JENEARY – SCHOOL REFORM
The school reform legislation proposed by Governor Kim Reynolds is moving swiftly through the Legislature. Both the House and the Senate will have floor debate on the bill this week. State Representative Tom Jeneary of Le Mars says he’s heard from many of his constituents about the bill.
Rep. Jeneary’s biggest reservation about the bill is that it’s moving too quickly through the legislature. He would favor more deliberation on it. There are a couple of amendments that will be brought forward this week.
Rep Jeneary is also concerned about the large amounts of money that is being spent on the legislation. While this bill spends more on non-public schools, public schools will see more support, too.
The Le Mars Community School Board held a meeting Friday. It was actually a tour of the district’s three elementary school buildings – Clark, Franklin, and Kluckhohn.
Superintendant Dr. Steven Webner said the purpose of the tour is to become familiar with the way the schools are now used, with an eye toward future facilities needs.
Board President Angela Catton says a couple of the buildings are old, and it’s getting tougher to adapt them to modern education methods.
Catton also says Clark and Franklin Elementary schools were not designed for the technology that is required in today’s classrooms. She says it’s important for the community to know the building conditions and any improvements which need to be made.
Superintendant Dr Steven Webner says the board is coming up on the end of a ten year facility plan, and they must decide whether to take the next step.
Clark (320 students) and Franklin (275 students) elementary schools were built in 1939. Kluckhohn (420 students) Elementary school was built in the early 1970s.
Governor Kim Reynolds is open to repealing the requirement that state and local officials ensure there’s an equal balance of men and women appointed to boards and commissions. A bill to repeal that gender balance requirement is eligible for debate in the Senate State Government Committee. Reynolds says she’s not committing to sign the bill into law, but the concept is something she supports. Reynolds says the standard should be to appoint the best qualified people who have a passion for the work. Iowa has had a gender balance requirement for state boards and commissions since 1987. The legislature in 2009 passed the same gender balance rule for city and county boards that are established by state law. Reynolds, who was a state senator in 2009, spoke out against the bill when it was debated.
INDOOR TURF FACILITY
Dordt University and Sioux Center hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the community’s new eight million dollar inflated sports complex Friday. Iowa Economic Development Authority Director, Debi Durham was on hand — and says one of the country’s hottest new travel trends includes sports, and it includes family
Durham says the sports tourism industry has been recognized as one of the fastest growing segments within the travel industry by the World Tourism Organization, and she says the state of Iowa has taken notice.
The American State Bank Sports Complex received a 500-thousand dollar Community Attraction and Tourism grant as part of the funding. The complex includes a regulation practice football field, two ball diamonds, a regulation soccer field, and several smaller recreation soccer fields for year-round use.
A so-called Talent Poll that was done by a coalition of the state’s 15 largest chambers of commerce aims to find out what people who live in Iowa love about the state, and equally as crucial, what might make them want to move away. Dustin Miller, executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, says most of the things survey respondents said were the positives that keep them here were of little surprise — small town feel, affordability, the people, and safety. On the negative side, the poll found 45-percent of respondents said Iowa’s entertainment opportunities are inferior to other states. While outdoor recreation continues to be a major selling point, respondents aged 18-to-29 said the lack of recreation was a major consideration for leaving Iowa.
EL NINO IMPACT
Wide sections of Iowa were hit with a whopper winter storm this week that dumped up to 12 inches of snow, thanks in part to the La Nina weather pattern that’s impacting the climate across the continent. Meteorologist Dennis Todey (TODD-ee), director of the U-S-D-A’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says we’ve been in La Nina for three straight years now, but Pacific Ocean surface temperatures may soon warm, signaling a possible shift to El Nino. Todey says we could be in El Nino territory by fall and maybe even at the end of the growing season. There are concerns an El Nino could add more heat to an already warming climate, which would be foul news for Iowa, most of which remains in very dry or drought conditions.
The unemployment rate in December was unchanged. Iowa Workforce Development director, Beth Townsend, says there were some positive signs as the year wrapped up as the state added 24-hundred jobs in December. That makes ten out of 12 months of job growth in 2022. She says there are 45-thousand-600 Iowans working now that weren’t in 2021. The labor force participation rate dropped slightly as Townsend says about 17-hundred people dropped out of the workforce — and they could possibly be people who decided to retire at the end of the year.
ERNST – DEFENSE BUDGET
Republican Senator Joni Ernst says now is not the time to cut the Pentagon’s budget.
House Republicans say they will insist on cuts in federal spending in any deal to raise the government’s ability to borrow more money to pay its bills. Ernst says cuts to military spending would not be helpful.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says every single level of government should be looking at ways to spend less money. He says in an 800 BILLION dollar defense budget, there are areas that can be cut, like the money the Air Force is spending to research the use of biofuels in jets.