A roundup of state government and Capitol news items for Thursday:
DISASTER AREAS: Gov. Kim Reynolds sent a letter to President Donald Trump Thursday requesting a presidential disaster declaration for seven Iowa counties significantly damaged by severe storms and flooding last month. Counties included in the request are Allamakee, Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette and Mitchell. The governor requested funding under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program for storm damage that occurred in Iowa from July 19-23. The money would be used to rebuild damaged infrastructure, including roads, bridges, culverts and other public facilities or to cover costs of emergency work during and debris removal after the storms. Following a joint federal, state and local preliminary damage assessment of the seven counties, it was estimated the severe weather caused $7 million in damage that could be eligible under the Public Assistance Program. Reynolds also requested funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities for the entire state.
LOTTO FEVER TIMES TWO: Iowa Lottery officials said Thursday that lotto ticket sales are growing as two jackpots continue to swell. The jackpot for Friday’s Mega Millions drawing has been raised to an estimated $393 million annuity, which also could be claimed as a $246.5 million lump-sum prize. No one won Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot, but two tickets sold in Iowa each came within one number of hitting the big prize. A ticket purchased in Avoca in western Iowa won a $1 million prize, and a ticket purchased in Colfax in central Iowa won a $50,000 prize. Iowa Lottery players won more than 15,000 prizes ranging from $4 up to $1 million in Wednesday’s Powerball drawing. Because no one claimed the grand prize, the jackpot for Saturday’s Powerball drawing grows to an estimated $356 million annuity, or $224 million lump-sum option. Lottery officials say this is the first time that the jackpots in Powerball and Mega Millions have simultaneously topped the $300 million mark. Powerball’s big prize now ranks No. 14 overall in that game, and the Mega Millions jackpot currently is ranked No. 5 on the list of the biggest prizes ever offered in that game. Iowa Lottery officials say the odds of winning the jackpot in Mega Millions are about one in 258.9 million, and the odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball are about one in 292.2 million. To calculate the odds of winning both jackpots, multiply 258.9 million by 292.2 million, which Lottery officials say computes to about one in 75 quadrillion (or about 75,000,000,000,000,000). “Winning both jackpots is something fun to daydream about, but it’s perhaps the ultimate long shot,” Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said. “That’s why we emphasize responsible play. Have fun playing the lottery, but remember to play with your head, not over your head.”
IOWA FUEL PRICES: The price of diesel fuel in Iowa rose by 4 cents this week to an average of $2.49 per gallon. That was 3 cents below the national average diesel price but up 21 cents from a year ago when prices in Iowa stood at $2.28 a gallon. Likewise, the price of regular unleaded gasoline averaged $2.31 across Iowa, according to AAA, a boost of 3 cents a gallon from last week and 17 cents higher than a year ago. The national average for regular unleaded gasoline was $2.36 per gallon. On the heating fuels side, natural gas prices were down 7 cents to $2.77/MMbtu.
— Times Bureau