The Rozenboom Report – March 19, 2020

by Ken Rozenboom

The Rozenboom Report by Senator Ken Rozenboom
On Monday night and early Tuesday morning, the Iowa Legislature passed a series of resolutions to pause the legislative session for 30 days while the state works to slow the spread of COVID-19.

We passed a resolution, SCR 102, to allow us to adjourn until April 15, 2020 and pause the legislative deadlines for this year. The resolution also allows us to come back into session before that date if possible, or after that date if we cannot come back in 30 days.

We also passed Senate File 2408, which includes a supplemental appropriation of $525,000 to the State Hygienic Lab for additional COVID-19 testing, additional money for Medicaid, Hawk-I, and the Glenwood Resource Center. It also increases the governor’s transfer authority, allowing her the power to move money between budget items as necessary. The total for this supplemental appropriation is $91.8 million.

Additionally, this bill authorizes Governor Kim Reynolds to access the Economic Emergency Fund (EEF) for needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Under this legislation, Governor Reynolds can spend up to 10 percent of the fund ($19.6 million) to address the impact of the virus. The Legislative Council, a committee of both representatives and senators, could authorize the governor to spend all of the $196 million in the EEF without the legislature having to reconvene.

Finally, we set a level of spending to go into effect if legislators cannot make it back to the Capitol before the end of the current budget year on June 30. It sets spending levels for July and August 2020 at the current rate of funding for FY 2020, with the exception of education funding, which was passed and signed into law earlier this year.

Over the weekend, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Governor Reynolds recommended schools cancel classes for four weeks. The Legislature made provision to waive the requirement for Iowa schools to reschedule days canceled in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

All of these changes are temporary and only address the situation our state is facing. We have not had to face a situation like this before so it is important for us to ensure that the resources are in place to respond to the current crisis, but we need to also consider the precedent our actions set because they will be used as a guideline in the case of future emergencies.

Information on the COVID-19 outbreak is constantly changing and I urge you to stay updated as much as possible to keep you and your families safe. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) have put out guidance on appropriate actions to take and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.

These include:

Individuals 60 years of age and older with underlying health conditions should stay at home and avoid gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel to affected areas
Consider personal social distancing measures, like avoiding large gatherings, and limiting the number of attendees per gathering
Consider working remotely or online learning when possible
Encourage staff to telework when feasible, particularly those individuals at increased risk of severe illness
Limit non-essential work travel and gatherings
Wash hands often

Iowa currently has several cases of the coronavirus, and community spread appears to be occurring. Community spread occurs when a person has the virus but cannot specifically say when or where they got the infection or why they have it. As part of her efforts to control the public health situation, Governor Reynolds has implemented a number of emergency actions.

To keep up to date on what is happening or to answer any questions, I encourage you to check the CDC website on COVID-19 or the IDPH website. Additionally, a hotline has been established you can call 24/7 with questions. It can be reached by dialing either 211 or 1-800-244-7431. During this period, please feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns.

Posted by on Mar 19 2020. Filed under Local News, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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