Des Moines Register. February 6, 2019
Roses & thistles: A salute to firefighters who helped welcome new Iowan into world
A rose to two long-serving Iowa firefighters who don't know the meaning of "off duty." Bryan Johnson and Jason Aarhus had worked 24-hour shifts when an emergency call came in that a pregnant Cedar Rapids woman was having her baby in her living room. She needed an ambulance, but 3 inches of snow had recently fallen, and help was needed to clear the driveway.
The two firefighters drove to the home in their own cars, used their own shovels and cleared not only a path for the stretcher, but the entire driveway. In all, five firefighters helped the Abram family welcome their new son into the world. They made sure the new 6-pound, 18-inch Iowan was breathing and clamped the umbilical cord.
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A thistle to State Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, for introducing a bill "solving" a problem that doesn't exist. Unfortunately, this is hardly a rarity in the Iowa Legislature.
But this particular bill also tries to portray state government as intrusive. It bars the Iowa Department of Transportation from recommending that cities reduce vehicle lanes on Iowa highways within city limits.
House File 41 would prevent the DOT from "presenting" to municipalities or "encouraging" governing bodies to adopt a plan reducing lanes. Salmon says she's seeking to rein in the DOT, which she claims is pushing cities to adopt so-called "road diets."
City officials tell a different story. They say they rely on the state agency's recommendations to make decisions about highways passing through their towns. Translation: We welcome their suggestions.
"I don't think the state government should be pushing a top-down, bureaucratic idea on communities," Salmon said.
It isn't. The Iowa DOT has been sharing information about this issue with local governments for 20 years. There isn't a problem. What is a problem: lawmakers pushing a top-down bureaucratic ban on communication between Iowa governments.
A thistle to Rep. Jeff Shipley, a Republican from Fairfield, for introducing a bill requiring Iowa students to read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's book, "The Gulag Archipelago," as a condition of high school graduation in this state. Schools would have to pay for the copies.
House File 194 directs officials at public and nonpublic schools to "require all students read and demonstrate comprehension of excerpts" of an abridged version of a book described by Amazon.com as an attempt to compile a literary-historical record of the "vast systems of prisons and labor camps" that came into being after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in 1917.
Can Shipley be serious? Imagine if all 150 Iowa lawmakers mandated their favorite books be read and comprehended by students in order to receive a high school diploma.
A rose to those who participated in the University of Iowa's 25th annual student-led Dance Marathon, which raised nearly $3 million for the UI Stead Family Children's Hospital. During the Feb 1-2 event at the Iowa Memorial Union, students unveiled the total of $2,960,403.25 to support pediatric oncology patients and their families at the hospital and to advance cancer research.
In addition to raising money, the event celebrates the lives of children survivors and recognizes those lost throughout the year. The Dance Marathon, UI's largest student organization, has raised almost $28 million since its first event in 1995.
Sioux City Journal. February 7, 2019.
Many questions exist about legalized recreational pot use in Iowa
From the beginning of the discussion, we have supported a medical marijuana program for our state because we have compassion for Iowans who seek relief through cannabidiol for medical conditions from which they suffer.
Moving forward, we have urged the state to study ways of improving Iowa's medical marijuana program, including an expansion of illnesses for which cannabidiol can be used as treatment. A 2014 law legalized medical marijuana for epilepsy; a 2017 law expanded the state's program to include cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, Crohn's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and any terminal illness with a life expectancy of under one year.
Last month, the state added ulcerative colitis to the list of conditions. On Friday, the Iowa Board of Medicine will discuss the addition of "severe, intractable pediatric autism with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors."
We urge state leaders to remain open-minded to the addition of more conditions to the approved list.
At this point, however, that's as far as we wish to see the state go on marijuana. We stop short of support for the expansion of legalized marijuana to include recreational use. On Monday, Sen. Joe Bolckom, D-Iowa City, announced he plans to file a bill to make recreational use of marijuana legal.
We acknowledge the growing "green wave" in America. Ten states have made recreational marijuana use legal. The list may get bigger this year as multiple additional states consider such legislation.
For that reason, we do not oppose a start to dialogue about the issue within our state.
For today, though, we have too many questions related to the myriad ramifications of legalized recreational pot use to say we support taking this step here, including questions about public health and safety, regulation, taxation and profit.
Because no compelling reason exists for a quick decision about legalized recreational use of marijuana in Iowa, state leaders can and should take all the time necessary for a thorough, careful review of the issue.
Fort Dodge Messenger. February 5, 2019
Iowa tops the nation — again
Iowans have put a high priority on education since the pioneers first settled the Hawkeye State. It is a tribute to that emphasis — and a source of pride — that ours is the state with the nation's highest graduation rate for high school students. According data just released by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, the Hawkeye State ranked No. 1 in 2017 (the most recent year for which data are available) with an impressive graduation rate of 91 percent.
Gov. Kim Reynolds welcomed that news and emphasized that she is determined to keep education a key focus of her team.
"Education is a top priority for my administration and I am proud of our record investments in pre-K-12 education last year and my efforts to build on that with $93 million in additional dollars," the governor said. "While we can be proud of where we are, there's a lot more work to do to ensure our students not only graduate high school but they do so ready to meet the demands of the 21st century."
The quality of the schooling all across Iowa is for the most part exceptional. Iowa students consistently rank high in comparison with those in other states on assorted measures of academic performance. That's true for both the state's excellent public schools and its many fine private institutions.
The Messenger is delighted that Iowa is leading the nation in education. We congratulate the teachers and other educational professionals who have dedicated themselves to helping students learn. We also applaud the many parents who help motivate their children to take advantage or the opportunities our fine schools offer. We urge members of the Legislature to join with Reynolds in committing themselves to making certain that the resources needed are made available to keep our schools the envy of the nation.