|Dear Senate District 48,
– Week 1 –
The 90th General Assembly Has Begun!
The 2023 session of the 90th General Assembly is underway. This week, we welcomed a total of fourteen new members to the Iowa Senate. Nine new Senate Republicans were sworn into office, officially beginning the start of the first supermajority in the Iowa Senate in decades. Along with the new members, the Senate also elected Senator Amy Sinclair as the Senate President, making her only the fourth female to serve as Senate President in Iowa history. The week also brought many speeches, swearing-in ceremonies, committee meetings, visitors and even a few subcommittee meetings to begin the work of learning about proposed legislation for the session. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I have already begun to work on some important issues affecting Iowans all across the state. As bills get drafted, filed, and moved through the legislative process, please feel free to reach out with questions, comments and concerns. It is a pleasure to serve you in the Iowa Senate, and I appreciate hearing from each and every one of you.
Subcommittee Meetings for SF 15 and SF 16
I was excited to chair the first two subcommittee meetings in the Senate this session. Both were for bills that I sponsored. SF 15 is a bill that will provide additional funding from the general fund for the Veterans Home Ownership Assistance Program. This bill would appropriate an additional $500,000 for this purpose for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023. This would be in addition to the already appropriated $2 million that is allocated annually for this purpose.
SF 16 adds the violation, “steer a motor vehicle unreasonably close to or toward a person riding a bicycle…” to a section in the Code that matches the fine schedule for other motor vehicle violations. For a serious injury the fine becomes $500 and/or a suspended license for 90 days, and for a death the fine becomes $1000 and/or a suspended license for 180 days. Under current law the scheduled fine is $325. This bill adds bicyclists to the list of violations that have similar penalties for occurrences of serious injury or death related to both pedestrian and motorist accidents. By clicking on the above links to these bills you can follow their progress as they move through the legislative process this session. SF 15 is scheduled to be brought before the Veterans Affairs Committee next Tuesday, January 17th.
All legislative districts across the state have now been reapportioned based on the 2020 census data. The district I represent changed from District 46 to District 48 and also changes the counties that I serve. Although I work to serve all Iowans, the district I represent no longer includes Scott County. I now represent Iowans in most of Muscatine County, all of Louisa County, and parts of Des Moines and Henry Counties. Please click here to see the map of District 48. Over the past six months I have traveled to towns in the new part of the district for various events and meetings. It has been a privilege to meet many new constituents and to get a feel for the needs of these individuals, groups and communities. I look forward to meeting more of you in the future!
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Invests $1.5 Million in Building Creative Places
This week The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced it has awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to leverage local infrastructure projects and engaging programs that build culturally vibrant communities across the state.
The $1,573,997 in grants come from the department’s Iowa Great Places, Strengthening Communities, School Arts Experience, Artist Catalyst, Creative Places Project, Folk Arts Learning and Humanities Collaboration programs.
“Across Iowa, these projects are connecting Iowans to arts, culture and heritage programming and their local communities’ authentic character,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Chris Kramer said. “They represent the quality of life people value today when choosing culturally vibrant places to live, work and raise their families.”
The grant funding aligns with the department’s strategic goals:
- Cultivate and promote creative places, grow Iowa’s creative economy and workforce, and build the capacity of our cultural organizations.
- Preserve and enhance access to Iowa arts, culture, film and history.
- Provide dynamic lifelong learning opportunities while igniting creativity and innovation.
Congratulations to the following grant recipients from District 48!
Strengthening Communities Grants
Strengthening Communities grants support facility renovation and construction projects that promote youth development, healthy living and social responsibility in communities with fewer than 28,000 residents. The grants are made possible by an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.
Burlington Area YMCA: This grant supports a building renovation providing an inclusive, safe and accessible, ADA-compliant environment in locker rooms for all current and future members. Grant Award: $93,048
Humanities Collaboration Grants
Humanities Collaboration Grants support humanities projects that encourage contemplation and spark conversation, while engaging the community through collaboration between Iowa humanities organizations, institutions of higher education and schools. Funding for the grants comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal agency.
Muscatine Art Center curated and hosted an Exhibition on the Influence of Japanese Culture in the Midwest from the 1890s-1930s. The exhibition, entitled Captivated by Japan: Laura Musser McColm and her Era, ran from September 3rd through October 23rd, 2022. Grant award: $4,200
To see a complete listing of the Creative Places Project grants and their recipients as well as other grant opportunities offered through the Department of Cultural Affairs, follow the link below:
Senator Mark S. Lofgren
Iowa State Senator