A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Thursday, April 8, 2021:
REYNOLDS’ OBSERVATION: Comments made by Gov. Kim Reynolds to a radio audience Thursday about the hypocrisy being displayed by President Biden and Democrats in control in Washington, D.C., caught the ear of minority Democratic leaders at the Iowa Capitol where Republicans run the show.
Appearing on iHeartRadio’s “Need to Know with Jeff Angelo” program, the governor lambasted Biden as “out of control” for issuing presidential executive orders “at a rapid speed” to implement policies that Washington Democrats likely could not get through Congress.
“We’ve got two parties that need to come together, have a conversation, have a dialogue, discuss the issues and then weigh in,” Reynolds said. “That’s the process where you understand each other’s position and you can find hopefully some type of compromise but they’re not interested in that.”
The Republican governor made her remarks shortly after referring to tentative plans to meet privately with GOP leaders to discuss 2021 session priorities.
House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard of Charles City called the governor’s comments “almost laughable,” saying all his requests for bipartisan meetings in the Iowa Legislature have gone unanswered.
Democrats, who are outnumbered 18-32 in the Senate and 41-59 in the House, have been virtually shut out of the legislative process, he said, as Republicans negotiate budget and policy priorities as the session winds down.
MARCH WETTER, WARMER: Drought conditions are improving across the state, thanks to more precipitation than usual during March, according to the latest Water Summary Update.
In March, 2.62 inches of precipitation fell across the state, a half inch above normal. Almost 60 percent of the state is now free from any dryness or drought designation, an improvement from conditions a month ago.
Drought and abnormally dry conditions improved across Iowa during March as above-average precipitation helped ease dryness. Conditions at the beginning of March showed 52 percent of the state in dryness or drought and 41 percent at the end of the month.
March was a warmer than normal month, a reversal of the colder than normal February. Overall, the statewide average temperature was 42.3 degrees, or 6.4 degrees above normal.
March’s statewide average maximum temperature was 52.5 degrees, and the average minimum temperature was 32 degrees.
De Soto, in central Iowa, reported the month’s high temperature of 78 degrees on March 29 -- 21 degrees above average.
Elkader, in northeast Iowa, reported the month’s low temperature of 7 degrees on March 2 -- 9 degrees below average.
Current streamflow conditions across most of the state remain in normal conditions.
For more, visit iowadnr.gov/WaterSummaryUpdate.
REFUND FOR TRUCKERS: A Texas company has agreed to refund money to any Iowa truck driver who paid $149 to submit federal documents that can be filed for free.
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has reached an agreement with Compliance Processing Group of Frisco, Texas, which sent past-due notices to Iowa truck drivers under the name FMCSA Compliance Processing Group.
The letters warned that the truckers must “contact us immediately” or risk fines of up to $10,000 a day and be put out of service, per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The company’s mailer “deceptively implies it is sent by a government agency and that failure to respond could be punished with civil penalties,” Attorney General Tom Miller alleged. In smaller print at the bottom of the mailers, the letters stated that FMCSA Compliance Processing Group was not a government agency.
Motor carriers must update their information with the U.S. Department of Transportation every two years. They can do so for free at a federal website.
As part of the AVC, Compliance Processing Group agreed to refrain from soliciting, offering or selling services related to government compliance to Iowans. The company also agreed to provide full refunds to Iowa consumers who request one in the next year.
In 2018, the Attorney General’s Office reached a settlement with a Louisiana company over a similar mailing to Iowa trucking companies.
SMALL BUSINESS HELP: Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and the Iowa Economic Development Authority are working together to help small businesses.
Now, when a new business registers with the Secretary of State’s Office, it will be directed to resources available for Iowa entrepreneurs.
Those businesses will receive an email or flyer with its registration materials, directing them to IASourceLink.com, a free online resource from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation.
The site connects entrepreneurs and small businesses to more than 360 resource providers across Iowa.
Approximately 24,000 new business entities register with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office each year.
A sample of the email new businesses will receive can be seen here. https://s3.amazonaws.com/socialmedia.sos.iowa.gov/photos/SourceLinkMailing.png.
UNCLAIMED PROPERTY: State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is encouraging Iowans to review their financial information by monitoring their accounts and assets to prevent them from becoming unclaimed property.
Every year, the Treasurer’s Office receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property for a variety of reasons, including names being misspelled or outdated addresses.
Unclaimed property refers to money and other assets held by financial institutions or companies that have lost contact with the property’s owner for a specific period of time.
In Iowa, the assets are safeguarded in the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt until the owner or heir of the property is found. Common forms of unclaimed property include forgotten savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed checks, unpaid life insurance benefits, utility security deposits and safe deposit box contents.
Currently, the program is holding over $428 million in unclaimed property and has returned over $297 million to more than 563,000 individuals since Fitzgerald started it in 1983.
To see if you have any unclaimed property, visit GreatIowaTreasureHunt.gov.