Government

Concussion protocol signed by Gov. Reynolds, DNR director stepping down, more funds for economic development: Iowa Capitol Digest, April 26

Chuck Gipp, director, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Chuck Gipp, director, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

CONCUSSION PRO-TOCOL: After four years of work, legislation to protect student-athletes from concussions has been signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

House File 2442, a requirement that a student immediately be removed from an interscholastic activity if the coach, an official or a licensed health care provider observes any symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion or brain injury, was one of three bills the governor signed Thursday.

It was approved 96-2 in the House and 47-0 in the Senate.

A student would be unable to return to a sport or activity until receiving written clearance from a licensed health care professional.

Reynolds also signed HF 648 relating to career and technical education programs and partnerships and SF 2389 authorizing the Department of Natural Resources to establish certain fees at state parks and recreation areas.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: On a 57-39 party-line vote, the House on Thursday approved a $40 million general-fund appropriation for economic development. That represents a $2 million increase after the midyear deappropriation.

It also appropriates $29 million from other funds, an increase of nearly $11 million.

Amendments to require legislative approval before Workforce Development offices could be closed and limiting state agency spending on marketing campaigns were rejected.

Democrats in the Iowa House sought to reverse a $17 million decision by the executive branch to relocate the Iowa Finance Authority’s offices. That attempt was rejected.

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GIPP TO RETIRE: Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp has announced that Tuesday will be his last day on the job.

A former legislator, Gipp has spent six years as DNR director under Govs. Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds.

Gipp said his 28 years of service have been “an absolute pleasure.”

He was elected to the Iowa House in 1990, where he served nine consecutive terms in several capacities, including House majority leader.

After deciding not to seek re-election, Gipp was hired by then-Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey as director of the Division of Soil Conservation. He served in that role for three years.

He moved to the DNR in August 2011 and not long afterward became director.

Gipp and his wife, Ranae, live in Decorah, where he previously operated a dairy farm. They have two adult children.

Deputy Director Bruce Trautman will serve as acting DNR director.

HIGHER GAS PRICES: It was another up week for retail gasoline prices in Iowa.

The state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship reported prices averaged 6 cents a gallon higher at $2.65, according to AAA.

Nationally, prices rose by 5 cents to $2.78 per gallon.

One year ago, gas prices in Iowa were 31 cents lower that the current statewide average.

Meanwhile, retail diesel fuel prices in Iowa rose 2 cents from last week’s price with a statewide average of $2.99 a gallon, which was 50 cents higher than a year ago.

Nationally, the average price for diesel is $3.04 per gallon.

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For heating fuels, propane prices were 5 cents lower than last month’s prices for a statewide average of $1.32 per gallon. Home heating oil rose 11 cents from last month’s figures, ending with a statewide average of $2.57 a gallon, while natural gas prices fell 6 cents and ended the week at $2.77/mmBtu.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Every year is different from the last. Every year there are new pieces and usually there are new people in the mix. You’re figuring out each other and what you want and what your caucus wants and fitting all that together. It’s a different experience every year.” — House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, on efforts to end the 2018 legislative session.

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