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After completing the session for the 88th General Assembly, I returned to my private-sector job and continue to work on legislative issues. I remain engaged with staff and constituents. 

Recent positive economic news shows Iowa’s unemployment rate for June decreased 2.2% from May, which was bolstered by a surge of over 50,000 non-farm related employment. The national unemployment rate also fell by 2.2% landing at 11.1% unemployment rate. Dropping out of double-digit unemployment is a good sign for the economic recovery.

This being an election year, and with a lot of misinformation surrounding election law and the voter integrity laws we enacted, I wanted to share some of Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver’s comments during a recent Legislative Council meeting.

“We want this election to be as accessible as possible, we need it to be predictable for campaigns, we need it to be uniform across the state so Iowans in every county are treated the same, and we need it to be as secure as possible.
This proposal accomplishes all of those things. After July 17, every campaign in Iowa – Republican and Democrat – will know the rules. They will know the Secretary of State will send out an absentee request form in addition to the many request forms sent from the campaigns as well.
Iowans will also have the confidence our election laws will be uniform across the state- you won’t have 18 counties sending out absentee requests and 81 not sending them out. All Iowa voters will have access to an absentee ballot request, no matter the county they live in.
Absentee requests will be secure. This order confirms county auditors will follow the new voter ID law and send out a blank form. Several counties were looking to skirt the new system and automatically populate the absentee requests with the confidential voter ID PIN.  This type of disregard for the law should not stand as it lends itself to possible fraud. With this order, it is clear any auditor who sends out a pre-populated form with the voter ID PIN is ignoring the law. Auditors and voters should be on notice that this action shows clear disregard for the law – and could easily lead to election fraud.
This proposal will provide exactly what I believe Iowans want in their elections – accessible to everyone, uniform in its application, and secure so Iowans know their vote will matter.”

As we head through summer and return to school, our school districts have had a lot to consider.  This issue is important and I am aware our educators and administrators are considering the best interests of all involved into their thought process. Ultimately, weighing in-person instruction against virtual instruction is in question.  With all the data out there, it is difficult to determine what is right. Considering health concerns of the virus versus the mental and physical health issues of remaining apart for our students, all options need serious consideration.

The American Academy of Pediatrics “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school,” according to the guidance. These coordinated interventions intend “to mitigate, not eliminate, risk” of SARS-CoV-2.  In further detail “Schools are critical to addressing racial and social inequity. School closure and virtual educational modalities have had a differential impact at both the individual and population level for diverse racial, ethnic, and vulnerable groups”, according to the guidance. “Evidence from spring 2020 school closures points to negative impacts on learning. Children and adolescents also have been placed at higher risk of morbidity and mortality from physical or sexual abuse, substance use, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.”  You can read more here https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/06/26/schoolreopening062620 . Continued isolation brings additional concerns for our students.  

Author: Craig Johnson