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A roundup of state government and Capitol news items of interest for Tuesday:

IOWA LOTTERY SALES ‘STRONG: Iowa Lottery leader Matt Strawn told the authority’s board Tuesday that sales of lottery tickets have been strong in the first two months of the current fiscal year.

Sales for July and August were up more than 20% compared with the same period a year ago, while expenses were about 16% under budget because of the coronavirus pandemic and proceeds were running ahead of projections, he said.

The lottery’s “strong position” comes at a time when ticket sales for lotto jackpots like Powerball are “slumping,” but sales for traditional products like scratch and “insta-play” tickets are showing “consistent and incremental growth,” Strawn said.

Instant and scratch tickets account for about 70% of sales compared with 64% two years ago, while lotto products equate to 18% versus 30% in fiscal 2019, he noted.

Lottery officials said they expected to resume allowing players to claim prizes inside lottery offices late this week after halting that practice because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

APPRENTICESHIP GRANTS: Two new registered apprenticeship grant opportunities totaling $10 million now are available to provide training in an “earn and learn” model that helps employers create the workforce they need, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The grants — funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund — will help power Iowa’s economic recovery by incentivizing creation and expansion of apprenticeship programs with emphasis on recruiting individuals affected by the pandemic, Reynolds noted.

The opportunities combine on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction, providing the apprentice with a nationally recognized credential and employers with a skilled worker at the end of the program, she said.

The first grant opportunity is available to high schools, nonprofits and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. These grants total $5 million, with a maximum award of $50,000 per applicant.

The second grant opportunity is available to post-secondary institutions or health care employers. These grants also total $5 million, with a maximum award of $250,000 per applicant.

Both grants can be used to purchase equipment, tools, simulators, instructional materials, updated curriculum or other necessary items to expand or create registered apprenticeship programs that provide for online learning as well as hands-on learning, according to the governor’s office.

Grant applications must be tied to an existing registered apprenticeship program or commit to starting a new program no later than Dec. 31.

URBAN WATER PROJECTS: The state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship now is accepting pre-applications for cost-share funding to support conservation projects in urban areas, according to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.

Under the program, proposed urban water quality improvement projects should be spearheaded and implemented by local leaders, organizations and volunteers.

Naig said successful pre-applications made by Dec. 4 should leverage existing partnerships with local stakeholders who could help contribute financial and technical resources to ensure their success.

Cities, counties, county conservation boards, Soil and Water Conservation Districts or other units of government, not-for-profit non-governmental organizations, public water supply utilities or watershed management organizations are eligible to submit pre-applications.

Examples of eligible urban conservation projects include bio-retention cells, bio-swales, native landscaping, permeable pavement, rain gardens, tree trenches and wetlands, according to ag officials. The conservation practices capture and treat rainwater to reduce sediment entering local waterways and flash-flooding.

Pre-application guidance can be found at iowaagriculture.gov/dscwq/requests-proposals or by calling (515) 281-5851.

RURAL REVITALIZATION: State Department of Cultural Affairs officials say Iowa is 1 of only 8 states to receive a federal grant that helps rural communities preserve their heritage and foster economic development through revitalization of historic properties.

Iowa’s State Historic Preservation Office is in line to receive $600,000 in Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants that are funded through the Historic Preservation Fund and administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

Iowa officials plan to provide sub-grants for the entire $600,000 to historic preservation projects in Iowa. Rural revitalization sub-grants in the amount of $75,000 to $125,000 will be available to local governments and nonprofits that own properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to state officials.

More information is available at iowaculture.gov/history/preservation.

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