A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Thursday, March 15, 2018:
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, was officially sworn in Thursday as the new presiding officer of the Iowa Senate.
Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady delivered the oath of office at the start of the day’s business, as Schneider’s wife and parents looked on.
Schneider is taking over for Sen. Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, who became the Senate’s majority floor leader after former Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, resigned abruptly on Monday.
In brief remarks, Schneider said it was “an absolute honor” to become Senate president, a position that places him second in the line of succession to be governor — after the speaker of the Iowa House — should the office become vacant before the 2018 election.
GAS PRICES DROP: Iowa saw a slight decline in the price of regular unleaded gasoline in recent days.
The latest price quoted by AAA showed a statewide average of $2.48 per gallon, down a penny from last week, but 17 cents higher than one year ago.
The national average on Tuesday was $2.52, also down a penny from last week’s price.
Retail diesel fuel prices in Iowa fell 2 cents to a statewide average of $2.92 per gallon. One year ago diesel prices averaged $2.46 in Iowa.
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Turning to heating fuels, the retail price of propane in Iowa dropped 4 cents, closing the week at $1.42 per gallon, while home heating oil prices fell 3 cents from last week’s figures, ending with a statewide average of $2.37 a gallon.
Natural gas prices rose 3 cents and ended the week at $2.76/mmBtu.
FARM ART: Iowa students of all ages are invited to submit artwork to the “From the Farm to You” calendar distributed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture at the Iowa State Fair.
Pictures should be drawn using only black lines on plain white paper, 8 1/2-by-11 inches. The pictures should not be colored. They can be submitted by May 1 to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Calendar Kids, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319.
Students whose artwork is selected will be recognized during the fair.
The current calendar can be seen here.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I know that many of us live in a bubble. We all need to get out of it and start thinking about how bills like this will impact Iowans.” — Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, speaking against the so-called fetal heartbeat bill.