released the following statement:

"Governor Reynolds’ leadership has again benefited Iowans greatly and improved their everyday lives in areas that matter the most. Historic tax cuts, expanded child care availability, supporting public education, focusing efforts to get Iowans employed are just a few of the major initiatives passed this session that continue to make Iowa a great place to live, work and raise a family."

Key legislative priorities that passed during the 2022 Legislative Session: 

Tax Relief for Hardworking Iowans 

"Over the last five years, we've dramatically cut Iowans' taxes three times. It's no coincidence that during this same time, we've also earned a nationwide reputation for economic opportunity and widespread, broad-based prosperity. When I took office, Iowa had the 6th highest income tax rate in the nation at almost 9%. Now, after three historic tax reform packages, it’s set to be fourth lowest at 3.9%--flat and fair. And we’ve eliminated taxes on retirement income, starting next year. We’ve also reformed our corporate tax rate, once one of the highest in the nation at 12% now going down to 5.5%. Here’s what that all means for Iowans: the bill I signed this year will save taxpayers $1.9 billion a year. And if you add up the savings from all three major tax bills I’ve signed since taking office, that’s nearly $3 billion per year.”

Generational state tax reform that benefits all Iowans. 

  • 3.9% flat income tax for all Iowans. Individual tax reform is projected to save Iowa taxpayers more than $1.67 billion by tax year 2026. (HF2317) 
  • Fully repeals state taxes on retirement income in 2023. Beginning January 1, 2023, an estimated 294,624 Iowa taxpayers will see their retirement tax liability eliminated. (HF2317) 
  • Exempts farmer retirement income on either cash rent or capital gains tax. (HF2317) 
  • Common sense, pro-business corporate income tax reform including banking franchise tax reform, coupled with a reduction in refundable corporate tax credits. (HF2317 & SF2367) 
  • Exempts diapers and feminine hygiene products from sales tax (SF2367) 
  • Clears the Solar Energy Tax Credit waitlist (SF2367) 

Re-Employing Iowans and Expanding Child Care

"In Iowa, we’re taking bold action to ensure every employable Iowan finds a meaningful and fulfilling career. We’re turning our unemployment system into a re-employment system. We passed legislation that caps unemployment benefits at 16 weeks and took action to give job seekers one-on-one career coaching. In short, we’re helping Iowans get back to work sooner.”

  • Modernizes purpose of unemployment benefits to focus on reemployment (HF2355) 
  • Reduces weeks of regular unemployment from 26 to 16 weeks, and plant closure unemployment from 39 to 26 weeks to encourage quicker return to the workforce (HF2355) 
  • Prevents an employer’s account from being charged for an overpayment of unemployment benefits, if an employer’s failure to respond in a timely manner was due to insufficient notification by IWD (HF2355) 
  • Defines employee misconduct for unemployment matters to create consistent unemployment decisions (HF2355) 
  • Encourages return to work more quickly by accelerating the prior wage percentage reduction in the definition of suitable work more quickly (HF2355) 
  • Allows direct appeal of an ALJ’s unemployment decision to district court to provide swifter final resolution of claims (HF2355) 
  • Reforms Voluntary Shared Work (VSW) Program, preventing abuse and allowing use with part-time employees (HF2355) 
  • Prohibits duplicative local inspections of federally-inspected manufactured housing (SF2383) 
  • Requires annual reporting of Work Based Learning in schools (SF2383) 
  • Creates a work-based learning program supervisor for industry professionals to immediately start supervising WBL opportunities, so students can receive credit for WBL experiences (SF2383) 
  • Removes one-year out-of-state licensure requirement for universal license recognition (SF2383) 
  • Removes residency requirement for universal license recognition for most professions (SF2383) 
  • Offers temporary licensure for military spouses if they don’t qualify for universal license recognition (SF2383) 
  • Waives initial teaching license fees for those under 200% FPL (SF2383) 
  • Waives initial and first renewal licensure fee for all veterans (SF2383) 
  • Allows for temporary insurance licensure if background check takes more than 10 business days (SF2383) 
  • Creates a low-cost ($5) annual armed forces fishing and hunting license (SF2383) 
  • Waives driver’s license fees for 100% disabled veterans (SF2383) 
  • Waives CDL fees for veterans (SF2383) 
  • Expands CDL third-party testing (SF2337) 
  • Provides free public parking for medal of honor recipients, ex-prisoners of war, purple heart recipients, and disabled veterans (SF2383)

Promoting Access to Child Care

“Last year I convened the Governor’s Child Care Task Force to address the ongoing child care challenge in our state. Working parents need to be able to re-enter the workforce and know their children will be well cared for. Already we’ve allocated over $500 million to support child care in our state and created more than 9,000 new child care spots in just one year. But we’re far from finished.”

  • Opens additional child care slots by establishing new minimum child-to-staff ratios in child care centers of 1:7 for children aged 2 and 1:10 for children aged 3 (HF2198) 
  • Addresses workforce challenges by allowing child care center employees who are sixteen years of age or older to work without additional supervision (HF2198) 
  • Incentivizes child care providers to accept more Child Care Assistance (CCA) families by allowing parents to pay the difference between CCA rates and rates charged to private pay families (HF2127)
  • Allows a parent with a permanent disability to access CCA so the other parent can pursue employment. Previously, a parent with only a temporary disability could qualify for CCA. (HF2252) 

Delivering for Iowa Agriculture & Cutting Red Tape

“The biofuels bill I signed into law this year is a testament to the idea that good-faith discussion, negotiation, and compromise can pay off in a big way. This historic bill makes Iowa the first state in the nation to adopt an E15 standard, setting the stage for the single largest expansion of biofuels in our state’s history. Biofuels account for more than $4 billion of Iowa’s GDP and support tens of thousands of jobs in our state. I proposed the bill because Iowa’s farmers and biofuel producers are the economic backbone of our state. Because Iowans – and all Americans – deserve access to a reliable, less-expensive, and environmentally friendly option at the pump. Iowa has delivered – and in doing so, we’ve sent a message that can’t be ignored: America’s energy is growing right here in Iowa’s fields.”

  • Increases access to higher blends of biofuels through market-based principles and doubles funding for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (HF2128) 
  • Eliminates unnecessary and burdensome environmental and ag regulations (SF2176/HF2343/SF2232/SF2245) 
  • Preserves the Iowa Energy Center and refocuses efforts to research and develop strategies for carbon management (SF2325) 
  • Creates a “Choose Iowa” program to support & promote products grown on Iowa farms (HF2581) 
  • Improves CDL testing and creates a permit to allow oversize & overweight hauling in Iowa (SF2337/SF2376) 

Supporting Quality Educational Opportunities for Iowa Children

“This legislative session, for the 12th year in a row, we’ve increased funding for K-12 public education. While I’m disappointed that the House chose not to pass my proposal to give families educational freedom and school choice, I’m not backing down from this fight. That’s why we’ll continue to invest in public schools while empowering parents to choose what’s best for their child. Parental choice is not a zero-sum game, and my focus continues to be raising the quality of education in every Iowa school and for every Iowa child.”

  • Increases per pupil state funding for Fiscal Year 2023 (HF2316) 
  • Establishes a special task force to provide support for special education in private educational institutions. (SF2197) 
  • Expands open enrollment (HF2589) 
  • Expands operational sharing for school superintendents and school resource officers (HF2080) 
  • Increases funding for Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) to expand student programming to over 150 new schools (HF2575)  
  • Increases the Transportation Equity by 7.28% for a total of $29.5 million dollars (HF2316) 

Protecting Girls Sports 

  • Requires schools at all levels to designate sporting events as male, female, or co-ed. Only students who are female according to their birth certificate will be eligible to compete in girls sports. No student will be prevented from playing a sport that matches his or her biological sex, or a sport designated as co-ed (HF2416) 

Promoting Strong Families

  • Further solidifies the State of Iowa as a leader in implementing the federal Family First Prevention Services Act. Aligning Iowa’s child welfare system with Family First has successfully resulted in significantly fewer children entering foster care, more children placed in safe, family-based settings with relatives or fictive kin, and fewer children and youth placed in congregate care settings. (HF2507)  
  • Increases the upper age of an individual in foster care from 18 years to 21 years with additional supports if the individual is willing to participate in a case permanency plan and the Department of Human Services (DHS) has made an application for additional services and increases the upper age of an individual in foster care who can receive family foster care services or supervised apartment living from 18 to 21. (HF2252) 
  • Requires adoption petitions for children whose parents had their parental rights terminated to include the names of any known siblings placed separately from the child and the courts’ recommendation on whether continued contact is in the best interest of all siblings. (HF2252) 
  • Requires court orders regarding sibling placement to be attached to the adoption petition for a child whose parents have had their parental rights terminated. (HF2252) 
  • Requires preplacement reports to include whether the child to be adopted is based on their parents losing parental rights, whether the child has siblings and an ongoing relationship with them, or if a court order has found that contact between the siblings is in the best interest of each sibling. (HF2252) 
  • Requires that siblings of a person to be adopted receive notice of the adoption hearing at least 20 days prior to the hearing if the court finds contact between the siblings is in the best interest of each sibling. (HF2252) 
  • Removes the requirement that certain adult adoptees obtain a court order to access adoption records though DHS. Limits the simplified procedure to adults adopted following a termination of parental rights. (HF2252) 

Improving Access to Mental Health Care 

  • Establishes a Mental Health Professional loan repayment program (HF2549) 
  • Directs DHS to establish tiered in-patient payment rates in the Medicaid program for acute mental health services (HF2546) 
  • Funds additional positions in the University of Iowa Psychiatric Residency Program (HF2578) 

Supporting Israel

  • Modifies the definition of a company in Iowa’s anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions law to prohibit certain state funds from going to parent companies, wholly-owned subsidiaries, majority-owned subsidiaries, or affiliates of companies that boycott Israel (HF2373) 

Streamlining Public Safety Resources

  • Permanently authorizes counties, cities, and townships to establish an emergency response district that improves the ability of fire, police, and EMS services to share resources and coordinate action (SF2267). 
  • Authorizes local emergency management commissions to assume the responsibilities of a joint 911 service board (SF2298). 
  • Allows law enforcement agencies to use driver's license photos in missing persons investigations on websites and media for missing individuals and those suspected to be involved in a minor’s disappearance (HF2123). 

Enhancing Iowa’s Economic Development

  • Permits an additional 12-month extension and increase of project cost cap for the WF Housing Tax credit (SF2325) 
  • Further defines economically distressed counties in the state that are eligible for high quality jobs relief (SF2325) 
  • Guarantees the Business Property Tax Credit by altering it from an opt-in benefit to an exemption available to all businesses (HF2552) 
  • Expands the sales tax exemption of items and services used by a manufacturer to produce marketable food products to include food ingredients (SF2367)  
  • Establishes third-party food delivery requirements, including penalties and food delivery safety standards (SF2374)

Continuing modernization of state government

  • Permits taxpayers to have a combined sales and use tax permit and file a combined sales and use tax return (SF2367) 
  • Condenses four sales and use tax filing dates to just two (monthly and annual) (SF2367) 
  • Takes the first step to align the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Human Services into a single agency, the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. With extensive connections between Iowa’s public health and human services efforts, alignment integrates programs, practices and policies to improve delivery of services and more effectively helps all Iowans live safe, stable and healthy lives. (HF2587). 
  • Creates Sunday sales parity for all retail license/alcohol permit types, simplifies fee structures for alcohol licenses, makes charity event planning easier for non-profit organizations, and streamlines ABD’s business processes (SF2374) 
  • Moves the Office of the Chief Information Officer into the Department of Management – connected to the Office of the Governor – to strengthen the office and promote streamlined cybersecurity and technology oversight. (HF2589) 

News release from Siouxland Human Investment Partnership (SHIP):

The 0-3: Prime Age to Engage initiative will coordinate the delivery of a new children’s bookshelf and books to Catholic Charities (1601 Military Road) at 10:00 on Thursday, May 26th. D2: Worldwide will be present to stock the shelves with books donated through their Building Budding Brains book donation program. Additionally, new books purchased with a grant from the Siouxland Community Foundation will be stocked in the shelf as well.

The bookshelf was built and donated by Ernest Colt and apprentices of the Carpenter’s Union Local #948, with artwork by Dave Parker and with materials purchased with the Community Foundation grant.

The books will be displayed in the lobby of Catholic Charities and available for children and families who are waiting for their appointments. The hope is that the children and families can utilize books for entertainment while they wait instead of electronic devices, and can even build their own home libraries, as all books are free for families to take home with them.

This will be the 24th 0-3 bookshelf placed in the community since 2018. All previous shelves were also built and donated by the Carpenter’s Union with books donated by D2: Worldwide. Locations include two Unity Point Health clinics, three Express Laundry laundromats, Mary Treglia Community House, Community Action Agency of Siouxland, Hall Law Firm, Norm Wait Sr. YMCA, and many more. To see a full list of current bookshelf locations, visit the 0-3 website: https://primeagetoengage.com/bookshelf-locations

“Almost 40% of the clients we work with are children, so I am excited that we are going to be able to provide an educational and fun learning opportunity for kids when they enter our doors,” says Catholic Charities Executive Director, Amy Bloch. “We are grateful to Ernie, Dave and the apprentices at Carpenter’s Union for their work and generous hearts, as they are truly making a difference in the lives of children and our community.”

Catholic Charities was established in 1943 and serves people of all faiths and backgrounds. They provide mental health therapy to individuals, children and families in Siouxland and offer a sliding-fee scale, based on family size and income, for those that cannot afford to pay the full cost of therapy. No one is turned away for the inability to pay for services. Most insurance plans in the tristate area, Medicaid and Medicare are also accepted. Catholic Charities also provides free assessments for school-aged children and partner with Dr. Nesrin Abu Ata to provide psychiatric services to clients.

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0-3: Prime Age to Engage is a joint effort between 70 planning partners in the Siouxland area including the Sioux City Community School District, SHIP, the Siouxland Community Foundation, United Way of Siouxland and Source for Siouxland.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.
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