June 5, 2017
Fireworks Legalized in Iowa
Fireworks Legalized in Iowa
Just in time for the July 4th holiday, fireworks are now legal in Iowa. Fireworks can be sold from June 1st to July 8th and from December 10th to January 3rd annually. Fireworks can be used between 9 am and 10 pm but extended periods are allowed around the July 4th holiday and New Year’s.
While no local government can limit the sale of fireworks, the bill does allow a city council or board of supervisors to limit or prohibit the use of fireworks. Local officials can prohibit the use of fireworks entirely in their jurisdiction or may place specific limits, such as limiting when fireworks can be used. Fireworks are prohibited in state parks and preserves unless authorized by a permit from the state. Fireworks also cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18.
Retailers and community groups that want to sell fireworks must be licensed by the state fire marshal. In addition, any retailer must sell fireworks in accordance with the national fire protection standards on the manufacture, transportation, storage, and retail sales of fireworks. Retailers must also have at least $1 million of per occurrence insurance and $2 million of aggregate coverage.
First Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts Created
Iowans saving for their first home have a new opportunity. The Legislature created Iowa First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts that give tax advantages for saving towards a first home. Homebuyers can save up to $2,000 individually or $4,000 for a married couple that can then be subtracted from the taxpayers net individual income for tax purposes. These amounts are increased annually based on inflation.
Accounts can be opened with any financial institution. Funds must be used within 10 years for a qualifying home purchase. An account may be opened in the name of the first-time homebuyer, similar to a college savings account. Accounts must be open at least 90 days before being used for a qualified home purchase.
A qualifying first-time homebuyer is any resident of Iowa that does not own a single-family or multifamily residence and has not owned such a residence for three years prior. Account holders must submit an annual report to the Department of Revenue with the account holder’s Iowan income tax return. The forms will be produced by the Department of Revenue.
Honor Flight for Central Iowa Veterans in September
On Tuesday, September 12, two planes will be leaving the Des Moines Airport for Washington D.C. taking 250 veterans to see the WWII, Vietnam, and Korean War memorials. These veterans will be assisted by 85 guardians, and the mission of the flight is to show appreciation for our veterans and give them the chance to see the memorials and share their experiences with others.
The agency in charge of these flights, the Honor Flight Network, is a non-profit organization that flies veterans across the country to see these memorials in Washington, D.C. The first flight took place in May 2005, and over 20,500 veterans have flown in 2016. Top priority in seating will go to the senior veterans, as well as those veterans who are terminally ill. There are currently over 27,000 veterans on a waiting list to take part in these flights.
To sign up for the Des Moines flight, please visit http://www.centraliowahonorflight.org and fill out the application.
Community Colleges are Preparing Tomorrow’s Workforce
It is estimated that by 2025, about 68% of all jobs in Iowa will require some postsecondary training or education beyond high school.
The latest report from Iowa’s community colleges released this month, shows that community colleges are producing graduates for high quality jobs and that the vast majority of Iowa community college graduates remain in Iowa after graduation (81%). Of those graduates, 43% continued their education in Iowa, and 38% started working in Iowa. Of those working, a total median adjusted wage for all the professions was $29,675. Many professions, however, can make more than that.
Those with the highest median wages in the year after graduation were manufacturing ($37,602), wholesale trade ($37,439), and health care and social assistance ($34,581). However, the report states that wages vary widely depending on the type of program the graduates completed.
The report can be found at: https://www.educateiowa.gov/documents/program-outcome/2017/05/cc-education-outcomes-report-ay-2011-15.
Computer Science Workgroup Meets
An effort to help Iowa K-12 schools expand computer science courses, a working group held their first meeting last week. The computer science workgroup will identify and recommend measures to incentivize schools to have at least one high-school computer science course and exploratory courses in middle and elementary schools.
The Education Commission of States addressed the group on what other states are doing in this area. That report identified that not many states have developed elementary and middle school computer science, but those states that have done this well, have collaborated along the way with stakeholders and emphasized professional development of teachers.
Given the rapid pace of innovation and technological change, every student should be exposed to computer science. The report advocated that if the United States is to remain at the forefront of technological innovation and retain its status as a global economic leader, the size of our computer science workforce must increase.
In making recommendations for changes in course schedules, one of the more controversial items the group is required to address is how one or more high-quality computer science courses can satisfy high school graduation requirements for mathematics or science.
The workgroup will make recommendations for lawmakers in the 2018 legislative session.
Protect Yourself from Ticks
In 2016, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 232 cases of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that starts as a rash and, if not treated, can have lasting impacts to an infected person’s health.
To prevent tick-borne disease like Lyme disease, it is best to avoid wooded and grassy areas. However, if you spend time in these areas it is best to wear long-sleeved shirts and long, light-colored pants tucked into socks or boots; stay on trails when walking or hiking; avoid high grass; and use insect repellants. The repellants that contain DEET should be used in concentrations no higher than 15% for children and 30% for adults.
Lastly, after spending time where ticks live, check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks. Ticks tend to prefer the back of the knee, armpit, scalp, groin, and back of the neck.
This year, the Iowa Legislature approved exempting licensed health care professionals from discipline by their respective licensing boards if the licensee recommends or provides treatment of Lyme disease or other tick-borne disease. This will help Iowans who need treatment for Lyme disease from having to travel out-of-state to receive treatments.
More information about tick prevention and Lyme disease can be found here: http://idph.iowa.gov/cade/disease-information/lyme-disease.