by Charlotte Eby - Managing Director of Government Affairs, LS2group
View the Iowa Legislative Bill Tracker
Senator leads effort to help Chinese cities with Coronavirus response
Iowa Sen. Zach Nunn, R-Bondurant, is spearheading an effort to bring needed medical and food supplies to areas in Iowa’s Chinese sister cities hard hit with the coronavirus. Nunn is chairman of the Legislature’s International Relations Committee, which has been briefed on the situation in Iowa’s sister states.
“Friendship is more than a trade partnership; Iowa has a strong tradition of helping our sister-cities and fellow citizens of the world in need,” Nunn said in a statement. “Our friends are asking to help save lives and we are asking Iowans to assist in any way they are able.”
Needed supplies in those areas include medical gowns, masks, gloves, sanitizer, tissues, and monetary donations to cover shipping costs.
The Carpenters Local 106 donated safety glasses to the effort and members were honored on the Senate floor. Local leaders in Cedar Rapids, Muscatine, Davenport, Des Moines and Dubuque are also pitching in to assist.
Those wanting to donate to the effort can visit www.iowasisterstates.org.
State school aid advances
Legislators this week gave their approval for a 2.3 percent increase in state funding for K-12 schools next year. The increase represents roughly $85 million in additional dollars.
Republicans portrayed in the increase as sustainable for the state budget, while Democrats complained the funding boost was not enough to keep up with the needs of the state’s public schools. Lawmakers are required to set the level of state school aid near the beginning of the legislative session to give local school officials time to certify their budgets for the upcoming school year.
With passage in both chambers, the bill now lands on Gov. Reynolds’ desk for consideration.
Mobile barber shops would be legal
A bill that would allow barbers to offer mobile services passed the Senate Monday 49-0 and 92-0 in the House. The bill was inspired by William Burt, a barber from Waterloo who wanted to legally offer his service from a bus. Gov. Kim Reynolds recognized him in her Condition of the State speech earlier this year. Burt is an ex-felon who learned barbering during his time in prison.
Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan, saw a news report on Burt’s plight and pushed for legislation to help make his dream a reality. The bill changes the definition of “barbershop” in Iowa law to include readily movable locations. Burt has said he would like to provide services to veterans who are homebound and other community members.
“Thank you for having a great idea that we can help you accomplish,” Zumbach said during debate, calling Burt a “great Iowan.”
The bill now moves to Gov. Kim Reynolds for action.
Animal abuse bill advances
Iowa lawmakers voted this week to strengthen the state’s animal abuse and neglect laws, a longtime goal of animal welfare advocates.
The Iowa Pet Alliance helped advance HF737, which was the subject of lengthy negotiations among stakeholders and legislators. The Senate removed a provision that would make animal torture a felony, settling instead for an aggravated misdemeanor.
Similar animal welfare measures have stalled in recent years, as agriculture groups raised concerns they would affect livestock operations.