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Iowa Capitol Digest for Tuesday, Sept. 21

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A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest from Tuesday:

Five Iowa schools were among 325 nationwide named as 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Tuesday.

The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

The Iowa schools are the Bedford Elementary School in the Bedford Community School District in Bedford; the Pleasant Valley High School, Pleasant Valley Community School District in Bettendorf; Lewis Central Senior High School, Lewis Central Community School District in Council Bluffs; Hills Elementary School, Iowa City Community School District in Hills; and Spencer Middle School, Spencer Community School District in Spencer.

“This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish,” Cardona said.

According to the department, the National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

Now in its 39th year, the program has bestowed about 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools. Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year.

MILLER ISSUES VEHICLE WARNING: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is warning Iowans that storm-damaged vehicles from parts of the country hit with hurricanes and flooding could be headed to Iowa, creating a dangerous situation both for consumers’ wallets and Iowa roads.

“Thousands of vehicles were severely damaged in recent hurricanes," Miller said in a statement Tuesday. “The threat is that a vehicle may be repaired only cosmetically, moved to Iowa, and offered for sale without indication of the prior damage.”

The current high demand in the used car market compounds fears that flood-damaged vehicles will make their way to the state and Iowans will become victims of scammers, according to the AG’s office.

“This demand could give fraudsters an opening to take advantage of Iowans eager to buy used vehicles, leaving them to pay more and risk costly repairs in the future,” Miller said.

According to Consumer Reports, floodwaters can destroy electronics, lubricants and mechanical systems in vehicles. Over time, the car’s vital electronics, including air bag controllers, can be destroyed by corrosion stemming from floods.

Iowans considering purchasing a used vehicle in the months ahead should go to www.NICB.org and punch in the VIN to see if it is on the registry. If a vehicle is on the list, most consumers should avoid buying it.

Additionally, it is important to also obtain a full vehicle history report. These reports can be acquired at https://vehiclehistory.bja.ojp.gov/, which is run by the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

CLEAN ENERGY: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has proclaimed Sept. 20-24 as Clean Energy Week in conjunction with the fifth annual National Clean Energy Week.

Reynolds noted that Iowa’s nearly 5,900 wind turbines generate 60% of the state’s electricity — the highest wind power share for any state.

“Across Iowa, clean and readily abundant forms of energy power more homes and businesses than ever before,” Reynolds said. “The clean energy sector is a growing part of the economy and has been a key driver of growth in Iowa in recent years, with 28,953 Iowans currently employed in the clean energy sector.”

Additional information about National Clean Energy Week is available at https://nationalcleanenergyweek.org.

FARM TO TABLE TALK: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Vice President John Lawrence on Monday announced members appointed to the Farm-to-table Task Force.

They were directed during the 2021 legislative session to establish and co-chair the Farm-to-table task force to identify strategies that will improve the farm-to-table supply chain, making it easier for farmers to access markets and sell their products.

The task force is charged with understanding and recommending how institutional purchasers, including schools, may procure food derived from local or regional producers and processors; including meat, dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables, nuts and honey.

Additionally, the task force, which will hold its first meeting next Monday, will review existing practices and recommend ways to improve direct-to-consumer transactions, donation efforts and nutrition programs and submit its finding to the Legislature by Dec. 10.

Members include Naig, Lawrence, Jan Libbey, One Step and a Time Gardens; Bob Howard, Country View Dairy; Corinne Rowe, Rowe’s Red Cows; Penny Brown Huber, Prairie Rivers of Iowa; Darrell Goering, Milo Locker; Steve Winders, Loffredo Fresh Produce; Jason Grimm, Iowa Valley RC&D, Grimm Family Farm; Kelly Foss, Des Moines Farmers Market; David Smigo, Cornell College Dining; Bon Appetit; Ellen Walsh-Rosmann, Harlan CSD Food Service; Farm Table Delivery; Matt Unger, Des Moines Area Religious Council; and Aaron Lehman, Iowa Farmers Union.

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