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This has been a short week at the Capitol due to the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday. My colleague Senator Brad Zaun took a moment Wednesday morning to commend our former State Senator and current US Senator Joni Ernst. Senator Ernst delivered the Republican response to the President’s State of the Union response, which is a great honor for a freshman Senator. On a personal note, working with Joni for the last two years has been an honor for me. And I believe all of Iowa will appreciate her service in the US Senate. She is a remarkable person. Also on Wednesday many veterans were at the Capitol and were honored at a ceremony by Governor Branstad. Thank you to all veterans for their sacrifice and service to a grateful nation.
One issue that has generated a lot of e-mails from constituents and from schools is the question of school start dates. For me, the primary consideration is the matter of local control. The legislature, in my opinion, too often makes decisions that could be better left to the local school boards, and this is a good example of that. I do welcome any thoughts you have on the issue.
We can all agree clean water is a priority for Iowa, and again that is an issue that we will be dealing with again this year. In 2000, there was bi-partisan legislation creating the “I on Iowa” water quality initiative. This legislation was signed by then Governor Vilsack, and was designed to improve soil conservation efforts. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) directed funding specifically for the installation of additional buffer strips, retention ponds, and grass waterways to keep the soil on the ground.
The Legislature also appropriated $35 million in the newly created Environmental First Fund (EFF), which dedicated these resources specifically to improve water quality and lower soil erosion. EFF is still producing results. In addition, there have been many special programs implemented since 2000, including the Nutrient Management Plan of 2013. This was designed to help lower the hypoxia in the Gulf by 45 percent through the voluntary efforts of thousands of Iowa producers.
I am willing to work with everyone to find meaningful solutions for agriculture and for Iowa. Water quality has been in the news recently after it was reported the Des Moines Water Works Board of Trustees voted to proceed with a lawsuit against three northwest Iowa counties due to high nitrate levels found in the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. The pending lawsuit, under the Clean Water Act, was approved by the water works board on January 8.
We have made great progress in water quality by working collaboratively, and as Iowans we need to continue to work together to address these issues. That begins with communication, not a lawsuit.
Next week I’ll be meeting with the Oskaloosa chapter of the FFA, and also a group from the Oskaloosa Christian School, when they come to the Capitol on Tuesday. Please contact me about the issues that are important to you. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And I always encourage constituents to come to the Capitol to visit. I will always take time to see you.
Senator Ken Rozenboom
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