February 10, 2017
Teachers, Law Enforcement & Nurses Targeted by Republicans
Teachers, Law Enforcement & Nurses Targeted by Republicans
Hundreds of teachers, law enforcement, nurses, and other working families packed the State Capitol this week in an effort to stop a Republican bill that would deny workers a voice in their own workplace. The bill is expected to move quickly next week with debate and a public hearing.
Originally passed to stop strikes, Iowa’s bi-partisan collective bargaining law gives workers a say in their own workplace and has served Iowans well for more than 40 years. It simply requires Iowans and their public employer (school, city, county, etc.) to sit down and work together to discuss issues and reach mutually agreeable solutions in the workplace.
The divisive issue is just the latest in a series of bills offered by Republicans, who believe teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement officials are overpaid and underworked.
Many lawmakers oppose the changes proposed by Republicans and believe law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, and other Iowa workers deserve fairness and a voice in their own workplace. Iowans can participate in the public hearing at the State Capitol on Monday night at 6 pm by signing up at: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/publicHearings?action=viewOnlineSignup&meetingID=24398.
House Follows Through on Record Low State Aid for Schools
Students in K-12 schools will likely find higher class sizes and fewer opportunities next year. That’s after Republican lawmakers approved their plan for another historic low increase in basic funding for public schools on Monday. The level of funding approved is the lowest amount in six years.
Before the bill was approved late on Monday night, more than 200 Iowa superintendents, teachers and parents packed the State Capitol to speak out against the Republican bill. Iowans told lawmakers there will be severe consequences of inadequate public school funding again next year.
A survey of Iowa superintendents found low state investment in education again this year would force them to raise class sizes, cut teachers, and reduce opportunities for students. They also said underfunding schools again next year would force them to delay purchases for books or classroom materials, delay new technology, and cut back on literacy programs.
When offered an opportunity to provide adequate funding that would avoid these consequences, the plan was rejected on a party line vote. Republican lawmakers also rejected the Governor’s school funding plan. Despite the Republican bill being half the amount of basic aid the Governor recommended, it was signed into law on Wednesday.
Early Childhood Report Shows Positive Effects for Families
The latest Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) report has been released and shows Iowa’s program, which is a model for the country, has positive effects for Iowa families.
For the last budget year, ECI supported over 9,900 families statewide just through family support programs. Of those programs administered through local boards, 61% of those families served were below the 100% Federal Poverty Level. The report indicates that of those families served through home visitation, 90% improved family functioning, problem solving and communication.
The report also showed that even though ECI supports varying levels of at-risk populations, the funding level to meet those needs has been stagnant for four years. This makes it difficult to serve a growing need. The report does not mention that the Governor’s proposed budget to these programs is cut by another $1 million for next year.
Maintaining Your Current Medication
Keeping your specific prescription drug to combat a chronic illness is important. Many times patients have to try multiple medications to find the one that works to treat their symptoms and balance the side effects. Once a person finds a medication that works, they are forced to start the process over if they change jobs or obtain a new insurance provider despite having success with a specific medication.
The House Human Resources Committee unanimously passed legislation to standardize this process and included exceptions for when a person can bypass the requirement to start again when they change jobs or obtain new insurance after completing the therapy step protocol. A person may be approved for an exception if:
Protecting Victims from Stalkers
In an effort to continue protecting victims of stalkers, a bill is working its way through the House that will make it illegal for a person to put a global positioning tracking device on another person’s car without their consent.
Under the bill, it will also be illegal to obtain information on the movement of a vehicle. If guilty, it is a serious misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine between $315 and $1,875 and up to a year in prison.
Exemptions are made for situations such as law enforcement officers acting within the scope of their duties, manufacturers that install an in-vehicle communications system, and a device installed with the consent of the owner’s knowledge for insurance purposes. House File 204 is ready for debate by the full House.
Chronic Wasting Disease: A Threat to Iowa’s Deer Population
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease that is circulating through much of the country’s deer population. CWD is spread by the sharing of body fluids, both direct and indirect contact, and is fatal to all deer that contract it. The first case of CWD found in Iowa’s wild deer herd was in 2014 inside Allamakee County. Since that time, a total of 17 wild deer have tested positive for the disease. All have been found in Allamakee County, except the last one which was discovered in Clayton County, northwest of Elkader. The disease has also been found in the wild herds in neighboring Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.
When a deer contracts CWD, a protein called prion eats holes in the deer’s brain. This leads to disorientation, lethargy, drooping of the head and ears, and emaciation. There has not been any evidence that shows eating the meat of an infected deer will cause harm to humans. However, it is recommended by the Center for Disease Control that the brains, eyeballs and spinal cord of an animal with CWD not be eaten.
To help curb the spread of the disease, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has tested over 4,000 captive deer and 61,000 wild deer since 2002. Hunters voluntarily provided deer heads to the DNR for testing, and samples were taken from all 99 counties. To continue its efforts to prevent the disease from spreading, the DNR has scheduled a public meeting on February 13, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in Elkader. The meeting will be held at Johnson’s Reception Hall (916 High St. N.E.). For more information, visit the Iowa DNR website at: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/Deer-Hunting/Deer-Disease-Information.
Livestock Master Matrix Adopted by Counties Across the State
Eighty-eight of Iowa’s 99 counties adopted the Master Matrix process for evaluating construction permits for animal confinements. The Master Matrix requires proposed new confinements to meet higher standards for construction permits.
The Master Matrix applies to certain newly proposed large confinement complexes or for the expansion of a totally roofed facility. Generally speaking, complying with the Master Matrix is only required for facilities with more than 2,500 finishing hogs, 1,000 beef cattle or 715 mature dairy cows.
Counties that adopt the Master Matrix have additional input on site selection, structures and facility management. Counties that adhere to the Master Matrix may also join the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on visits to proposed sites.
The Master Matrix process was created by the Legislature in 2002. Counties must adopt a resolution to use the Master Matrix every year by January 31st. The Master Matrix scoring system must be adhered to by any potential producer in any county that opts into the process, but counties do not have a final say on permitting or locating a facility outside of the Master Matrix process. Generally speaking, a proposed facility that achieves a passing score on the Master Matrix must be issued a permit under Iowa Code Chapter 459.
Additionally information on the Master Matrix can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/afo.