Iowa

CSG Midwest
Four state legislatures in the Midwest made major moves on transportation policy this year, adopting increases in motor fuel taxes that in some cases had been left unchanged for more than a decade.
This decision to boost funding for roads and bridges was one of the region’s more notable legislative trends from the past year. Several factors, transportation experts say, caused 2015 to be a breakthrough year for transportation measures — lower gas prices, growing shortfalls in state transportation funds, gubernatorial and legislative leadership, and the support of key business groups.
In this region, the tax hikes on gasoline and diesel fuel have already taken full effect in Iowa and South Dakota. Nebraska’s four year, phase-in plan begins in January, while in Michigan, the state’s new transportation plan won’t be fully implemented until 2021.
CSG Midwest
Across the country, the number of “earn while you learn” programs is growing rapidly, and some states in the Midwest are leading the way with new policies to expand apprenticeship opportunities.
CSG Midwest
If all goes well with a pilot program launched this summer, Iowa may soon be the nation’s first state to offer digital driver’s licenses to residents.
CSG Midwest
Hundreds of miles downstream from the farm fields of Iowa and the municipal water systems of Wisconsin, an enormous toxic “dead zone” continues to plague the Gulf of Mexico. This year, the zone — unable to support aquatic life due to an overgrowth of algae that sucks up all the oxygen — was measured at 6,474 square miles, bigger than some states.
All of the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution that enters the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to its mouth in Louisiana contributes to this environmental, and economic, problem.
What is the solution?
Science-based assessments show that in order to eliminate these dead zones, nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Gulf of Mexico needs to be reduced by 45 percent.
“It’s going to take much more than a tweak here and a tweak there,” Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says about meeting that goal. But that is the objective that his state has set under its nutrient-reduction strategy, which came from Iowa’s long-standing involvement in the Hypoxia Task Force: a state-federal partnership working to shrink the size of the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.
CSG Midwest
Iowa and Indiana are moving ahead with a mix of new programs and tax policies designed to expand broadband development in the state’s rural areas. In Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad made his “Connect Every Acre” proposal a top priority this past legislative session. With passage of HF 655, the state is establishing a grant program for service providers that install broadband in areas that connect farms, schools and communities.

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