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IOWA CAPITOL DIGEST: Funding urged for antitrust enforcement
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IOWA CAPITOL DIGEST: Funding urged for antitrust enforcement

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Iowa Capitol Building

The Iowa Capitol in Des Moines is shown in a June 2018 file photo.

A roundup of legislative and Capitol news items of interest for Tuesday, May 11, 2021:

ANTITRUST ENFORCEMENT: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has joined a bipartisan coalition of 45 attorneys general in sending a letter to congressional leaders requesting the federal government provide the necessary funding to support state antitrust enforcement efforts.

State attorneys general around the country, and from both parties, are leading antitrust cases against Big Tech firms. Late last year, Miller joined a bipartisan coalition of 48 attorneys general in a lawsuit against Facebook for anticompetitive conduct, as well as a bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general in suing Google on antitrust grounds.

These are just some of the examples of the many types of enforcement actions states have and can bring to challenge anticompetitive conduct by major players with vast resources in a variety of industries. Often working closely with federal partners, states bring these enforcement actions in the public interest to protect consumers and the competitive process.

The coalition was led by Miller as well as attorneys general from New York, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas and Utah.

BEAR FACTS: There’s a pretty good chance that a few wandering black bears coming down from Minnesota and Wisconsin will visit northeast Iowa in the coming weeks, according to Vince Evelsizer, furbearer and wetland wildlife research biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. It has been an annual occurrence in this region each spring since 2014.

Black bears are native to Iowa, but Iowa has been without a resident bear population for more than 100 years. Since 2002, there have been 43 confirmed black bears in Iowa, and two to five per year since 2014.

As black bear populations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri are stable to increasing, it is possible that a small population could set up residence in Iowa.

“Within the next three to five years, I think we can expect to see cubs show up and a small breeding population become established,” Evelsizer said. Most likely, that would be in areas of northeast, eastern and southern Iowa, areas with the habitat necessary to support bears.

Wisconsin’s black bear population is estimated at close to 30,000, Minnesota’s at 15,000 and Missouri, which is holding its first bear hunt later this fall, as many as 1,000.

“If you encounter a bear, avoid running away,” Evelsizer said. “Instead, back away slowly and cautiously while facing it. Make noise so they know you’re there.”

For more information, visit www.bearwise.org.

IMMIGRATION ACTION: Calling it “too big to ignore,” Gov. Kim Reynolds has joined 19 other governors in a letter urging the Biden administration to immediately address the crisis at the southern border.

“The cause of the border crisis is entirely due to reckless federal policy reversals executed within your first 100 days in office,” the 20 Republicans wrote. It has led to “the inhumane treatment of tens of thousands of children and undermined a fragile immigration system.”

Requests from the Department of Health and Human Services for states to house migrant children make it clear the Biden administration is leaving states on their own on to fix a crisis that it created, the letter said.

“We urge you to take action to end the humanitarian crisis and secure our southern border immediately,” the governors said.

U.S. HIGHWAY 52 INPUT SOUGHT: The Iowa Department of Transportation is seeking input on the proposed 2022 resurfacing on U.S. Highway 52 in the Winneshiek County towns Castalia and Ossian. Through traffic will not be detoured. Instead flaggers and pilot cars will be used.

An online public meeting is now available to view at www.iowadot.gov/pim. To view the meeting and related content, click on “U.S. 52” from the list of public involvement events.

The online meeting allows viewers to scroll through the information at their own pace and at any time. The Iowa DOT is asking interested parties to take a few minutes to view the information and offer any feedback before May 31.

For general information regarding the public meeting, contact Nick Humpal, assistant district engineer at (641) 423-7584 or (800) 477-4368, or nickolas.humpal@iowadot.us.

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