LORENZEN HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Le Mars Community High School alumnus David Lorenzen has recently retired from a long career in law enforcement, and with the Iowa Department of Transportation. He has also worked many years in combatting human trafficking
Lorenzen, who was honored by the Le Mars Community Schools Foundation as their alumni of the year, says it’s hard to get a handle on human trafficking in Iowa.
He says Kids on social media have to be careful, or they could get become victims, too.
The Iowa legislature has unanimously voted to dramatically increase prison sentences for human trafficking in Iowa. A 2006 Iowa law established a Class D felony, with up to five years in prison, for human trafficking convictions. Bill backers say that’s an anemic sentence for a serious crime and many who are charged with human trafficking are able to negotiate a plea deal that reduces the sentence to a misdemeanor. Those convicted of trafficking anyone under the age of 18 could be sentenced to life in an Iowa prison once the bill becomes law. The House passed the bill March 9th. The Senate approved it Tuesday and sent it to the governor.
THEN FEED JUST ONE
Then Feed Just One, the food packing program of Gehlen and Spalding Catholic Schools, renews next week. Their goal is to pack 190-thousand meals for distribution in Honduras. Meal packing shifts will be next Wednesday, May 3rd, from 5-15 to 6-30 pm, and three shifts Thursday, May 4th, at 8-15 and 10-45 am, and at 1 pm. Participants are to check in 20 minutes prior to your shift at the Gehlen Catholic School Gym.
LEWIS AND CLARK IMPACT
The Lewis and Clark Regional Water System is already having an impact on water use in Sioux Center. The city was recently connected to the system, and receives 800-thousand gallons of water a day form the Missouri River pipeline system. Since water supply has risen, the city has lifted water restrictions that had been in place since last July because of drought. Also, since Lewis and Clark went online, the water is softer in Sioux Center. Previously, water hardness was 43 grains. Now, it’s 23. This also reduces the amount of cholorides which is released into the city’s sanitary sewer system. The city’s water department is telling customers to adjust their water conditioners accordingly.
GOVERNOR’S OFFICE BUDGET
The budget for the governor’s office is getting a half a million dollar boost under a bill Senate Republicans have approved. A spokesman for Governor Reynolds says it pulls Iowa closer to the office budgets for governors in states like Utah that have similar populations. Democrats in the Senate objected, suggesting the governor might use the money to provide sizable bonuses to her staff. A spokesman for Governor Reynolds said the 500-thousand dollars will help recruit and retain the talent necessary to support the significant work Iowans expect the Governor to lead.
Republicans in the legislature have settled on a more than two BILLION dollar Health and Human Services budget that boosts state funding for nursing homes, mental health care and treatment for substance abuse. Senate Republicans have approved the bill and Senator Mark Costello, a Republican from Imogene, says the plan has the backing of the agency and House Republicans. Democrats in the Senate voted against it, arguing the state should provide a pay boost to those who provide in-home care for disabled Iowans AND spend more on the state’s child care assistance program. Senator Pam Jochum (YOH-kum), a Democrat from Dubuque, says the budget fails the working poor. Other Democrats called for extending post-pregnancy care for women enrolled in Medicaid, to try to reduce the state’s high maternal death rate.
A pilot program that will study the effect of providing a monthly basic income on reducing poverty will make its first payments next month to a group of central Iowa residents. The project called UpLift will give 110 people in Polk, Dallas and Warren counties 500 dollars each month for the next two years. There are no restrictions on how the money can be used. Des Moines University is leading the study, and their public health chair, Rachelle Reimer (ruh-SHEL REYE-mer) says they will be conducting surveys every six months with participants and will also follow a control group of residents who don’t receive the money to try and determine the impact of this unrestricted basic income . The UpLift participants were randomly selected from six-thousand applicants for the program. Payments begin going out on May 15th.