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In the news
House Republicans add Education Reform Committee: Iowa House Republicans are adding an Education Reform Committee in the upcoming legislative session. The measure comes as Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to continue a push to shift millions in taxpayer dollars to private school tuition assistance.
The committee will deal with “bills containing significant reforms to our education system,” Republican House Speaker Pat Grassley, who will chair the committee, said. Legislators also considered bills in this year’s session that would require schools to post course materials online and prohibit “obscene material” from school libraries.
Iowans weigh in on Trump presidential bid: Iowa politicians endorsed by former President Donald Trump kept him at arm’s length after he announced a third run for president this past week. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Ashley Hinson both said they encourage all candidates to come to Iowa to make their pitch to voters ahead of the 2024 Republican caucuses.
Trump is the first Republican to announce his candidacy for 2024, but several others, including former members of his Cabinet, have been testing the waters for presidential campaigns and were frequent visitors to Iowa ahead of the midterms. A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll from October found that 52 percent of Iowans said their feelings toward Trump are very or mostly unfavorable.
Senators split on marriage bill: Republican Iowa U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley were split in a vote Wednesday on a bill that would codify same-sex and interracial marriage at the federal level. Ernst voted for the proposal while Grassley voted against it, citing religious liberty concerns.
The bill passed the Senate with support from 12 Republicans, including Ernst. Senators included an amendment that ensures nonprofit religious organizations will not be required to provide services to or accommodate a same-sex marriage.
Scott County continues hand recount: A recount of absentee ballots in Scott County continued this past week, and officials found a 19-vote discrepancy between the number of absentee ballots turned in and the number counted. Previous counts indicated as many as 470 absentee ballots were not counted on election night.
The county is performing a hand recount of more than 23,000 absentee ballots after administrative issues were found.
They said ...
“I’m honored my colleagues have trusted me to lead the RGA as we work to ensure voters in Louisiana and Kentucky are given that same chance at a better future and Mississippi gives Governor Tate Reeves the second term he’s earned.” — Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds after being elected chair of the Republican Governors Association
“Iowans don’t care if a new committee in the Iowa Legislature is created to consider the governor’s voucher plan or other bad ideas like jailing teachers and banning books because it’s just all politics.” — Democratic House leader Jennifer Konfrst on the new Education Reform Committee
Odds and ends
Agencies manage infrastructure cash: Last week marked one year since the passing of the federal infrastructure law, which dedicated more than $1 trillion to projects across the country dealing with road maintenance, airports, waterways, broadband and more. The law resulted in a 30 percent increase in the Iowa Department of Transportation’s five-year project plan, allowing local governments to fund more improvement projects on Iowa’s roads and bridges. Iowa’s airports have received $51 million, and more than $113 million has been dedicated to Iowa’s drinking water safety.
Kim Reynolds leads Republican governors: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will lead the Republican Governors Association after being elected to the post this past week. Reynolds, who handily won re-election Nov. 8, previously was vice chair of the organization. Reynolds will lead the group’s fundraising efforts as it looks to elect GOP candidates in 2023 governor elections in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi.
COVID hospitalizations drop: Iowa COVID-19 cases ticked up slightly in the week ending Wednesday, with 1,980 new cases compared to 1,863 the previous week. The number of people hospitalized in the state with the virus dropped in the same period, from 180 to 137.
Google settles with states: Iowa will be paid more than $6 million in a multistate settlement over Google’s location tracking practices. The tech giant settled for $391.5 million with 40 states this past week, the largest tech security settlement with states in U.S. history.
House Dems re-elect leaders: Iowa House Democrats re-elected state Rep. Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights to the post of House minority leader and Rep. Lindsay James of Dubuque to serve as minority whip. The election comes as the minority party is slated to lose seats in the House after this month’s elections.