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Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday the formation of a partnership between the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Workforce Development to conduct laborshed studies across Iowa.

The studies will begin in July and will be conducted at no cost to communities.

Under the partnership, the two state agencies will finance a laborshed study for every county in the state, providing the data to local economic development organizations and partners for free.

Studies will be conducted on a biennial basis, with half the state receiving the study in year one and the other half receiving the study in year two.

Studies in existing economic development regions will be conducted together to allow for regional analysis.

The information is expected to help both existing and new businesses understand labor availability within an area based on current commuting patterns.

State officials say the studies will depict the scope and scale of a community’s available workforce.

They also will answer questions about labor availability, as well as characteristics about available labor such as employment status, likeliness to change/accept employment, education level, wages, skills/experience, current and desired benefits and job search resources used.

Guns at the Capitol

The recently completed legislative session drew Iowans by the thousands to the state Capitol building and with them a number of people with valid permits to carry concealed weapons into the Statehouse.

Dave Garrison, who oversees security at the Capitol entrances, said dating back to Jan. 1, a total of 140,444 people passed through security gates carrying concealed weapons.

He said that likely represented lobbyists or other regular visitors to the building who would have been counted multiple times over the period through early May. A total of 276 different gun permits were presented to the officers manning the metal detectors at Capitol entrances.

The data would not include legislators and authorized state employees who use swipe cards to bypass the security gates or armed law enforcement officers who enter the building, Garrison said.

Under a law the Legislature approved in 2017, Iowa has joined 20 other states in allowing some form of legal firearm carry for visitors, legislators, employees or all of the above.

Visitors to the Capitol can carry their weapons as long as they have concealed carry permits and their weapons are not visible.

Fuel prices

Retail gasoline prices charged at the pumps in Iowa went up an average of 2 cents per gallon this week and could go higher in the future as the price of crude oil rises.

Prices for crude oil increased anywhere from $3.87 to $4.26 per barrel and were considerably higher than market prices one year ago, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

The price of regular unleaded gasoline averaged $2.71 a gallon across Iowa this week, according to AAA. That was up 2 cents from last week and 19 cents per gallon higher than one year ago. The national average was $2.83 per gallon.

Retail diesel fuel prices in Iowa also rose 2 cents from last week, with a statewide average of $3.04 a gallon. One year ago diesel prices averaged $2.47 in Iowa. The national average if $3.09.

As for heating fuels, natural gas prices fell 3 cents and ended the week at $2.72/mmBtu.

Protest exhibit

The State Historical Museum of Iowa soon will be showcasing an exhibit depicting a successful human rights campaign in “Power of Protest: The Movement to Free Soviet Jews” — a traveling exhibit that will be in Des Moines from May 18 to June 7.

The exhibition — created by the National Museum of American Jewish History — showcases Americans’ efforts in the late 1960s through 1990 to free refuseniks.

The refuseniks were Jews who lived in the Soviet Union and were denied the rights to live freely, practice Judaism or leave the country due to their religion.

The exhibit will be on display at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines.

Admission is free and open to the public 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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