STATE PARK CLEANUP: State Department of Natural Resources officials say several Iowa state parks are hosting spring cleanup events in April and May to get ready for summer.
Events include activities such as picking up litter and branches, painting, working on trails and clipping limbs and plants.
“We greatly appreciate the time and energy our volunteers provide to help take care of Iowa’s parks,” said Todd Coffelt, DNR state parks bureau chief. “Even if you haven’t visited one of these parks, we invite you to come out for an event and spend time outdoors lending a hand.”
Among the events are ones May 12 at Palisades-Kepler State Park in Linn County and April 21 and May 19 at Bellevue State Park in Jackson County.
ELECTRONIC LICENSE RENEWAL: Officials with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy say 2018 pharmacist state license renewals, applications and payments for renewals may be submitted to the board beginning in May through an online portal.
In addition to renewing licenses online, pharmacists also will be able notify the board of an address or employment change through an online profile. The board — composed of five pharmacists and two members of the public — anticipates having the electronic filing capability available by May 1.
Additional license and registration categories for online renewal will be implemented throughout 2018, according to officials with the state board that is responsible for regulating the practice of pharmacy and the legal distribution and dispensing of prescription drugs and precursors throughout Iowa.
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TOY RIDE: At a rare joint meeting of the House and Senate Government Oversight committees on Wednesday, House Study Bill 686 was approved to allow A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education, or ABATE, of Iowa to sell commemorative T-shirts and other memorabilia on the state Capitol complex grounds during its annual motorcycle rally toy run that benefits children.
ABATE sells the memorabilia to offset the costs associated with a police escort from the Capitol grounds to where the toys are delivered — day cares, domestic abuse shelters or other agencies that serve children. Sales are prohibited on the Capitol grounds without prior approval.
A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Thursday, April 5, 2018:
SIGN OF THE TIMES: In a scene that’s becoming more common, senators gathered in the Senate well again Thursday morning at the request of the presiding officer to cool the partisan rhetoric in an election-year session. The cause of Thursday’s flare-up was a floor speech by Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, in which he listed the alleged shortcomings of President Donald Trump to the point where Sen. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, called a point of order to challenge Bolkcom’s contentions. That prompted Senate President Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, to summon senators to the well to restore decorum and civility. Afterward, Bolkcom said the frequency of such partisan encounters indicates “it’s getting that time of the session where nerves are getting a little frayed. It’s a sign that it’s time to get a budget done, to get our work done and adjourn.” Another pressure point arrives April 17 when lawmakers’ daily expense money runs out.
GOP BUDGET/TAX CUT TALKS PROGRESSING: Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, said he expects majority Republicans will finalize details of their tax-cut plan and release fiscal 2019 budget spending targets next week in hopes of shutting down this year’s session later this month.
“We’re not that far apart,” Whitver told reporters. “The bottom line is we feel that we need to get a good solid tax plan that puts money back into the pockets of hardworking Iowans and as soon as we get that, the budget can fall into place.” Whitver said talks involving House and Senate Republicans and Gov. Kim Reynolds and “we feel good about where we’re at” in setting a financial plan for the state that will “make sure that the taxpayers have a seat at the table.”
Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he is concerned details of the GOP budget plan and tax-cut proposal will be unveiled and moved through the legislative process at a quick pace that will make it difficult for minority Democrats and Iowans to react to the proposed changes.
“This budget is going to tell us a lot about their priorities. What exactly is it that the state isn’t going to do anymore,” said Bolkcom to make room for tax cuts. “The Republican playbook generally has been just cut the revenue, do it in out years and then just deal with it when the revenue’s not there, which is not a very playful way to manage government,” he said.
ROLLING UP THEIR SLEEVES: Iowa topped all states in responding to a drive seeking donated long-sleeve shirts for farmworkers. Officials with Iowa Workforce Development say employees in IowaWORKS Centers and Proteus — an Iowa-based nonprofit organization that has been serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers, immigrants and others since 1979 — donated 3,617 long-sleeve shirts for migrant and seasonal farmworkers during National Farmworker Awareness Week last month. Proteus official
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Matt Winkel said 11,522 shirts were collected nationally — with Iowa donations representing nearly one-third of the total. Melissa Garcia, the State Monitor Advocate and Migrant & Seasonal Farmworker Program Coordinator for Iowa Workforce Development, said the donated shirts will help protect Iowa farmworkers from pesticide exposure and heat-related illnesses.\
QUOTE OF THE DAY: I think our caucus is generally very pleased with the two-year run we’ve had here over this legislative session. We’ve had one of the most historic and productive sessions that the state has ever seen and if we can cap it off with a tax bill, I’d put this session up against any session in the history of the state and possibly any session across the country as far as what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last two years.” — Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny