Reynolds Signs 100 Percent Educational Bill Into Law
(Des Moines) — Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law today a requirement that Iowa’s K-through-12 schools hold all classes in-person by February 15th. Reynolds says it’s an important step in the state’s recovery from the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Reynolds called on legislators to pass a bill requiring full-time in-person instruction in Iowa schools. Republican lawmakers approved the bill Thursday and the governor signed it today (Friday).
Schools may continue to offer online classes to students, but it is not required. Holding classes in-person on each school day is. Democrats who voted against the bill say forcing face-to-face instruction for all students will be difficult for large schools without space for social distancing. They also suggested resumption of full in-person classes should wait until teachers and staff are vaccinated. Reynolds says the state has face shields, hand sanitizer and other pandemic essentials on hand, ready to ship to school administrators who ask for supplies.
Reynolds made brief remarks in the statehouse rotunda late this (Friday) morning, then signed the bill into law in front of a small crowd of supporters.
Iowa Cattlemen Would Like To See Inheritance Tax Abolished
(Des Moines) — A bill advancing in the Iowa Senate would eliminate the state’s inheritance tax, a move that’s being backed by the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. Cora Fox, the association’s government relations director, says the inheritance tax has long been a burden for many Iowans, particularly farmers and ranchers.
“Something that’s very top-of-mind is being able to pass along your livestock operation to the next generation,” Fox says. “Here in Iowa, the family farm really is the backbone of agriculture. Anything that we can do to help support reducing a burden on the next generation is incredibly valuable to our members.” Fox says her group is encouraged by the bill’s progress in the Senate.
“We do have very strong support from leaders in the legislature and we’re always grateful for them stepping up and representing the interests of Iowa’s producers,” Fox says. “This is something that the Iowa Cattlemen have weighed in on in the past, especially at the federal level when you start talking about estate taxes.” In addition to impacting farmers and ranchers, Fox says Iowans not involved with agriculture are also adversely affected by the tax.
Fox says, “This, I believe, references property. For us in the cattle industry, we also often grow our feed and you have to have a significant land base and obviously, this would impact your crop growers here in the state, too, so it’s definitely an important issue.” The bill unanimously passed a subcommittee and will advance to the full Senate Ways and Means Committee. Chairman Dan Dawson, a Republican from Council Bluffs, says he expects elimination of the inheritance tax to be incorporated into a larger tax policy bill that will be taken up later this session.
Reynolds Requests More Funding for Iowa DOT Winter Operations
(Des Moines, IA) — The governor is asking legislators to boost the Iowa D-O-T’s budget for road salt by one-point-three-million dollars for next winter. Transportation finance director Lee Wilkinson told lawmakers, “the last three years our salt usage has increased and that’s primarily due to the severity of the winters.” In each of the past three winters, the D-O-T used
about 214-thousand tons of rock salt, on average. The cost of rock salt increased 11 percent over that time frame. Reynolds is also legislators to ensure that agency can more quickly replace blades on snowplows. The governor is suggesting lawmakers set aside at least 629-thousand dollars to buy new blades for D-O-T plows this summer.
Iowa Gets Four ‘F’ Grades in Tobacco Control Report Cards
(Des Moines, IA ) — A new report card on tobacco control from the American Lung Association ranks Iowa in five main categories, giving the state an “F” in four of them. Iowa advocacy director Kristina Hamilton says one of the key items is how much the state spends on tobacco prevention programs. Iowa is investing four-million dollars a year on efforts like Quit Line Iowa.
Hamilton says the funding is crucial to chip away at the adult and youth smoking rate and e-cigarette usage rate – and the C-D-C recommends 30-million dollars in annual spending. Iowa imposes a tax of a dollar-36 on every pack of cigarettes sold. The Lung Association is urging Iowa lawmakers to boost that tax by another a dollar-50 per pack. Iowa also got “F” grades for
efforts to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, as well as for coverage and access to services to quit tobacco. The state’s only non-failing grade was an “A” for its smoke-free workplace law.
Plane Skids Off Runway at Davenport Municipal Airport
(Davenport, IA) — A scary moment at the Davenport Municipal Airport Thursday when a plane skidded off the runway. City officials say the plane being used in a training exercise was damaged when a wing clipped a snowbank while landing. The two people onboard weren’t injured. There was some fuel
leaking on the runway. The Federal Aviation Administration was notified of the accident.