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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
In the news
Lawmakers pass ban on vaccine passports: Legislation banning “vaccine passports” in Iowa is on its way to Gov. Kim Reynolds for her expected signature. The Iowa Senate voted to approve a bill that prohibits businesses, schools, and state and local government facilities from denying access to people who haven’t had the COVID-19 vaccination. And all government entities in Iowa would be barred from issuing ID cards with a person’s vaccination history. The legislation makes exceptions for health care facilities, such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes, and would not affect requirements that employers may place on their employees.
Session dragging: A Republican stalemate over tax policy has the potential to drag out the 2021 session. Gov. Kim Reynolds pitched a compromise package she hoped would break a stalemate, but House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, said there’s no agreement yet.
Transgender athletes: Gov. Kim Reynolds defended as “a fairness issue” her call for a state law to prohibit transgender students from competing in sports with the gender with which they identify. Advocates for transgender students called such legislation hurtful, cruel and wrong.
Housing vouchers: Landlords will be allowed to deny leases to renters who rely on federal housing choice aid like Section 8 vouchers under a measure signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
They said …
“It’s just mind-boggling to me that Republicans can be this way. This was a legitimate election; (Donald Trump) tried to delegitimize the election.”
— Dave Millage, a former Scott County Republican Party chairman
“To say that this proposed legislation might be a bad idea is a monumental understatement.”
— Rob Roane, a driver’s education teacher at Iowa Western Community College, on a bill to allow parents to teach their teenagers how to drive
Odds and ends
COVID strain: A coronavirus variant that was first identified in hard-hit India has been uncovered in Iowa, state public health officials said. Officials still are learning about the characteristics of this variant, but it is not designated as a variant of concern.
Spring planting: Favorable weather allowed Iowa farmers to plant almost half of this year’s corn crop last week, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said.
Legal assistance: The Iowa Supreme Court approved $195,695 in grants to 11 nonprofit programs that provide legal assistance to low-income Iowans with civil legal problems.
The water cooler
Conservation funding: Farmers and landowners can sign up for state cost-share funds to help adopt soil health and water quality practices, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said.
Fish data: The Department of Natural Resources said Iowa anglers can now access fish survey data collected by staff at the DNR’s fisheries during electroshocking and netting surveys on lakes, rivers and streams.
Economic indicators: Iowa’s index of leading economic indicators jumped a record 1.3 percent in March, marking the eighth month of positive growth since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
More in the news
Interests divided over ethanol mandate: Farm interests, fuel retailers and others whipsawed a state Senate panel over a legislative proposal seeking to push more use of renewable fuels that proponents hailed as an economic boon for Iowa-based industries and critics panned as a government intrusion that would cost drivers more at the pump. Gov. Kim Reynolds introduced the bill to promote more ethanol and biodiesel sales in Iowa. House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, conceded to reporters the bill “is a difficult push” as the 2021 legislative session pushes toward adjournment.
Vaccine hesitancy: Gov. Kim Reynolds said 46 percent of eligible Iowans are fully vaccinated from COVID-19, but demand for the vaccine in Iowa continues to wane. Eighty-eight counties declined all or some of their new allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses for this week.
Second dose: Nearly a quarter of people who initiated the COVID-19 vaccine series in Iowa have missed their second dose, according to state public health officials, potentially throwing a wrench in the race toward herd immunity.
Sexual assault: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York who briefly ran for president in 2019, heaped praise on Iowa’s Republican U.S. senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, for their support of Gillibrand’s legislation aimed at reducing sexual assault in the military.