Capitol Update Week 10

House Committees Tackle Busy Meat Locker Problem
House File 787 creates a butchery innovation and revitalization fund and program within the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The bill previously passed the House Economic Growth Committee with unanimous support and this week has cleared a House Appropriations subcommittee. The bill is now eligible for a full Appropriations committee hearing.
The fund created in the bill would consist of any appropriations received and any other money available to IEDA for placement in the fund. The fund must be used to provide financial assistance in the form of grants, low-interest loans, and forgivable loans. IEDA will administer the program for the purpose of awarding assistance to eligible businesses for projects that expand or create new small-scale meat processing businesses, licensed custom lockers, or mobile slaughter units. A mobile slaughter unit must operate in compliance with the most current mobile slaughter unit compliance guide issued by the United States department of agriculture food safety and inspection service.
IEDA will also be responsible for establishing eligibility criteria for the program by rule. After reviewing and scoring all applications received during the application period, IEDA will make the awards. IEDA will give priority to eligible businesses whose proposed project will create new jobs; create or expand opportunities for local small-scale farmers to market processed meat under private labels; or provide greater flexibility or convenience for local small-scale farmers to have animals processed. Currently, some local lockers across Iowa are scheduled out as far as 2023. The purpose of this legislation is to allow more facilities to increase their production number.

Iowa’s Unemployment Rate Drops Again
Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 3.5 percent from the revised December rate of 3.7 percent. The state’s jobless rate was 2.8 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in January.
“Since last April, 2020, Iowa has grown its workforce by 45,400. In January, Iowa added 8,200 workers, which is a positive sign as we look to get more Iowans back into the workforce,” said Director Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development. “As the weather continues to improve
and our seasonal layoffs come to an end, we are hopeful our unemployment rate will continue to decline and our labor participation rate will improve.”
The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 57,400 in January from 59,900 in December. The current estimate is 132,800 lower than the COVID-19 revised peak in April of 190,200 and 8,100 higher than the year ago level of 49,300. The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,567,800 in January. This figure was 8,200 higher than December’s number of 1,559,600 and 45,400 higher than April 2020.
If you have interest in any particular bill or would like to know where it is in the process please contact me and I will do my best to try and keep you up to date. You can also follow bills on the legislative website once you know the bill number

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