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Six women will make up the Iowa House Democratic leadership team in 2023, the first time in Iowa history an all-female team has led a legislative caucus.
On Tuesday, House Democrats elected Reps. Sue Cahill of Marshalltown, Heather Matson of Ankeny, Amy Nielsen of North Liberty, and Sharon Steckman of Cerro Gordo County to be assistant leaders, according to a news release from a spokesperson. They join House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights and Minority Whip Lindsay James of Dubuque, who were elected last month.
“I’m proud and honored to lead with these extraordinary women in the Iowa House. They are each amazing leaders in their own communities who understand Iowans are fed up with politics as usual and are ready to do things differently in Des Moines,” Konfrst said in the release.
Iowa House and Senate Republicans elected assistant leaders on Monday. Last month, the caucuses elected Jack Whitver of Grimes and Pat Grassley of New Hartford to be Senate majority leader and House speaker, respectively.
Also in November, Senate Democrats elected Zach Wahls of Coralville as Senate minority leader and Sarah Trone Garriott of West Des Moines as Democratic whip, as well as four assistant leaders.
$1 million education grants awarded
Three community colleges and one K-12 school district in Iowa received $1 million grants through the Career Academy Incentive Fund, which is designed to prepare high school students for success in college, postsecondary training and the workforce, the state announced.
Iowa Central Community College, Northwest Iowa Community College, Southwestern Community College, and the North Scott Community School District each received a $1 million grant, which will be put toward increasing access to career academy programs in high-demand fields, Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office said in a news release. It is the fifth round of awards.
Students will benefit from industry partnerships and earn high school and college credit, and gain technical and traditional academic skills, the governor’s office said.
“Expanding career academies develops our workforce talent pipeline and provides high school students with opportunities to gain valuable experience, connect with local employers and earn industry credentials and college credit,” Reynolds said in the news release. “I commend (the grant recipients) for their dedication and leadership in growing career academies that prepare students for high-skill, high-demand careers available here in Iowa.”
The grants are funded by the Career Academy Incentive Fund, which was established in 2019 by state law and draws from the state’s 1- cent sales tax for school infrastructure.
Miller calls for legislative action on opioids
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller called on state legislators to direct millions in opioid settlement funds to increase access to treatment for opioid use disorder.
There is currently more than $19 million in Iowa’s opioid settlement fund after two large payouts in November, Miller said in a news release.
As terms of the settlements, the money in Iowa’s Opioid Settlement Fund is required to go to opioid prevention, treatment or recovery. The Iowa Legislature will be able to disburse the money in the upcoming session through the appropriations process.
“Resources are flowing in from hard-won settlements my office has reached with companies who caused or contributed to the opioid crisis,” Miller said in the news release. “Legislators have a crucial opportunity to use this money to prevent addiction, increase access to treatment for opioid use disorder, and save lives.”
In November, the state received more than $12 million from a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and $4.6 million from a settlement with three major pharmaceutical distributors. In total, Iowa will receive $90 million from the two lawsuits over 18 years, the release said. Miller also noted agreements have been made or were being reached in four other multistate lawsuits related to opioids.
Treasurer promotes College Savings Iowa Year-End Giveaway
Iowans can register to win a $5,290 college savings contribution through the College Savings Iowa Year-End Giveaway, Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald announced Tuesday.
The contribution would go toward a child’s account with College Savings Iowa, the state’s direct-sold 529 tax-advantage program that allows parents to save for their child’s higher education. The funds in a College Savings Iowa account can go toward tuition, room and board, and education supplies.
Any Iowan over 18 can register for a child in his or her life, Fitzgerald said. Registration is open until the end of the year at Iowa529contest.com.
“Saving for the child in your life is one of the most important things you can do,” Fitzgerald said in a release. “Having a dedicated education savings account lets your children know you believe in their dreams. It’s a gift you can’t unwrap, but it might just be the most valuable gift of all.”