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Iowa

Governor seeks federal aid for northwest Iowa flood victims – Radio Iowa

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Governor seeks federal aid for northwest Iowa flood victims – Radio Iowa


Governor Kim Reynolds is calling flood related losses in northwest Iowa “staggering” and she is asking for a presidential disaster declaration to trigger federal aid for flood victims.

During a brief Sunday afternoon, Governor Reynolds said the preliminary estimate is “at least 1900 properties” in 22 counties have been swamped by flood waters and hundreds of homes have been destroyed.

“I can tell you the devastation is severe and it’s widespread,” Reynolds said. “In almost every community impacted the rivers crested several feet above record levels from the floods of 1993.”

Over a thousand Iowans stayed in emergency shelters Saturday night. By Sunday, at least 10 communities had no drinking water.

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“The seven day forecast calls for more rain,” Reynolds said, “which means flooding may continue to be an issue and may impact other parts of the state as well.”

Sixteen river gauges in northwest Iowa have already recorded historic flood levels. On Sunday night, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management director John Benson met with local officials about making preparations in the other places where those flood waters are headed.

“This is a very serious flood that we’re in right now and it is not going to cease,” Benson said. “It is going to blossom across the state.”

Benson said the key is protecting critical infrastructure, like drinking water plants. “Where it does become a challenge is if you have, like we had up in northwest Iowa…a completely excessive, unforecastable rainfall,” Benson said, “…but if we get normal stuff, they’re on top of it…We’re already having those conversations about what we can do to get better prepared for what we’re going to see here in the future.”

Last week over 10 inches of rain fell in northwest Iowa and the nearby river basins in Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota that drain into northwest Iowa. Donna Dubberke, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Johnston, said that’s eight times the average amount.

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“That water is now working its way down through the system,” she said, “so the concern with the forecast is we remain in an active weather pattern, which means periodic rain chances throughout the next week to 10 days.”

The governor is urging Iowans who get evacuation orders to heed those warnings. Helicopters were deployed to rescue residents after a levee was breached in Rock Valley and Iowa Department of Natural Resouces staff performed 250 water rescues throughout northwest Iowa on Saturday. Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Bayens said state troopers witnessed two drivers who ignored a “road closed” sign.

“Kind of barreled headlong into floodwaters, ended up getting swept away,” Bayens said. “We had one individual that was on the cusp of losing his life had the Iowa State Patrol Air Wing not spotted his heat signature in the water and was able to dispatch boats in a timely way to rescue him.”

Iowa Department of Transportation director Scott Marler said his agency has moved 23 pumps into northwest Iowa to try to clear water from roadways. On Sunday, the Iowa DOT moved 5000 Hesco barriers to build temporary levies in key locations.

Reynolds is asking President Biden to activate federal assistance for individuals as well as low interest Small Business Administration loans for businesses the following nine counties: Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Plymouth and Sioux Counties. The governor’s also seeking federal help for local governments in 22 counties that are dealing with damage to public infrastructure and the cost of removing debris. Those counties are Buena Vista, Cerro Gordo, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Floyd, Hancock, Humboldt, Kossuth, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sioux, Webster, Winnebago, Woodbury, Worth and Wright.

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On Sunday afternoon Governor Reynolds told reporters Rock Valley may be unable to quickly revive its drinking water plant and the Iowa National Guard may step in with a temporary system that produces drinking water for the community.



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Historic Flooding in Portions of Northwest Iowa

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Historic Flooding in Portions of Northwest Iowa


Historic Flooding in Portions of Northwest Iowa | Western Iowa Today 96.5 KSOM KS 95.7 – News for Atlantic, Audubon, Harlan, Red Oak and Western Iowa














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News and Information for Atlantic, Audubon, Harlan and Red Oak | Western Iowa Today





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Iowa businesses and lawmakers ignore warnings on child labor and reap consequences

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Iowa businesses and lawmakers ignore warnings on child labor and reap consequences



Lawmakers and trade group leaders, and managers who kept teenagers on the clock late, all colossally misjudged how this would play out, from proposal through implementation.

Iowa businesses have been openly disregarding federal rules about when and how much children can work, and the federal government has taken notice. Who are the victims?

  1. The exploited children.
  2. The owners and managers who scheduled the exploited children.

If you picked 2, congratulations! You’ve mastered the increasingly popular art of transforming guilt into grievance.

There is more to the story than this quiz reveals: Policymakers and a trade group gave the businesses a big push to start thumbing their nose at regulations on teenagers’ work hours. But even the more nuanced version can be accurately reduced to any of several memes. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the consequences of my own actions” comes to mind.

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The violations can’t be undone, so the path forward involves making the best of the situation. State government, which helped set the confrontation in motion, needs to take the lead on negotiating with the U.S. Department of Labor to reach broad settlements on the penalties for the child labor. With business owners saying fines could put them out of business, it could be appropriate for the state to take responsibility to keep that from happening. Everyone involved needs to follow federal rules. And Iowa’s law will need an update in 2025 so that businesses can’t receive inconsistent directions.

More: Businesses are caught in the middle of conflicting child labor laws. How do they vary?

How Iowa’s child labor law became a catastrophe

The idea of loosening Iowa’s child labor laws came up at work group meetings in 2022 that involved Iowa Restaurant Association President and CEO Jessica Dunker, other industry lobbyists, and Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend, according to public documents obtained and posted by progressive activist David Goodner.

A few months later, bills with wide-reaching provisions removing protections were introduced in the Iowa Legislature. A few extra-terrible ideas, such as making employers immune from liability when kids get hurt, were tossed overboard in the succeeding months. But the bill Gov. Kim Reynolds signed in May 2023 still fixed things that weren’t broken, creating new problems.

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Both before and after the bill passed, Statehouse Democrats and the Biden administration’s Labor Department said loudly that Iowa was risking trouble by saying teenagers could work later and more often than federal rules allow. In such conflicts, the stricter version controls. Iowa said 14- and 15-year-olds could work until 9 p.m. during the school year and until 11 p.m. in the summer; the real standards are 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Enforcement should not have been a surprise. Iowa needs to clean up its mess.

As the Register’s Kevin Baskins reported, Dunker’s Iowa Restaurant Association encouraged members to take advantage of the state law. The Labor Department said it would “continue to monitor Iowa’s implementation of the law to assess potential obstruction of federal child labor protections.” The Labor Department was not kidding.

The Restaurant Association in a June 7 email said regulators were “out in full force across the state. They are taking massive punitive action against Iowa restaurants who are following the new state youth employment hours instead of the federal regulation on hours.” A Subway franchise owner who had not been fined yet told Baskins, “I followed the state law to the letter because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do.”

Dunker, Statehouse Republicans and others have expressed outrage, saying that the Labor Department should have either let Iowa scofflaws slide or taken a softer approach of warnings to businesses instead of fines. None of the objections is availing in the slightest.

Federal officials denied allegations that enforcement has been selective or inconsistent. But even if it was, rule breaking is still rule breaking; this argument didn’t fly when Connecticut’s Aaliyah Edwards illegally blocked Iowa’s Gabbie Marshall in the Final Four in April, and it doesn’t fly now. Also, are any of the people who are aghast that President Joe Biden is enforcing labor laws the same people who have been red in the face for months over Biden allegedly not enforcing immigration laws?

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The state needs to clean up the mess it set in motion. Cases involving far more egregious violations of child labor laws frequently conclude in settlements with less onerous penalties than those looming now. Iowa workforce officials and the attorney general’s office should take the lead in helping negotiate with the Labor Department to ensure that Iowans who followed terrible advice aren’t further hung out to dry. If the fines really do threaten to put anybody out of business, especially those without any history of labor-law problems, a bailout would be in order.

Sadly, it appears Iowa will dig in its heels instead. Reynolds on Friday announced a news conference for Monday in North Liberty about “excessive penalties against Iowa businesses that employ teens.”

Besides being illegal, Iowa’s law for teenagers doesn’t adequately protect childhood and education

There is room for well-meaning disagreement about whether the federal protections are, in fact, too strict. Advocates of Iowa’s law make a fair point that school-sponsored extracurricular activities keep students out much later than 7 or even 9 p.m. But the reasons for keeping some brakes on younger teens’ work are more compelling. Research frequently ties sleep deprivation with teenagers’ academic, social and mental health struggles. In the cases of families that are in such a precarious state that a child’s earning potential is vital to their well-being, Iowa would be better off supporting those families more directly. Children should have childhoods.

It should have gone without saying, of course, that the policy debate has nothing to do with whether businesses are required to observe the federal protections for 14- and 15-year-olds. Lawmakers and trade group leaders, and managers who kept teenagers on the clock late all colossally misjudged how this would play out, from proposal through implementation. They have only themselves to blame.

Lucas Grundmeier, on behalf of the Register’s editorial board

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FURTHER READING: Iowa restaurant lobby plays stupid games, wins stupid prizes

FURTHER READING: From 1946, “Why child labor laws?”

This editorial is the opinion of the Des Moines Register’s editorial board: Carol Hunter, executive editor; Lucas Grundmeier, opinion editor; and Richard Doak and Rox Laird, editorial board members.

Want more opinions? Read other perspectives with our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook or visit us at DesMoinesRegister.com/opinion. Respond to any opinion by submitting a Letter to the Editor at DesMoinesRegister.com/letters.





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