June 19, 2019

    Worker Training, Education Incentives for Iowa Businesses
    Summer Food Programs Available for Iowa Families
    1st Time Home Buyer Assistance Available
    Federal and State Disaster Relief Available for Iowans
    Iowa’s Unique Redistricting Process
    School Districts and Transit Authorities Receive Bus Improvement Assistance
    June is PTSD Awareness Month
    Iowa Transportation Commission Approves Project Plan
    State Board Approves Davenport Action Plan
    Rainy May Makes Last 12 Months Wettest Ever in State

    Worker Training, Education Incentives for Iowa Businesses

    In April, the Legislature appropriated $1.2 million for a new program called the Iowa Employer Innovation Fund. The program is a grant opportunity for Iowa businesses to expand opportunities for education and training leading to high-demand jobs, the encouragement of leadership, and support for regional workforce talent pools throughout Iowa.

    Employers who receive a grant can use the money to help students pay for books, equipment, childcare, and other expenses related to for-credit and non-credit postsecondary credentials, including short-term certificates.

    The grant application process is open from June 21st through August 1st. Businesses are encouraged to apply. For more information about the program and to apply visit, https://www.futurereadyiowa.gov/innovation.

    Summer Food Programs Available for Iowa Families

    Thousands of meals to Iowa children in low-income areas at no charge to their families are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. These meals are intended to replace school meal programs that are unavailable during the summer. The federally funded program is administered by the Iowa Department of Education and local sponsors.

    The program will operate about 500 meal sites across Iowa from June through August. Each site is administered by a local sponsor, including schools, churches, local cities, and other private non-profit community organizations. The sites are open to all children ages 18 and under at no charge. No identification or sign-in is required. Many sites offer learning and recreational activities for children.

    To find a summer meal site near you, visit www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks or call 211 or 1-866-3-HUNGRY, or text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877. Services are available in English and Spanish.

    For more information about Iowa’s Summer Food Service Program, visit: https://www.educateiowa.gov/pk-12/nutrition-programs-0

    1st Time Home Buyer Assistance Available

    A new down payment assistance program for first time home buyers is now available from the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA). Qualified buyers are eligible to receive up to $5,000 or 5% of the sale price, whichever is lower. The down payment is an interest-free loan that can be used towards purchasing a home up to $331,000. Recipients must use a loan program through IFA in conjunction with the down payment assistance program. The loan is repaid when the buyer sells or refinances the home.

    Qualifying factors:

    • Must be a first-time home buyer.
    • The home must be occupied by the borrower as a primary residence within 60 days of closing.
    • Must demonstrate an ability to repay the loan and have an acceptable credit history.
    • All loans subject to a minimum 640 credit score and a maximum debt to income ratio of 45%.
    • Borrowers are limited to one-time use of the FirstHome Plus and Homes for Iowans Plus programs.

    For more information and to start the application process visit IFA’s website, http://iowafinanceauthority.gov/Public/Pages/PC78LN25.

    Federal and State Disaster Relief Available for Iowans

    Last week, the Governor issued an additional disaster proclamation for Mills, Muscatine, and Washington counties, in response to the state’s continuous severe weather. This proclamation allows state resources to be utilized for response recovery and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant program and Disaster Case Management for qualifying residents.

    Iowa’s Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants up to $5,000 for household incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level or a maximum annual income of $41,560 for household of three. These grants are available for home or car repairs, clothing or food, and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery.

    The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) website and potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim. The link to the application can be found here: https://dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

    The Disaster Case Management is a program designed to provide assistance for a disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse conditions. Disaster case managers work with individuals to create a disaster recovery plan and provide guidance, advice, and referral to obtain a service or resource. There are no income eligibility requirements for this program and closes 180 days from the Governor’s proclamation date. The Disaster Case Management Program is administered through local community action associations at www.iowacommunityaction.org.

    Disaster Proclamation Extension

    The Governor also extended existing proclamations relating to March flooding disaster emergencies for an additional 30 days, now due July 10, 2019. This extension allows Iowans to continue utilizing state resources for response recovery from severe weather effects beginning last March. The complete list of Iowa counties eligible for state assistance recovery can be found online:https://www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov.

    Federal Individual Assistance is currently available for nine counties: Fremont, Harrison, Louisa, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie, Scott, Shelby, and Woodbury. This assistance provides aid to eligible homeowners, renters, and businesses. Anyone sustaining loss in the designated counties from March 13 to May 16 may apply for assistance by registering online (http://www.disasterassistance.gov) or by calling 1-800-621-3362.

    FEMA Assistance Available

    FEMA Public Assistance is available for long-term federal recovery programs to help public entities and select nonprofit organizations. The 58 counties eligible for assistance include: Adair, Adams, Allamakee, Audubon, Boone, Bremer, Buena Vista, Butler, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, Dallas, Decatur, Dickinson, Emmet, Fayette, Franklin, Fremont, Greene, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Howard, Humboldt, Ida, Iowa, Jasper, Kossuth, Lyon, Madison, Mahaska, Marshall, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, O’Brien, Osceola, Page, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Polk, Pottawattamie, Sac, Shelby, Sioux, Tama, Union, Webster, Winnebago, Winneshiek, Woodbury, and Wright.

    Iowa’s Unique Redistricting Process

    In just a matter of a few years it will be time to draw new maps for the Iowa Legislature and Congressional Districts. After the federal census in 2020, district maps across the country are redrawn to reflect the change in population.

    The Iowa redistricting system is the most fair and non-partisan in the country, similar to how our judicial nominating system worked before Republican lawmakers changed it on the final day of session.

    Iowa has a completely unique way of determining what legislative and congressional districts will look like after the census is complete. Unlike other states, Iowa does not use any political or election data while drawing their maps and the maps are drawn by nonpartisan legislative staff. Once the maps are drawn and presented, the legislature votes on the new districts.

    There are different processes on the creation of legislative maps throughout the country, but in most states the state legislature is completely responsible for the drawing legislative and congressional districts. Other states have commissions that are made up of appointed members from in and outside of the legislature.

    Iowans should make sure they hold their elected officials accountable and let them know they do not want political influence in redistricting, like have been infused into our judicial nominating process.

    School Districts and Transit Authorities Receive Bus Improvement Assistance

    The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded funding to school districts for 54 bus improvement projects from the Volkswagen Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust program.

    In 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a complaint alleging Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act through the sale of motor vehicles between 2009 and 2016 equipped with “defeat devices.” The devices were designed to perform differently during normal vehicle operation than during emissions tests. Volkswagen agreed to settle some of the allegations with the creation of an Environmental Mitigation Trust to fund strategies that will reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides.

    Through the agreement, Iowa will receive approximately $21 million in Trust funds for mitigation projects which will be distributed through competitive application programs over the next several years. The current approved 54 bus improvement projects will total $4,628,072 million.

    For the full list of the DOT awards to transit authorities and school districts to assist in energy efficient bus purchases, go to: https://iowadot.gov/vwsettlement/docs/VW%20Cycle%201%20Award%20Summary.pdf.

    June is PTSD Awareness Month

    June has been designated PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) Awareness month by The National Center for PTSD. During this month, people are encouraged to learn about the disorder, connect with others who may be experiencing symptoms, and share information with family and friends.

    PTSD can occur after someone has experienced a traumatic event. Examples of these events include combat exposure, car accidents, and natural disasters. Not everyone who experiences events like these will have PTSD, but others can start to develop symptoms over time. Symptoms of PTSD can include avoiding certain situations that remind you of the traumatic event, negative changes in beliefs, and feelings, reliving the event and feeling keyed up.

    If you or someone you know may be experiencing PTSD, reach out to your family doctor or contact your local VA or Vet Center for treatment options.

    For more information regarding PTSD Awareness Month, please visit: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/awareness/index.asp.

    Iowa Transportation Commission Approves Project Plan

    The Iowa Transportation Commission approved the state’s five-year Transportation Improvement Project. Approximately $3.5 billion is expected to be available for highway right of way and construction. Of those funds, approximately 55 percent of the $3.5 billion program will be invested in rural Iowa.

    The plan includes more than $1 billion for Iowa bridges, as well more than $2 billion in funding approved for the modernization of Iowa’s existing highway system and for enhanced highway safety features.

    For additional information regarding the five-year road funding plan visit; https://iowadot.gov/program_management/Five-Year-Program.

    State Board Approves Davenport Action Plan

    As reported previously, the Davenport School District, Iowa’s third largest district has been placed on conditional accreditation status by the Iowa State Board of Education. Now, after a Phase II Site visit by the Department of Education, the situation may have turned for the better.

    This week the Iowa State Board of Education unanimously approved an action plan which will require the district to accomplish specific tasks and deadlines to accomplish them. Part of the action plan is to have the Interim Superintendent stay in place through the 2019-20 school year. The plan will also involve Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) to create a positive learning environment, and community and parent engagement implementation before next school year.

    The department indicated that the district was very responsive to their suggestions in developing the action plan. The district indicated that it is very helpful to have an action plan that narrowed down specific tasks and deadlines as to when to accomplish them.

    Rainy May Makes Last 12 Months Wettest Ever in State

    The state has seen the wettest 12 month stretch on record since last June. This May was the sixth wettest on record according to the most recent Water Summary Update. All of the National Weather Service Coop stations across the state reported above average rainfall in May, with the largest differences in southern and southeastern Iowa. The southeastern portion of the state reported 200% of expected rainfall for the month.

    Streamflows across most of the state continue to be much above normal. Average streamflow across the state peaked in March at a very high level and has slowly declined toward normal flows in April and May. Additional rains pushed the index back to high levels in June. Drought conditions across the state have been absent since late last year and continue with the increased rainfall.

    The Water Summary Report is prepared by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, IOIHR – Hydroscience and Engineering, and the U.S. Geological Survey in consultation with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department. Additional information and the full report can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.