A roundup of state government and Capitol news items of interest for Monday, Oct. 14, 2019:
NO DROUGHT SIGNS IN IOWA: Last month was the 15th-wettest September on record for Iowa, removing all drought designations from the state.
That is according to the latest Water Summary Update prepared by technical staff from various state and federal agriculture, natural resources, geological and emergency management agencies.
“The drier summer months have been offset by a very wet September. These conditions mean that we are headed into winter in good shape from a groundwater perspective,” said Tim Hall, coordinator of hydrology resources for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
While those conditions are good for the overall water supply as Iowa heads into the winter, Hall said, continued saturated soils make the state vulnerable to flooding should fall rains become more pronounced.
Statewide average rainfall totaled 6.17 inches, or 2.79 inches above normal, tying 1887 for the 15th- wettest September on record.
Precipitation totals for the month varied from 2.44 inches at Sheldon to nearly 14 inches in Dubuque.
Iowa temperatures averaged 68.2 degrees, or 5 degrees above normal, making this September the ninth-warmest on record.
The highest September temperature was recorded at 93 degrees throughout south-central Iowa. Estherville reported the month’s lowest temperature of 41 degrees, only 2 degrees below average.
NEW APPEALS COURT JUDGE TO TAKE OATH: Gov. Kim Reynolds is slated to administer the oath of office to Iowa Court of Appeals Judge Julie Schumacher of Schleswig in a public ceremony at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Iowa Supreme Court Courtroom at the Iowa Judicial Building in Des Moines.
Schumacher served as a District Court judge from 2017 until she was appointed to the appeals court this year.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in 1990 and her law degree from Creighton University School of Law in 1993. She served as a prosecutor in the Crawford County Attorney’s Office and as assistant city attorney in Denison.
Schumacher fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Judge Gayle Nelson Vogel.
NEW CHIEF JUDGE ON APPEALS COURT: Judicial Branch officials announced that the Iowa Court of Appeals has elected Judge Thomas Bower of Cedar Falls to serve as the court’s new chief judge.
Bower has served on the Court of Appeals since 2012. He is the 10th chief judge since the state Legislature established the Iowa Court of Appeals in 1976.
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The Iowa Court of Appeals is a nine-member, intermediate appellate court. It reviews appeals from trial court decisions that the Supreme Court has transferred to the Court of Appeals.
A decision of the Iowa Court of Appeals is final unless reviewed by the Iowa Supreme Court on grant of further review.
The majority of appeals filed in Iowa are decided by the court of appeals, with 1,223 opinions filed in 2018.
HEALTH SCIENCE TOOLKIT: The Iowa Department of Public Health has released the Iowa Health Science Work-based Learning Toolkit, a collection of resources to encourage middle- and high school students and adult job seekers to pursue health science careers.
The guide helps students and job seekers match their skills and interests with high-demand health careers in Iowa, including those that do not require more than two years of school, but still offer a competitive wage.
The toolkit project is in line with the Future Ready Iowa initiative. According to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care occupations are projected to add more jobs more quickly than any other occupational group, with about 2.4 million new jobs projected across the country by 2026.
In Iowa, the health care and social assistance sector was the largest employer in 2018, making up 14.5 percent of all covered public and private employment with 224,018 jobs.
The toolkit was released in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Hospital Association, Iowa Health Care Association and various health care service providers, educators and community partners.
To access the toolkit, visit educateiowa.gov/documents/sector-partnership/2018/10/opportunities-health-sciences-iowa-career-pathways.
VAPING CASES RISE TO 38: The number of cases of severe respiratory illness associated with vaping is up to 38 in Iowa. No deaths have been reported, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Of the 38 Iowa cases, ages range from 17 to 60, and 33 have reported the use of illicit THC products.
Mirroring national statistics, most of the people affect are male, and so far all those involved have recovered.
Health officials warn that Iowans should not use vaping and e-cigarette products because the cause of the outbreak is not yet clear and the long-term health effects of these products are unknown.
Patients with a history of vaping who are experiencing breathing problems should seek medical care.
Health care providers are asked to report severe respiratory illness in patients with a history of vaping or e-cigarette use to the state’s public health agency.