2020 Session Pause – Week 11

Legislative Update:

Today, (5/29) the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) met at the special request of the Legislature and Governor. REC adopted LSA’s number of $ 7,941.2M for FY20, the current fiscal year. This is a $150M reduction from their March estimates. After much discussion, the three-person committee compromised at $7,771.6M for FY21, which is a decrease of 0.8% from earlier projections. The REC decided to punt on any changes to the FY22 number of $8,199.5M, a 4.1% projected growth due to all the unknown factors. They said they will take another look at it during their October meeting. The full REC report can be found here.

 

The REC met in March two weeks before the first COVID-19 related death was documented in the State of Iowa. Today REC identified a number of challenges to the following industries: manufacturing, agriculture, retail, and other operations. This has led to a state of high unemployment coupled with a volatile economy. Strengths include strong land prices, various pending economic treaties, strong financial institutions and the federal loan programs are expected to help keep businesses operational.

 

Below is the expected legislative schedule for the next 3 weeks.

  • June 3: State legislature convenes
  • June 5: Unofficial Second Funnel deadline
  • June 8: Floor debate begins
  • June 12: Rumored Budget release date
  • June 20: Sine Die (Adjournment)

 

VOTE on Tuesday ~ June Primary Election:

On Tuesday, June 2 voters who have not submitted an absentee ballot will be able to vote in the primary for U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, and state elected officials. Those who are voting in person on Tuesday, June 2 should look up their polling site, as Iowa counties are significantly reducing the number of sites for the primary election. As a reminder, if you are submitting an absentee ballot, it must be postmarked by Monday, June 1. A full list of primary candidates can be found here.

 

2020 Census:

The Iowa Census Complete Count Committee launched its “Key to the Future” Challenge on Wednesday, 5/27. This challenge is meant to increase the 2020 Census response rates. Lt. Gov. Gregg stated, “We are challenging every one of our cities and counties to help Iowa become No. 1 in response rates in the nation. We want to count everyone in Iowa because the 2020 Census shapes our future. Census data impacts how we plan and how we make decisions every day.” You can self-respond by one of the following three ways: online at 2020Census.gov, by phone at 1-844-330-2020, or by mail in paper questionnaires.

 

Relevant COVID-19 Updates:

Please note that the Governor’s press conferences are changing from a daily occurrence to only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This will continue though the duration of the legislative session.

 

State Updates:

Coronavirus Relief Fund:

  • On Friday 5/29 Governor Reynolds shared the full plan for the Coronavirus Relief Fund from the CARES Act. Funding is being distributed to Iowa businesses and families, farmers, communities, health care providers, expanding broadband access, and the State response to COVID-19. 

Iowa’s COVID-19 Cases:

The State’s coronavirus website remains the best location to see the State’s most up-to-date information. As of Friday (5/29) this is the following information available through the State’s coronavirus website. We are 13 weeks into the pandemic being documented in Iowa. There are 18,926 positive cases in all 99 counties, 522 deaths total, and 10,753 have recovered in Iowa. Over 147,748 Iowans have been tested total, meaning 1 in 21 Iowans have been tested at some point. There are 38 confirmed long-term care facility outbreaks and 8 confirmed production facility outbreaks.

 

There are status reports of monitoring and testing of COVID-19 in Iowa provided by IDPH and can be found here. In addition, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431.

 

Reopening:

  • On Tuesday 5/26 the Governor signed a proclamation extending the State Public Health Emergency Declaration through June 25 and included the statewide reopening of select businesses which began Thursday, May 28.

 

Testing & Treatment:

  • On Wednesday, 5/27 the Governor addressed questions about access for individuals with disabilities at Test Iowa sites. The Governor urged Iowans to utilize other testing methods such as private health care. A member of the Human Rights Commission and State Advisory Council for Brain Injuries who has epilepsy shared concerns about the lack of accessibility for Test Iowa sites to non-drivers.
  • For those who had an appointment on a Test Iowa appointment on Tuesday, 5/26 and were unable to make their appointment due to severe weather, the patient may go to a Test Iowa visit at their convenience, so long as they have their QR Code.
  • On Wednesday 6/27 the Governor announced a Test Iowa clinic in West Burlington is a collaboration between the Test Iowa program and Great River Health. This is the first partnership testing site.

 

Resources:

  • On Friday 5/29 Iowa Finance Authority Director Durham released details for the Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program (EFP) which went live immediately following the press conference. This program is intended to provide short-term relief to income-eligible renters and homeowners. It is estimated IFA will be able to take 20,000 applications on a first come, ready to proceed basis. For more information on the eligibility and application, click here. Those who don’t qualify for the program are encouraged to reach out to Iowa Legal Aid.
  • Through the CARES Act, there is funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the deadline to apply has been extended to June 30, 2020. Iowa families who are having difficulty paying their utility bills as a result of COVID-19 may apply at their local community action agency. For more information, click here.
  • The USDA has created a Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This program provides vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered 5% or more price decline, or experienced loss due to market supply chain disruptions as a result of COVID-19. The application deadline is August 28. For more information on the program, eligibility criteria, and the application click here.
  • The State has released $24M of the CARES Act discretionary funding to IDALS for the Disposal Assistance Program. This will provide funding to farmers who, as a last resort, have to humanely euthanize animals to prevent welfare issues. Funding will be made available through three rounds. The application for the first round closes on Friday, 5/29. There will be two other rounds of funding. Applicants must provide a W-9 and Veterinary Validation Form.
  • The Governor released an additional $3.5M of CARES Act money to the Pass the Pork initiative. These funds will be distributed to multiple recipients including Healthiest State Initiative, IDALS, AmeriCorps, and food banks. These funds are utilized to amplify efforts including expanding the program outside of pork to include beef, chicken, and other animal products.

 

Unemployment:

  • As of today the State unemployment rate is 10.2%. The Governor is setting aside $550M of the State’s CARES funding for the Unemployment Trust Fund.

 

Child Care: