A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Monday, Jan. 22:
CYBER TRAINING: Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday announced a new cyber training partnership between the state and SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network and Security) Institute to inspire the next generation of female cybersecurity professionals.
State officials say GirlsGoCyberStart is a free online game of discovery that offers girls in grades 9-12 the opportunity to learn basic cybersecurity skills and test their cyber aptitude. Participants do not need any prior cybersecurity knowledge or IT experience. The only requirements are a computer and an internet connection.
Iowa’s students will compete against students from 16 other states and territories: American Samoa, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. Registration will begin Jan. 29 and run through Feb. 16. The first 10,000 girls to register may play the game Feb. 20-25.
ICN AUDIT AFTERMATH: Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters Monday she is satisfied that proper action has been taken in the aftermath of a state audit that identified $379,500 in improper disbursements and undeposited collections resulting from management decisions by the former executive director of the Iowa Communications Network.
Richard Lumbard of Marion led the ICN, the state government’s distance learning and broadband carrier network, from 2014 until he was fired Jan. 4. During her weekly news conference Monday, Reynolds said the auditor’s office was contacted immediately after concerns were raised by ICN staff in July.
The governor said the audit “exposed significant flaws” with the network’s accountability structure, which have been rectified.
“We understand where the lack of accountability was in the structure, and they’ve identified it, so I think they’ve taken proper action,” Reynolds said. “The individual is no longer there, and they’re moving forward.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, expects the matter to be referred to the Government Oversight Committee.
BUDGET TALKS: Statehouse Republicans continued discussions Monday aimed at erasing a projected shortfall of about $35 million in the fiscal 2018 budget year that ends June 30.
Gov. Kim Reynolds and top Republicans from the House and Senate met privately Monday in what they described as a routine weekly discussion rather than specific budget talks. Legislative Republicans have indicated they would like to create a larger ending balance than the $3.6 million in the governor’s proposed fiscal 2018 revisions, which could require deeper cuts than the $29 million she proposed. She also sought to use $11.4 million in new revenue created by the federal tax cut, but that has drawn some GOP legislative resistance as well.
“We’ll continue to work with them. I’ll listen to what their suggestions and recommendations might be. That’s how you move it forward,” the governor told reporters. “That’s the process that we’re in right now, and we’ll continue to have those discussions. I’m not going to draw any lines in the sand. I’m not going to say this is what I expect. That’s not healthy. Rather, I think the conversation and the communication back and forth is how you get to resolution, and that’s the process that we’re in right now.”
FEDERAL SHUTDOWN EFFECT: The federal shutdown that began at midnight Friday had an immediate effect in Iowa. Officials say more than 900 full-time employees of the Iowa National Guard were furloughed. About 1,000 full-time employees were to remain on duty, including active Guard and Reserve military personnel. Also, drill was canceled for about 400 Iowa National Guard personnel scheduled for training last weekend, but an additional 700 personnel were allowed to complete weekend training due to interpretation of federal law. Rescheduling of all canceled training assemblies will be announced at a later date, Guard officials said.
MENTORING MONTH: Gov. Kim Reynolds was slated Tuesday to make an official proclamation declaring January as Mentoring Month in Iowa — marking the 16th annual National Mentoring Month as part of a campaign aimed to begin dialogues on the importance of quality mentoring programs and the effect they have on youth in Iowa. Officials say research has shown that with a mentor, at-risk youth are 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using drugs, 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college, and 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities. Iowa has more than 9,000 mentors who serve youth in programs certified by the Iowa Mentoring Partnership. However, advocates say thousands more Iowa youth could benefit from having a mentor.
SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK: Gov. Kim Reynolds has issued an official proclamation recognizing this week as Iowa School Choice Week — an event with the goal of raising awareness about the options that parents have for their children’s education. The week will feature 270 events and activities across Iowa, including open house events at schools, school fairs, home-school information sessions and other celebrations, organizers said.
MEETING POSTPONED: Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials say a public meeting to discuss construction plans in the Gull Point State Park Complex originally scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed until Thursday. The meeting will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Iowa Lakeside Lab Mahan Hall in Wahpeton. The public is invited to the meeting to discuss construction projects at Gull Point State Park, Marble Beach Recreation Area Campground, Hattie Elston and Pikes Point State Park.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!
You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s like an auction. Don’t twitch or I’ll call on you.” — Ryan Wise, director of the state Department of Education, during a presentation Monday to the House Education Committee at the Grimes Building in Des Moines