October 17, 2018
Early Voting Begins in Iowa
Early Voting Begins in Iowa
While Election Day is still a few weeks away, thousands of Iowans have already started casting ballots by mail or at early voting locations across the state.
Currently, local county auditor offices are open every week day for eligible voters to vote for the upcoming election on November 6. Voters can also cast an early vote at designated satellite voting locations. Eligible voters will need to check with their county auditor to see if there is a satellite voting location in their community.
A person voting early in person at the auditor’s office or a satellite location will be asked to show identification requirements, however identification is not required to vote. Instead, voters without proper ID will sign an oath and then cast their ballot.
Voters can show the following types of ID:
1. Valid Driver’s License
Voters can also request to have an absentee ballot mailed to their house and they can vote from the comfort of their kitchen table. The deadline to request a vote by mail ballot is October 27th at 5 pm. A voter can print off an absentee ballot request and fill it out and mail to their local county auditor (SEE BELOW for a link to this application).
Once the absentee ballot is requested, Iowans can track their ballots online. Ballots need to be post marked by Monday, November 5 to be counted, but county auditors recommend returning the ballot as soon as possible in the postage paid envelope provided.
Iowa has a voter registration deadline up until 10 days before the Election but can still register to vote on Election Day, either online or at their county auditor’s office or print off a form and send into to county auditor, or simply visit their county auditor.
Important Links for Voters:
• Print off an absentee ballot request: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf
2019 Health Insurance Enrollment Approaches
Beginning November 1 through December 15, Iowans may purchase or change their Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual health coverage to become effective January 1, 2019. During this open enrollment, Iowans may call 1-800-318-2596 or visit http://www.healthcare.gov for information regarding enrollment and calculating applicable tax credits.
Iowans can begin previewing sample premium amounts for individual ACA-complaint health insurance plans at https://data.iowa.gov/Health/Sample-2019-Iowa-Individual-Affordable-Care-Act-Co/smvn-ctjb/data?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery for each of Iowa’s seven rating areas. These premium amounts will become official once posted to healthcare.gov during open enrollment beginning November 1, 2018.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services data, Iowans received an average monthly advanced premium tax credit of $888 during 2017 under the ACA. The state’s estimated total annual premium tax credits received by marketplace enrollees were $444,241,000. This information can be found at www.kff.org/health-reform/state.
Local insurance agents, assisters, and certified application counselors are available to assist Iowans review insurance plans and determine which plan may best fit their needs.
Iowans can find local help by visiting http://localhelp.HealthCare.gov or contacting the Iowa Insurance Division at (515) 281-5705.
Iowa Receives Suicide Prevention Grant
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) was recently awarded a $3.5 million grant to prevent suicide in Iowa.
The money will be used to implement the “Zero Suicide” model across the state. The basis of the Zero Suicide model is that suicide deaths for individuals receiving treatment within health and behavioral health systems are preventable. Many times, suicidal individuals fall through the cracks, and there needs to be a system in place to close those gaps. For this to be done, suicide prevention must first be seen as a core responsibility of health care.
According to IDPH, suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in Iowa, but is the second leading cause of death for Iowans ages 15 through 34. In 2017, 433 Iowans lost their lives to suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please contact Your Life Iowa at (855) 581-8111, or use their online chat function found at http://yourlifeiowa.org.
Fall Trout Stocking
Every year, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) stocks trout in several urban lakes across the state. During the months of October and November, the DNR will release 1,000 to 2,000 rainbow trout at each selected lake to bring fishing to urban parts of the state. Many times, Iowans are not able to travel to northeast Iowa to fish for trout, so this program brings the trout to them.
In order to fish for trout, a valid fishing permit and a trout fee are needed and there is a daily catch limit of five trout per licensed angler. Children 15 and under do not need a fishing license but their daily catch limit is one trout. Kids can purchase a trout fee in order to catch a full daily limit of five.
Below are the dates, times, and lakes the DNR will be stocking:
Oct. 19, Sand Lake, Marshalltown, Noon
For more information visit: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Trout-Fishing.
Iowa Judicial Branch Releases Judicial Directory Before Election
The Iowa Judicial Branch released background information and professional qualifications of each judge up for judicial retention this year called the Voters Judicial Directory. The directory includes information on each judge’s education, career, and professional activities. The guide also includes factors that voters may want to consider when retaining a judge.
In 1962, Iowa voters approved a constitutional amendment that created a retention election for judges in the state. The system created a nonpartisan merit selection process where a nonpartisan commission reviews applicants for judicial office and recommends judges to be appointed by the governor. Those judges that are appointed through the merit then must be retained during regular general elections. The judges do not run against an opponent, but instead a judge must receive a majority of “yes” votes to be retained by the voters and serve another term.
The Iowa State Bar Association also released performance evaluations by Iowa lawyers on judges that are on the ballot. The evaluations rate judges on issues such as knowledge and application of the law, temperament, communication skills, timeliness of rulings, and impartiality. The lawyer evaluations also include whether the lawyers believe each judge should be retained. The Iowa State Bar Association 2018 Judicial Performance Review can be found at https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.iowabar.org/resource/resmgr/judicial_performance_review/2018/2018_Judicial_Performance_Re.pdf.
The 2018 Iowa Voters Judicial Directory prepared by the Iowa Judicial Branch can be found at https://www.iowacourts.gov/static/media/cms/2018_judges_guide_0BC05804C2A1B.pdf.
Iowa to Receive Federal Funds for School Safety
Iowa has received a $500,000 grant to help train teachers and school employees to respond to threats of violence and to prevent violence in schools. It will also provide training on how to respond to students who may be struggling with mental health or addiction, and educate students on preventing violence against themselves and others.
The grant will be overseen by the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Violence Prevention, the Department of Education, the Department of Public Health, and Department of Human Services. There will be 42 schools chosen to participate in the new initiative based on size and geographic nature of the district.
Report Underscores On-Line Schools Profit Before Student Achievement
Yet another national on-line school report shows that they lack progress in student achievement. The report comes on the heels of Iowa passing a massive expansion of on-line learning during the 2018 session.
The report by the Center for American Progress, entitled “Profit Before Kids,” looks at outcomes and business practices associated with virtual on-line schools. Iowa currently has two on-line businesses that operate as pilot projects within Iowa. They are Connections Academy that operates for the CAM school district, and K-12 Inc. which operates an on-line school for the Clayton Ridge School District. The report is very critical of private on-line learning for-profit business corporations, in particular K-12 Inc.
Key findings from the report include:
• For-profit virtual charter schools graduate about half of their students, which is about 30% lower than the national average.
Over $15 Million from Iowa Taxpayers Provided to Connections Academy and K-12 Inc
During the 2018 session, despite having knowledge of previous reports critical of on-line schools, Republican lawmakers passed Senate File 475 to greatly expand on-line learning to all school districts in Iowa. Iowa’s nonpartisan Fiscal Services Division estimates that over $15 million in state school aid and local property taxes has been provided to Iowa’s current private on-line out of state corporations over the past two fiscal years.