May 22, 2019

    Lawmakers Call for Special Session to Override Governor’s Veto of Medical Cannabis
    SAVE School Infrastructure Bill Signed into Law
    Iowa Measles Cases Show Need to Keep School Vaccinations
    Grants Awarded to Communities to Help with Derelict Buildings
    State Parks Day Camps
    Protect Yourself from Ticks

    Lawmakers Call for Special Session to Override Governor’s Veto of Medical Cannabis

    More Iowans with severe health problems and chronic pain could have had access to medicine that would improve their lives after a bi-partisan bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis law was approved.

    However, Governor Kim Reynolds unexpectedly vetoed the expansion at the last minute due to concerns over increasing the THC limit. The bill, passed during the 2019 legislative session, would have eliminated the current 3% THC cap by replacing it with a 25 gram over 90-day period maximum disbursement. The measure passed 96-3 in the GOP controlled House and 40-7 in the GOP controlled Senate.

    Democratic lawmakers are working this month to call for a special session to override the Governor’s veto. Two-thirds of lawmakers in each chamber are needed to request a special legislative session.

    Currently, Iowa is one of the lowest “THC” states in the country. Thirty-three other states have no limits on medical cannabis products, which have helped address opioid addiction and chronic ailment costs.

    In a poll released earlier this year, nearly 80 percent of Iowans support expanding access to the state’s Medical Cannabidiol program, according to the Des Moines Register.

    SAVE School Infrastructure Bill Signed into Law

    A top priority of school leaders across Iowa for several years, the “SAVE” bill to extend the one cent local sales tax for school infrastructure was signed by the Governor.

    The program will continue to provide funds for school infrastructure improvements, as well as increasing a portion of the funds for property tax relief. A separate Career Academy competitive grant fund is established to help build job training facilities.

    More transparency is provided in the plan by allowing voters to reapprove the district’s revenue purpose statement. If SAVE funds are going to be obligated for 20 year bonds, school boards must hold a public hearing and give citizens an opportunity to petition for a direct vote of the people.

    The program is now extended through 2051, instead of having it expire in 2031.

    Iowa Measles Cases Show Need to Keep School Vaccinations

    As of May 24, the latest figures from the Center for Disease Control show that 940 individual cases of measles have been confirmed this year in 26 states. Iowa is one of those states. This is an increase nationally of 60 cases from the previous week. It is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

    Measles is highly contagious and can spread through the air. The most common symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, but is known for its heavy rash all over the body. People can suffer complications such as pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and pregnant women may deliver prematurely.

    According to the CDC, the spread of measles can be attributable to the following:

    • The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.
    • Measles is still common in many parts of the world.
    • Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.
    • Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.

    Every state allows schoolchildren to be exempt from vaccinations for medical reasons, such as a compromised immune system or an allergy to a vaccine’s components. Iowa is one of the states that allow an exemption for religious reasons, but some states also allow it for personal reasons.

    Mississippi is one of three states that does not allow for religious or personal exemptions. They only accept medical exemption approved by the state medical director, and they are currently one of the states without a single case of the measles.

    House Stops Bill Relieving Health Screening Requirements

    After cruising through the Senate, a bill was halted in the House Education Committee last session that eliminated school requirements for vision, dental, and lead blood screenings. Originally, the bill also removed school vaccination and school nurse requirements, placing the burden on health care providers to notify parents of the need to vaccinate their child, including diseases such the measles, polio, or tetanus.

    Iowa schools serve as a critical partner in ensuring students are healthy and ready to learn, and many local school board members voiced their opposition to the bill during session. However, they were puzzled to learn that the bill was actually being pushed by their Iowa Association of School Boards, vastly without their consult.

    SF 438 is still in the House Education Committee and can still be considered for the 2020 session.

    Grants Awarded to Communities to Help with Derelict Buildings

    Help to deconstruct or renovate derelict buildings have been granted to 13 cities across the state by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The program helps communities with populations of less than 5,000 deconstruct or renovate abandoned structures. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis from annual applications.

    This year’s grants will provide $396,864 total to 13 communities including Afton, Aurelia, Eagle Grove, Elma, Farragut, Galt, Hampton, Hopkinton, Lytton, Mingo, Traer, Wapello, and West Branch. The projects include projects at commercial buildings, abandoned school buildings, post offices, coal fired power plants, and abandoned churches.

    Applications for the next round of funding will be due on February 20, 2020. Additional information on the grant program, including application forms, can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/LandStewardship/WasteManagement/DerelictBuildingProgram.aspx.

    State Parks Day Camps

    This summer the University of Iowa is hosting day camps in state parks across Iowa. Camps are open to kids in grades 3-7. The camps are led by teachers, naturalist staff, and college students. Kids will learn about the park, the park’s history, and animals. Fees for the week range from $100-$150 depending on the park. For more information about the camps and to register, click on the links below.

    Protect Yourself from Ticks

    In the past 12 months, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 277 cases of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that starts as a rash and if not treated can spread and 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 wear long-sleeved shirts and long, light-colored pants tucked into socks or boots; stay on trails when walking or hiking and 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. Finally, 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.

    More information about tick prevention and Lyme disease can be found here: http://idph.iowa.gov/cade/disease-information/lyme-disease.