116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / News / Government & Politics / State Government
Capitol Notebook: Iowa pilots volunteer emergency responder program
Also, Iowa AG Bird joins letter opposing invoking 14th Amendment over debt limit
Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau
May. 25, 2023 5:16 pm
Iowa will spend $150,000 to pilot a program aimed at decreasing emergency response times in rural areas.
Gov. Kim Reynolds this week announced Calhoun County Public Health, Cass County Board of Health and Van Buren County Hospital will each receive a $50,000 grant through the Empower Rural Iowa initiative. They will test a new program to equip trained volunteers who will have a phone app that allows them to receive 911 dispatch alerts when an emergency occurs nearby so they can stabilize victims until an ambulance arrives.
The program, Iowa United First Aid, was adapted from the Israeli nonprofit United Hatzalah, which translates to “United Rescue,” according to the governor’s office.
The Israeli model uses technology to crowdsource nearby volunteer emergency responders, and has decreased response times to an average of 90 seconds in cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and three minutes across the country, according to a governor’s office news release.
Iowa volunteers will have training, materials and equipment to perform first aid, bleeding control and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, according to the release. They also will be trained to use an automated external defibrillator.
The goal is for volunteers to quickly respond to emergencies in nearby areas and stabilize victims while an ambulance is on the way, decreasing the amount of time it takes to receive lifesaving assistance.
Reynolds said the program reflects the goal of the Empower Rural Iowa initiative, which seeks innovative ways to improve life in rural Iowa.
“Iowans deeply value service to their communities and their neighbors, and I believe this program and its volunteers will make a tremendous difference in improving access to emergency services in rural communities and saving lives,” Reynolds said in a statement.
Applicants had to provide at least a $25,000 local match for the grant, the release said.
Iowa AG joins letter opposing Biden invoking 14th Amendment over debt limit
Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird joined a group of Republican attorneys general in a letter to President Joe Biden opposing the invocation of the 14th Amendment to sidestep the debt ceiling as the nation creeps toward defaulting on its debts.
Some progressive lawmakers have urged Biden to use the 14th Amendment — which says that the validity of the public debt “shall not be questioned” — to bypass negotiations over raising the debt limit through Congress.
Biden has been hesitant to embrace the idea, but he said he was “considering the 14th Amendment” to avoid a default earlier this month. He noted the action would be litigated and the U.S. could default anyway, but he was considering revisiting the concept after the current negotiations are resolved.
The Republican attorneys general said in the letter Congress has the express authority over spending and issuing debt, and the 14th Amendment does not confer that power on the president.
In a statement, Bird said the idea that Biden can invoke the amendment to avoid the debt ceiling is a “partisan power grab.”
“Now, Biden is considering violating our Constitution in the face of a quickly approaching deadline,” she said. “He can't just ignore the law and wave a magic wand to make the debt disappear. We must hold Biden accountable and enforce the Constitution.”
Bird joins lawsuit over illegal, fraudulent robocalls
Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird also announced this week the state of Iowa is joining 48 other states in a lawsuit against Avid Telecom, its owners and chief officers for alleged illegal robocalls.
The lawsuit accuses the Arizona-based telecommunication business of facilitating billions of illegal robocalls to millions of Americans in the past several years. Since 2019, about 9,000 of the calls have targeted Iowa alone, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
The company helped make hundreds of millions of calls using spoofed or invalid caller ID numbers, the attorneys general allege. More than 8.4 million calls appeared in part to be coming from government and law enforcement agencies, according to Bird’s office.
According to the suit, Avid Telecom allegedly sent or transmitted scam calls about the Social Security Administration, Medicare, auto warranties, Amazon, DirecTV, credit card interest rate reduction and more.
Avid Telecom was sent at least 329 notifications from an telecom-led industry group about it transmitting known and suspected illegal robocalls, but ignored the notifications and continued facilitating the calls, according to Bird’s office.
“We’re taking action to shield Iowans from fraudulent and illegal robocalls,” Bird said in a statement. “This company has helped connect scammers directly with thousands of Iowans over the phone, but we’re pushing back. Thanks to this bipartisan coalition of attorneys general, we are putting the full force of 49 states behind our lawsuit to hold illegal robocalling businesses accountable and protect Americans from scams.”
Reynolds urges EPA to increase biodiesel volumes
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds led a letter joined by the governors of Nebraska and Missouri urging the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the amount of biodiesel and overall advanced biofuel volumes fuel that U.S. refiners must mix with gasoline and diesel over the next three years
“U.S. fuel prices remain stubbornly high and diesel fuel stocks remain at low levels,” the letter states. “This impacts the economics of planting, harvesting, and transporting food — as well as transporting all essential goods — which could increase inflation for all Americans. Limiting rural economic development and hindering opportunities for farmers in our states is the wrong approach. Adding to the supply of fuel, expanding agriculture markets, and supporting rural economies is the right thing to do right now."
Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau