IN THE NEWS
Refugee children brought to Iowa
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office said 19 refugee children were flown to Des Moines and transported to sponsor families last month, despite her previous rejection of a federal request that immigrant children be housed in Iowa. Reynolds’ office said the federal government on multiple occasions denied the April 22 flight was part of a federal refugee settlement program, but on May 21 confirmed that it was. Reynolds said she and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, both Republicans, have joined Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s call for a U.S. Senate judiciary committee hearing on immigration issues at the U.S.-Mexico border. Refugee children also were recently settled in Tennessee.
Dry Iowa: Nearly 90% of Iowa is experiencing some degree of drought, according to the latest water summary update issued by a coalition of state and federal agencies. Iowa’s statewide average precipitation totaled 3.71 inches in May, or 1.13 inches below normal.
Big winner: Iowa lottery officials said a Mega Millions ticket purchased at Barry’s Mini Mart convenience store in Harpers Ferry is worth a $1 million payout to the owner. The ticket came within one number of having a share of the $56 million jackpot.
Marketing Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will use pandemic relief funds on a marketing campaign to persuade people to move to Iowa, a state that has a job surplus and has lifted COVID-19 restrictions more quickly than other states.
THEY SAID …
“While there is an opportunity for increased revenue, this decision was based on enhancing the fan experience and providing an additional amenity to our fans.”
--- University of Iowa athletic director Gary Barta, on the expansion of alcohol sales at athletic events
“Everybody else kind of faltered coming in, unfortunately for those, but fortunate for me.”
--- PGA Champions Tour golfer Stephen Ames, after winning the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines
ODDS AND ENDS
Fleet update: The Iowa Transportation Commission approved more than $7 million in federal funding for 78 new public transit vehicles in 21 different public transit systems that will replace vehicles past their useful life.
State settlements: The state agreed to pay $5.7 million to offer compensation for or settle eight separate accusations of discrimination and negligence at its public universities.
New wardens: The appointments of new wardens at correctional facilities in Anamosa and Fort Dodge have been approved by the Iowa Board of Corrections.
THE WATER COOLER
Earmarks return: After a 10-year ban on congressional earmarks, Iowa’s U.S. House members seek more than $51 million for projects ranging from expanding child care centers to modernizing Mississippi River locks and dams.
Vaccine campaign: The Iowa Department of Public Health launched a multimedia marketing campaign to inform more Iowans about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and to encourage them to get vaccinated.
Crops emerging: Iowa farmers have planted most of their corn and soybean acres with much of the 2021 crop now emerged and growing.
IN THE NEWS
GOP leaders back Iowa caucuses
State party leaders in the four early voting states released a joint statement expressing their support for the presidential nominating calendar to remain the same, including Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. In order, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina cast the first choices for president every four years. Democrats are weighing potential changes to that early-voting calendar, threatening Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus status — at least on the Democratic side. Nevada recently approved legislation that would move its primary to first in the nation, although the national party would need to act before that became a reality.
Divisive topics: Iowa schools, public colleges and government entities cannot teach so-called divisive concepts --- including that moral character is determined by one’s race or sex, or that the United States and Iowa are fundamentally or systematically racist --- under legislation signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Traffic deaths: So far this year, at least 119 people have died in traffic crashes on Iowa highways — a total up over 25 percent from the death toll of 95 for the same period one year ago. Last month’s toll of 41 traffic deaths was the highest for May in nine years.
Roads budget: Iowa transportation officials are expecting a fairly status-quo highway improvement program over the next five-year planning period, with about $3.6 billion targeted toward projects aimed at enhancing safety and modernizing and maintaining Iowa’s current network of roadways.