The unchanging red light

Ira Lacher: “Drastic measures” to address novel coronavirus “need to be carefully weighed for their presumed benefits vs. their unintended consequences.” -promoted by Laura Belin

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about “flattening the curve” as it pertains to dealing with COVID-19. The premise is to keep down the number of patients needing hospitalization because America lacks the beds to treat them.

Health experts agree that doing so can reduce the number of severe cases. “If you don’t have as many cases coming to the hospitals and clinics at once, it can actually lower the number of total deaths from the virus and from other causes,” says Dr. Howard Markel of the University of Michigan, who has studied epidemics. “And, importantly, it buys us time for university and government scientists, and industry, to create new therapies, medications and potentially a vaccine.”

But it can also mean extending the disruption of virtually everyone’s life. And that’s not going so well with one of my neighbors.

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Steve King votes against coronavirus response bill (updated)

The U.S. House has fast-tracked a bill responding to the economic challenges created by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. All 223 Democrats present–including Iowa’s Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03)–voted for the bill shortly before 1:00 am on March 14, joined by 140 Republicans (roll call). U.S. Representative Steve King (IA-04) was one of 40 House Republicans to vote no.

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State board suggests more restrictive medical cannabis limits

Carl Olsen has been a leading advocate for medical cannabis in Iowa for many years and closely follows legislative happenings related to the issue. -promoted by Laura Belin

In a highly unusual move, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on the afternoon of April 12 that the Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board had rescheduled its planned meeting. Instead of convening for two and a half hours on May 3, the board would meet for one hour on April 16.

Members called the shorter, rushed meeting in order to discuss recommendations on the tetrahydracannabinol or THC cap and purchase limits in a bill the Iowa House approved last month.

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Iowa Senate committee puts THC cap in House medical cannabidiol bill

Carl Olsen reports on the latest legislative maneuvering around Iowa’s medical cannabis program. -promoted by Laura Belin

Key lawmakers said for months the 3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cap would never be lifted unless Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Advisory Board recommended doing so. Nevertheless, the Iowa House mysteriously decided to lift the 3 percent cap on THC shortly before the first legislative funnel deadline on March 8.

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Iowa House approves small steps on medical cannabis

“Is it perfect? No, it’s not perfect. Are we moving in the right direction? Absolutely,” Democratic State Representative Wes Breckenridge said shortly before Iowa House members approved a bill to improve our state’s medical cannabis program.

House File 732 would allow some Iowans to use more potent products and would make it easier for some patients to apply for a registration card. The House passed the bill by 96 votes to three after Breckenridge and Republican State Representative Jarad Klein praised each other’s consensus-seeking.

But for a suspenseful few minutes during the March 26 floor debate, the future of the bill was in doubt because of a first-term Republican’s far-reaching amendment.

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Representative Fisher’s last chance

Leaders of Iowa House or Senate committees can bury legislation without ever allowing discussion, let alone a vote. As Emma Schmit and Adam Mason report, that’s what’s happening with a bill that could help clean up our state’s filthy waterways. -promoted by Laura Belin

Republican State Representative Dean Fisher has less than one week left to do the right thing for Iowa’s rural communities, independent farms, and water quality.

Fisher has a choice to make this week. As chair of the House Environmental Protection committee, he is single-handedly holding up progress on a bill that would enact a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms. We aren’t talking about a floor vote or even a committee vote– we’re talking his outright refusal to even assign the bill to a subcommittee so that it could be debated.

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