December 19, 2018

    State Revenue Continues to Limp Along
    First Day Hikes at Iowa State Parks
    Children’s Mental Health System Recommendations Released
    Webinar Assistance for Schools Developing Security Plans
    Counties Must Sign Up to Be Able to Evaluate Animal Confinements

    State Revenue Continues to Limp Along

    The 2019 Legislature could face significant budget challenges according to a committee responsible of projecting revenue growth.

    Adding another layer of uncertainty, the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) lowered revenue projections for the current fiscal year and the REC is projecting only 1.8% growth for the next fiscal year, FY 2020. The FY 2020 projections leave the state in a tough situation to address rising health care costs and proper funding of our public schools.

    The stagnant budget comes just one year after the Legislature approved tax cuts for the wealthiest Iowans, after a Republican lawmaker promised that the cuts were going to boost the economy. Revenue growth continues to not match the strong economy and the historic low unemployment of 2.4% in the state.

    The REC expressed specific concern about Iowans skilled workforce shortage and slow wage growth. Iowa is still behind the national average in income growth.

    The Governor will be setting her FY 2020 budget next session, with the December REC projections of revenue. The Legislature will use either the December or March REC revenue estimated number, whichever is lower.

    First Day Hikes at Iowa State Parks

    On New Year’s Day the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is participating in America’s State Parks First Day Hikes program. Twenty-seven of Iowa’s state parks will have free guided hikes for everyone to enjoy. The hikes allow people to get outside and enjoy the different landscapes Iowa has to offer.

    Below are the parks with hikes on January 1st. For more information visit https://www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Hiking-Biking/First-Day-Hikes.

    Gitchie Manitou State Preserve
    Dolliver MemorialState Park
    Stone State Park
    Ledges State Park
    Pilot Knob State Park
    Big Creek State Park
    Springbrook State Park
    Prairie Rose State Park

    Waubonsie State Park
    Lake Anita State park
    Green Valley State Park

    Lake Macbride State Park
    Maquoketa Caves State Park
    Bellevue State Park
    Mines of Spain State Rec Area
    Cedar Rock
    Pine Lake State Park
    Pikes Peak State Park
    Union Grove State Park
    Volga River State Recreation Area
    Yellow River State Forest

    Walnut Woods State Park
    Lake Wapello State Park
    Lacey-Keosauqua State Park
    Lake Darling State Park
    Elk Rock State Park
    Wildcat Den

    Children’s Mental Health System Recommendations Released

    Iowa does not currently have a mental health system specifically designed for children. In April 2018, Gov. Reynolds signed an Executive Order creating the Children’s System State Board that was tasked with developing this system and laying out groundwork for future legislation. The State Board met several times throughout the interim and released a report of their recommendations. The primary recommendation is to require universal, age appropriate, period behavioral health screenings to children 18 years and younger by July 1, 2020. These screenings would cover both mental health and substance abuse disorders.

    The group also suggested that those children who were identified in the screening receive proper services through behavioral health treatment options, crisis services, and community-based flexible supports. With the addition of these services, the Board recognized the need to address the workforce shortage that Iowa is currently facing. To address this shortage, it is recommended that tuition reimbursement, moving incentives, tax credits, and forgivable student loans for these professionals be utilized.

    Finally, the Board recommended the need for a stable funding source. This is especially important because the mental health regions may be asked to fund most of this system without receiving any sort of financial assistance from the state. The regions are already required to fund the vast majority of the adult mental health system, and in order to truly make meaningful and lasting changes to children’s mental health, the services need to be fully-funded.

    To view the full recommendations, please visit: https://dhs.iowa.gov/about/mhds-advisory-groups/childrens-system-state-board?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

    Webinar Assistance for Schools Developing Security Plans

    Monthly webinars to establish high-quality emergency operations plans in school districts and individual schools will continue to be offered by the Department of Education. Participation in the webinars is encouraged in order to complete high quality emergency operations plans by June 30.

    The next webinar is scheduled for Dec. 18 at 10 a.m. Join by clicking on the following link. Each webinar is designed to provide step-by-step assistance in developing the emergency operation plans. These webinars will be recorded and posted to the Department’s website along with future webinar dates.

    In 2018, legislation was passed to require public and accredited nonpublic schools develop emergency operation plans for district-wide use and individual school buildings and update them annually. It will include response to active shooter training, and provide procedures to parents or guardians and school personnel.

    School authorities will determine which school personnel, students or local law enforcement agencies participate in the drill that would include table top exercise, walk-through, partial or full drill. The plans must include responses to active shooter scenarios and natural disasters.

    For questions about these webinars and requirements, contact Rob Olsen at (515) 281-4743 or rob.olsen@iowa.gov.

    Counties Must Sign Up to Be Able to Evaluate Animal Confinements

    Counties in the state that want to review construction permits for proposed animal feeding operations have to sign up with the Department of Natural Resources between January 1st through the 31st. Animal operations that locate in counties that have opted into the so-called Master Matrix are required to meet higher standards before construction can begin. Resolutions can be approved at any time, but must be submitted to the DNR in January.

    Producers in Master Matrix counties must earn points on a master matrix by choosing different practices related to the construction and operation of the animal feeding operation. In addition, counties that have opted into the Master Matrix can accompany the DNR on site visits to proposed locations. A county can only require these additional steps if the county opts into the Master Matrix process.

    On average, about 88 counties pass a Master Matrix resolution each year. Counties that sign up this January will apply to permit applications from February 2019 through January 2020.

    Resolutions can be sent to Kelli Book at DNR, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319, or sent to Kelli.Book@dnr.iowa.gov, or faxed to 515-725-8201. For additional information on the master matrix, visit www.iowadnr.gov/afo and search for master matrix.