Capitol Update Week 12

Governor Recommends Schools Stay Closed

 

On Thursday, April 2nd, Governor Reynolds recommended that Iowa schools remain closed until at least April 30.

Prior to suspending session, the Legislature waived missed school days up to April 13. Because the situation was continuing to evolve, the Legislature also gave the Governor the authority to waive additional missed school days. She can do this on a statewide or district-by-district basis.

Parents can find several tools and resources to help their kids continue learning on the Iowa Department of Education’s website. https://educateiowa.gov/pk-12/resources-support-learning-during-covid-19

Legislative Session Will Remain Suspended

Following the Governor’s recommendation that schools remain closed, leaders in the House and Senate announced that the suspension of the legislative session will also be extended until at least April 30. The Legislative Council which I was appointed to, will meet soon to formally extend the suspension.

No “Shelter-In-Place” Order Needed at This Time

While some are calling for a shelter-in-place, Governor Reynolds says she is looking at the data and following the advice of public health experts who say that such a measure is not necessary at this time. Governor Reynolds has stated that her decision could change depending on what new data shows.

Governor Reynolds has already taken significant action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 such as closing non-essential businesses, suspending non-essential surgeries, and encouraging Iowans to stay at home and practice social distancing.

While many states have issued formal “shelter-in-place” orders, they often don’t do much more than what’s already being done in Iowa. In fact, some of the actions that Governor Reynolds has taken are often times stronger than what other states have done, even though they have a formal order in place.  I have been looking at the differences between Shelter in Place orders in the states around us and what Governor Reynolds has put in place here in the state.

What I am finding is that there isn’t a whole lot of difference.  Minnesota has a Shelter in Place but over 70% of their business are considered essential services.   That percentage is close to where we are here in Iowa also.  I do believe people should be doing a better job at following the rules Iowa has put in place, such as keeping a 6 foot distance, and gathering in groups less than 10.  Staying away from public places such as parks or playgrounds maybe should be considered also.

I would hope Iowans would grasp the severity of the situation we are in and do the right thing by keeping their distances, washing their hands often, covering their mouths when coughing or as suggested to wear a mask when out in public, isolate when you are sick and stay at home as much as possible.  I do have faith in Governor Reynolds that she is looking at the data and getting good advice from the Iowa Public Health.

Some of the additional reasons against a shelter-in-place order in Iowa include:

  • Iowa’s population density is much smaller than most states (The New York City metro area’s population density is nearly 100x larger than Iowa’s)
  • Iowa does not utilize mass public transit which often spreads disease
  • Iowa does not have large apartment buildings where thousands of people live
  • A shelter-in-place order would strain local law enforcement resources

Iowa SOS Makes Voting in the June Primary Easier

On June 6, Iowa will hold its primary election for federal, state, and local candidates.

To keep Iowa voters safe and healthy amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Secretary of State Paul Pate announced this week that he will mail all registered voters an absentee ballot request form. Because we are uncertain what things will look like in June, this will allow Iowans to receive a ballot and vote by mail in the comfort of their home.

Ballot requests will be mailed out in mid- to late-April. More information can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.  https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/absenteeinfo.html

Lastly,

This week I received calls on regulations that due to shutdown of governmental offices are making things harder to achieve as we move towards the planting season.  I worked with Innovative Ag Services and Secretary Naig to get commercial applicator licenses to some of their new hires.  Temporary CDL’s seems to be an issue also, after talking with the Iowa DOT, they directed me to their website where you can apply for one online.
https://www.news.iowadot.gov/newsandinfo/2020/04/iowa-dot-to-issue-restricted-commercial-drivers-licenses-remotely.html

If you would like more detail on any of these issues or something else that you would like verification on don’t hesitate to contact me.  I will be monitoring my email daily, if you have any questions or concerns please email or call my cell phone.  My email is lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov or call at 319-480-1997.

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