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Week in Iowa, Nov. 27, 2022: Recap of news from across the state
Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau
Dec. 4, 2022 6:00 am
Congress votes to avert rail strike: Iowa’s U.S. representatives and senators joined the majority of Congress in voting for legislation designed to avert a rail strike. The legislation aims to force a tentative deal between rail labor and companies that workers had previously voted against.
Iowa’s U.S. representatives — three Republicans and one Democrat — voted for the legislation Wednesday. Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst approved the legislation Thursday in the Senate, which overwhelmingly passed it 80-15. Rep. Cindy Axne, a Democrat, was the sole member of the delegation to vote yes on a separate vote that would have added seven days of paid sick leave a year. That measure cleared the House but failed in the Senate.
Recounts in two House races: Two close Iowa House races underwent recounts this past week. In the race for Linn County’s 73rd House District, Democrat Elizabeth Wilson received 305 more votes than Republican Susie Weinacht, who requested a recount in all 16 precincts. Because the race’s margin was more than 1 percent of total votes cast, Weinacht paid a $150 bond to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.
In Scott County’s House District 81, Republican Luana Stoltenberg requested a recount after being behind by only six votes to Democrat Craig Cooper in the official count. Scott County conducted multiple administrative recounts of the vote after technical issues affected voting on election night.
Finkenauer tapped for State Department post: Former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who represented Iowa’s northeast 1st Congressional District from 2019 to 2021, will take up a position as the special envoy for global youth issues with the U.S. Department of State.
Finkenauer was among the youngest women elected to Congress in 2018, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a release her experience gives her insight into the “key role youth voices and perspectives play in policymaking and good governance.”
In the role, Finkenauer will work on youth-related programming related to the department’s foreign policy initiatives and work with young people to formulate relevant policies and programs.
Linn County weighs pipeline ordinance: Linn County’s Board of Supervisors is considering an ordinance, similar to other counties in Iowa, that would require setbacks of pipelines carrying “hazardous materials,” including carbon dioxide.
The move comes as Wolf Carbon Solutions proposes building a controversial CO2 pipeline through the county. Another pipeline company, Summit Carbon Solutions, filed lawsuits against Story and Shelby counties recently for adopting similar ordinances. The company argued the counties preempted state and federal law.
They said …
“The awards made to Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the state will fuel a historic and transformational investment into sustainable homeownership opportunities for Iowans." — Lisa Houser, executive director at Habitat for Humanity of Iowa, on grants for homeownership
“We know that ag producers in Iowa and across the country depend a great deal on rail to move inputs, to move grain out of our state. And it involves other agricultural products as well." — Iowa U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, on the prospect of a rail strike
Odds and ends
State board certifies 2022 vote: The Iowa State Board of Canvassers officially certified the result of Iowa’s 2022 election for most counties Thursday. Turnout was the second highest for a midterm in the state’s history, with 1,230,416 votes cast. Three counties still need to complete and certify recounts, so a special canvass for the three races will be held after recounts are completed.
Senators push year-round E15: Iowa U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst joined a bipartisan group of senators seeking to eliminate the summertime restriction on E15 sales. The senators introduced a bill that would allow for the sales of the fuel, which has 15 percent ethanol, year-round nationwide. Currently, E15 is not sold in the summer because of environmental concerns.
COVID cases rise: Iowa reported 2,700 new COVID-19 cases in the week ending Wednesday, a 17 percent increase from the previous week’s 2,302. Hospitalizations were at 233, an increase from 172 the previous week.
State gives grants for homeownership: Iowa will devote $20 million to expanding opportunities for homeownership using federal pandemic assistance funds. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the funds Thursday, which will give grants to 15 organizations to assist with 91 homes across the state. The grants will assist with the development of homes for income-eligible families and down payment assistance.