Special Capitol Report
April 20, 2020
By: Paula S. Dierenfeld, Katie Graham
It truly is beginning to feel like Every Day is Groundhog Day… today is just like yesterday, only more of the same.
More Uncertain Times. On April 9, the Legislative Council met telephonically to extend the suspension of the 2020 legislative session until April 30. There were questions at the meeting about what the timeline of the session will be once legislators return, whether policy bills will be considered, and what will be the impact of COVID-19 on the FY 2021 state budget. Senator Jack Whitver said it’s too early to know the answers to any of the questions – so much depends, he said, on how long the virus continues to spread and when the economy will be up and running again. About 30 days of the session were left when legislators went home on March 17. Before leaving the Capitol, the legislature extended the current year’s budget (FY 2020) until the end of August.
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More Home Cooking. Governor Kim Reynolds issued her first COVID-19 emergency proclamation on March 9. She issued it in response to a report that eight Iowans, all of whom had travelled overseas, tested positive for the coronavirus. In that first proclamation, the Governor ordered “all state agencies to utilize all resources necessary to prevent, contain and mitigate the effects of COVID-19.” Since then, the virus has spread throughout the state and the Governor has issued eight more proclamations, and in each she has accelerated the actions she has taken to fight the virus. The Governor has closed all restaurants and bars, and most retail businesses, has limited the size of social gatherings to no more than 10, and has urged all Iowans to “stay home.”
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More Time to Bond. This past Thursday, Governor Reynolds issued her most recent proclamation and in it ordered Iowans in Region 6, the state’s 14 most northeastern counties, to limit their social gatherings to family members only, except for funerals, weddings and religious gatherings that are still limited to 10. She also reinforced the need for workers to work remotely, if possible, and for employers to take reasonable precautions to protect workers that cannot work from home. The Governor said additional restrictions were needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in that part of the state that has reached a “level 10.”
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More Flashcards and Board Games. On Friday, the Governor announced schools will remain closed for the rest of the year and that all spring sports activities would be cancelled. She said a decision will be made about summer sports and other summer school-sponsored activities by June 1. Governor Reynolds said the requirement that schools can start no earlier than August 23 will also be waived to allow local decisions to be made on the length of the next school year.
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More Data and Projections. Also last week, a team of researchers at Iowa State University released information about a model they have developed to explain and predict the spread of COVID-19 in the state. According to the ISU model, the rate of transmission has slowed since March 16, when it reached its peak, but the virus continues to spread. A member of the research team, Assistant Professor of Statistics Yumon Qui, said “Social distancing has made a significant impact in Iowa to slow the spread, but Iowa’s battle with COVID-19 continues to develop and change rapidly. Our models can help policy makers determine what strategies are working and when more needs to be done to mitigate this global pandemic.”
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More Final Words… Break up the monotony and do something different. If you haven’t already… Give blood. Donate to the food bank. Order take out from your favorite restaurant. Most importantly… keep calm and keep your distance.