DES MOINES — With COVID-19 still spreading across Iowa, and public health experts warning that the global pandemic’s deadliest days may still be coming, Iowa Republican leaders plan to convene the 2021 session of the Iowa Legislature on its scheduled start date of Jan. 11, and to conduct their business in-person.
Legislative leaders face a balancing act of conducting the business of the Iowa Legislature with transparency while attempting to protect the health of themselves and any Iowans who come to the Iowa Capitol during the session.
Republican leaders ruled out two possible mitigation strategies: they do not plan to delay the start of the session, nor do they plan to implement a requirement that anyone in the Capitol wear a face covering.
Because Republicans have a majority in both the Iowa Senate and Iowa House, they determine how the legislative session will operate.
“Our No. 1 and 1-A (priorities) are making sure that we’re being responsible in our return, but we’re also able to work in a transparent manner. And I think we can do that,” said Republican House Speaker Pat Grassley, of New Hartford. “We showed that we did that in June, and I think we’ve all had more time to think of a way to approach session.”
Lawmakers suspended the 2020 session when the pandemic first hit Iowa in late March. After an 11-week break, lawmakers returned to finish their work on the state budget and a few pieces of legislation, including a landmark social justice package.
Republican leaders said they will build off that template — which included reducing the number of individuals in the House and Senate chambers, and holding some committee meetings in the chambers where there is more room — for the 2021 session.
Iowa’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been declining since the worst spike of the pandemic here, in October and November. Throughout December, those numbers have been in a steady decline and were approaching pre-spike levels.
However, national public health experts have cautioned that January could be the deadliest month yet for the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 343,000 Americans and nearly 4,000 Iowans.
The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed throughout the country, including in Iowa. But unlike members of the federal government, Iowa state lawmakers have not been prioritized to receive the vaccines.
Many state lawmakers are in the older age groups that are more susceptible to the serious effects of COVID-19. In 2019, nine state lawmakers were in their 70s, and the average age was 54.8.
“Our over-arching theme is we want to operate as normal as possible, as safely as possible, with full transparency so that everyone around the state can watch and participate in what we’re doing,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, of Ankeny. “In order for that to happen, not knowing exactly where we’re going to be at in the pandemic when the session starts, we are putting contingencies in place to operate a little bit more virtual, a little bit more where Iowans can watch or participate and not be at the Capitol.
“Those contingencies are being put in place, but we feel confident that we’re going to be able to have a productive session and operate as normal as possible at the Capitol.”
COVID-19 has already claimed the lives of state lawmakers elsewhere this month. New Hampshire’s House Speaker died of COVID-19 just a week after being sworn in, and a Minnesota state legislator died after being exposed to the virus at the state capitol.
New Hampshire’s state legislature is designing plans to conduct its business in drive-up fashion, similar to a drive-in movie, where lawmakers will park in cars and listen to speeches via a radio sound system, according to the Concord Monitor.
Whitver and Grassley said plans are being made to offer online viewing of committee hearings on legislation, and to reduce the number of legislative staff working in the chambers.
However, Whitver said lawmakers will not be required to wear face coverings inside the Iowa Capitol.
Public health experts say face coverings, especially when combined with social distancing and vigilant hand and face hygiene, are an effective tool in slowing the spread of viruses like the one that causes COVID-19.
“The prospect of going into the statehouse without a mask mandate is pretty scary, and frankly it will jeopardize the health and safety of everybody in the building, not just lawmakers, not just the public, not just the press. Everybody,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, of Coralville. “I'm worried that if we are expected to go to a Capitol where there is not a mask requirement, we will be accelerating the spread of COVID-19 rather than being a part of slowing the spread. And that will expose people like my mother, our staff, our members to a potentially deadly disease that has already claimed the lives of thousands of Iowans.”
In addition to the impact of COVID-19 on how they will conduct their business, legislators will debate whether the state should offer financial assistance to Iowa residents and businesses impacted by the pandemic. Any state relief would be in addition to federal pandemic relief, the second round of which was recently approved by Congress.
Iowa Senate Democrats have proposed using some of the roughly $300 million budget surplus to help address food insecurity, which has more than doubled in Iowa during the pandemic, according to Iowa Food Bank CEO Michelle Book.
“We know it’s been a tough year for a lot of people,” Whitver said. “There will be opportunities to fund some of the priorities. That’s just going to be up to the budgeting process. … We’ll use the normal budgeting process, which is figure out how much money is going to come in this year, figure out our priorities, and put a budget together that spends less than we bring in.”
Some Republican lawmakers are calling for an examination of emergency authority given to the governor and state public health department during a pandemic.
“I have grave concerns about the scope and duration of emergency powers, which seem to have no limits or end date in sight,” Sen. Zach Whiting, a Republican from Spirit Lake, told the Sioux City Journal. “The legislature needs to … consider how we can place appropriate limits, checks and balances, and provide remedies for individuals, businesses, churches, and other entities affected by executive overreach.”
Whitver and Grassley complimented Gov. Kim Reynolds for her guidance of the state’s pandemic response efforts. Whitver said he has not had any conversations about addressing executive authority, and Grassley said he feels that debate should be had at a later time, with the pandemic in the rearview mirror.
“I’m not convinced that right now is the right time. We’re in a pandemic,” Grassley said. “Hopefully we’re approaching the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine going out. But I think for us to make some of those calls while we’re still going through that, I’m not convinced is the appropriate time.”
Reynolds declined an interview request for the bureau’s legislative preview series, breaking a long-standing tradition of the sitting governor meeting with Iowa reporters to discuss issues that might be addressed during the session and in the governor’s Condition of the State address in January. According to Reynolds’ staff, the change was due to an “unprecedented year” which has required the governor to concentrate on preparations for her January 12 Condition of the State speech and focus on Iowa’s COVID-19 response and vaccine distribution.
Instead of meeting individually with Iowa news organizations, the governor plans to attend a roundtable discussion with member of the Iowa Capitol Press Association this week as her pre-session media availability.
Thank you for all the cards I received for my 96th birthday. Each card held a special memory. Thanks for the memories.
Kaylah Godfrey attains Master's
Congratulations to Kaylah Godfrey who graduated with honors from UNI on November 28th with her Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology. She will be starting her job with Central Rivers Area Education Agency in January as a school SLP.
We are so very proud of you Kaylah.
Love, from the Godfrey & Hepperly families.
Ted Wisman, 80
This awesome guy is celebrating his 80th birthday on January 3rd.
Please help us celebrate with a card shower. Wishes can be sent to 20722 Poplar Avenue, Mason City, IA 50401.
All our Love, Your Wife & Family
Happy 50th Anniversary!
Steve and Shelley (Stanton) Moore of Mason City were married January 1, 1971 at the Zion Lutheran Church in Clear Lake, IA. They have two children, daughter Shannon (Mike) Janssen of Mason City and son Zach (Kelly) Moore with two grandchildren Zoey and Kellan of Sewickley, PA. Family fur babies are Sparky, KC and Shelby. Family will celebrate when they can all be together in 2021. Here's to a Happy NEW Year everyone!
THANK YOU hardly seems enough to say for all the cards I received for my 80th birthday.
I enjoyed and appreciated each one.
May God Bless you for your thoughtfulness.
Prayer to Saint Anthony
Thank you St. Anthony for helping DM find what had been lost and for all my prayers you have interceded for me. RP
This prayer to St. Anthony asks for help in finding missing items:
Saint Anthony, perfect imitator of Jesus, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find (mention your petition) which has been lost. At least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss.
To this favor I ask another of you: that I may always remain in possession of the true good that is God. Let me rather lose all things than lose God, my supreme good. Let me never suffer the loss of my greatest treasure, eternal life with God. Amen.
Leo Chisholm, 90
90th birthday, Leo Chisholm
No big party this time due to the virus. So we decided to have a card shower for dad.
Send cards to Leo Chisholm at 5 Presidential Court, Osage, Iowa 50461.
His birthday is December 24th. Thank you and Merry Christmas!
Thank you so much for all the cards we received for our 60th Wedding Anniversary. We appreciate everyone thinking about us and taking the time to send a card!
Wendell and Karen Westphal
Idona Schott, 105
Idona (Gesme) Schott will be celebrating her 105th birthday on December 26, 2020. Idona holds the record for longevity in the Gesme lineage.
In lieu of a party due to the pandemic in Iowa, she would enjoy a card, a letter, or even a phone call of congratulations sent to her at 300 Second Street NE, Apt 300, Mason City, Iowa 50401.
Schroeder, 50 years
Happy 50th Anniversary Perry and Sandi Schroeder!
Perry and Sandi Schroeder of Garner were married December 19, 1970.
Celebrating with them are their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Doris Boehnke, 93
Doris Boehnke will turn 93 on December 23rd.
Birthday wishes for Doris can be sent to her at 1030 260th Street, Ventura, IA 50482.
Happy Birthday Mom from your kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. We hope you have a wonderful day!!
FOR OUR SON BEN HANSON
WE’LL MISS YOU AT CHRISTMAS
You never said I’m leaving,
You never said goodbye.
You were gone before I knew it,
And only God knew why.
A million times I needed you,
A million times I cried.
If love alone could have saved you,
You never would have died.
In life I loved you dearly,
In death I love you still.
In my heart you hold a place,
That no one could ever fill.
It broke my heart to lose you,
But you didn’t go alone.
For part of me went with you,
The day God took you home.
WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH
Prayer to Saint Expedite
Thank you St. Expedite for helping with my mom's health scare. RP
Prayer to Saint Expedite for Urgent Need
Prayer to Saint Expedite for Urgent Need
Our dear martyr and protector, Saint Expediter,
you who know what is necessary and
what is urgently needed.
I beg you to intercede before the Holy Trinity,
that by your grace my request will be granted.
(Clearly express what you want,
and ask him to find a way to get it to you.)
May I receive your blessings and favors.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
If Saint Expedite grants your request,
place an ad in the newspaper thanking Saint Expedite,
so that his name and fame will grow.
Wilson, 50 years
Happy 50th Anniversary Mom & Dad!
Gordon and Linda Wilson are celebrating 50 years of marriage. They were married December 18, 1970. Celebrating with them is their son Bryan and daughter-in-law Ashley, and 2 grandchildren Hannah and Harper Wilson. Cards can be sent to them at: 5 Crystal Heights Place, Ventura, IA 50482. A family party will be planned at a later date.
DeEtta Pearce, 90
DeEtta (Nemmers) Pearce, of Mason City, will celebrate her 90th birthday December 19, 2020.
DeEtta has six children: Randy (Mary Kay) Pearce, Plymouth, MN; Rick (Colleen) Pearce, Rockwell; Ron (Arlina - deceased) Pearce, Ankeny; Roger (Dee) Pearce, Mason City; Rob (JoAnn) Pearce, Mason City; and Deb (Todd) Kalkwarf, Aplington. She has 15 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Cards and well wishes may be sent to DeEtta at: 603 S Tennessee Pl, Mason City, IA 50401.
Happy birthday! We all love you so very much!
Jackie Eden, 80
is turning 80 years
~ young ~
on December 14th!
Help her celebrate with birthday wishes,
notes, memories or photos
PO Box 83
333 Way Avenue
Woden, IA 50484
Root - 50th Anniversary
Leon and Bev Root will celebrate 50 years of marriage on December 27, 2020. Their family invites everyone to shower them with cards for their celebration.
Please send cards and memories to Leon and Bev Root, 930 200th St, Latimer, IA 50452.
A big thank you to our family for making our 50th anniversary celebration wonderful, even under the circumstances of Covid concerns.
Thanks to all our family & friends for the all cards and best wishes. We deeply appreciate all of you!
Bob & Phyllis Rodgers
Patty Smith, 90
Patty Smith of Mason City will celebrate her 90th birthday December 16th!
Please help her celebrate with a card or good wishes.
Cards/messages can be sent to 1634 Fourth Street SW, Mason City, IA. 50401.
Noon Rotary Club December Student of the Month, Nguyen Cao
Nguyen Cao, a senior at Mason City High School, was chosen as the Noon Rotary Club Student of the Month for December. She is the daughter of Tuan Cao and Ai Pham, and sister of Kiet and Louis Cao.
Nguyen has been a member of Mason City High School choir for three years, art club for two years, and science club for one year. She is also a member of the National Honor Society. Her community service includes volunteering at One Vision and school community services day.
Nguyen plans to attend Iowa State University to pursue a degree in apparel design and architecture.
Congratulations to Anamaria Canchola's National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) Virtual Induction on December 2, 2020. Master of Social Work Program at Walden University - Concentration: Advanced Clinical Practice. Anticipating graduation in summer 2021. Anamaria was awarded Phi Alpha Honor Society in August 2019. In August 2018, Anamaria accepted an academic scholarship of $12,000 from Walden University. We are very proud of you, Steve, Aaron, & Anthony Canchola
Bernice Kirk, 101
Bernice Kirk is celebrating her 101st birthday on December 11, 2020. Because of the covid, there will be no party, but cards are welcome.
Her address is as follows:
216 Third Street North
PO Box 613
Rockwell, Iowa 50469
Nicholas, 70 years
Bill and Mary Lou Nicholas are celebrating 70 years of marriage. They were married December 17, 1950, at the First Methodist Church in Mason City, IA. Celebrating with them are their 3 sons Bill (Barb) Nicholas, Greg (Julie) Nicholas, Jeff (JoAnn) Nicholas, 5 grandchildren Carolyn (Gabe) Haugland, Greg (Erin) Nicholas, Emily (Cory) Gerdts, Andrew (Paige) Nicholas, Victoria Nicholas and 9 great-grandchildren. Cards can be sent to them at: 3554 Ocean Drive 704S, Vero Beach, FL 32963.
Margery Demaray, 90
Margery Field Demaray celebrated her 90th birthday in her home at 1717 Indigo Avenue, Rudd, Iowa. Margie is the Mother of five sons and their wives, Roger and Lou Ann, Ron and Ellen, Randy and Wendy, Rick and Julie and Russ and Candy. Grandmother to 12 and Great Grandmother to 22.
Alta Hansen, 96
Alta Hansen, lifelong resident of Mason City, will celebrate her 96th birthday on December 18th. She is happy, healthy, and looking forward to the future and the vaccine. Please help us celebrate Alta with a card or kind word. Greetings may be sent to her at 812 16th N.E., Mason City, Iowa 50401.
Thank you to my family and friends for all the cards and greetings you sent me on my 90th birthday.
You gave me a wonderful day of great memories.
Harlan, 50 years
Pat and Carol (Josten) Harlan of Clear Lake celebrated their 50th anniversary with a small family supper in Colorado.
They were married on November 28, 1970, at the St. Boniface Catholic Church in Garner, Iowa.
The couple call Clear Lake home and love going out on the water with friends and family. They also spend time in Venice, Florida, where they enjoy biking, playing pickle-ball and going to the beach.
The Harlan's have two children, Sean (Colleen) and Theresa. They also have two granddaughters, Alayna and Evaline.
Happy 50th Birthday Brad Hill
Please help us wish this very special guy a Happy 50th Birthday on December 11th. Cards and wishes may be sent to him at 323 Lakeview Dr., Mason City, IA 50401.
All our love to you Bradley ~ your family
How grateful we are for all the cards, calls, messages and various other ways you made our anniversary very special.
Thank you each and every one of you.
Bud and Pauline Johnson
Dorothy Kahl, 80
Dorothy Kahl of Mason City, formerly of Nora Springs, will be celebrating her 80th birthday on December 17, 2020. Join her children Robert Kahl, Daniel Kahl and Jill (Kahl) Ritch as we commemorate this milestone with a card shower. Well wishes can be sent to 501 S Tennessee Place #302, Mason City, IA 50401-4338.
Lois Goeman, 90
Lois Goeman will turn 90 on December 8th. Help us in celebrating her birthday with a card shower. Birthday wishes can be sent to Lois at: 215 Country Club Drive Apt A, Belmond, Iowa 50421.
Willert, 25 years
Looks like we made it! 25 YEARS! SO much to be THANKFUL for! Scott & Lori Willert of 4211 Tulip Lane (Bolan), Kensett, IA 50448, married November 18, 1995. Thanks to our parents Joe & Linda (Koppen) Nydegger of Bolan and Carrol (and late Ruth) Willert of Thompson. Thanks to our children Kelsie & Cole attending UNI. Thanks to our relatives, church family, and friends who shared the past 25 years with us!
We are very grateful to our children, Kelli Duren and Chris Holahan, for organizing our 50th Wedding Anniversary announcement.
Thank you to all of our family and friends for the thoughts and gifts you shared with us.
Patrick and Diana Holahan
Larsen, 50 years
Rick and Linda Larsen are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary November 28th. They were married at St. Peters Lutheran Church in Lamont, Iowa.
They have a daughter Lori Hillman (son in law Arlington), son Charles, and three grandchildren, Kyle, Jessica, and Callie. Please join them in celebrating. Cards may be sent to: 2024 Lime Kiln Road, Osage, Iowa 50461.
Butterfield, 70 years
William Roland Butterfield and Martha Jean (Baker) Butterfield, of Mason City, Iowa, were married December 1, 1950, at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa. They are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. Cards and wishes may be sent to them at 15696 Nettle Ave, Mason City, IA 50401. They have six children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Married at 17 and 19 years old, Bill and Martha’s love and precious union has been for 25,568 days. They have had the courage and the faith to walk hand in hand along the path of God’s own plan he laid out for them that amazing day, December 1, 1950. Bill and Martha have been entrepreneurs in the Mason City area for decades owning businesses, rental properties and Butterfield Farm.
Many thanks to my family and friends for all the cards, calls, and flowers I received for my birthday.
I am so grateful.
Betty Taylor, 90
Betty Taylor, formerly of Swaledale, will celebrate her 90th birthday on December 4, 2020.
Due to the pandemic, a family celebration will not be possible. Betty would be greatly blessed by a card shower from family and friends.
Cards can be sent to:
Rockwell Care Center
707 Elm St East
Rockwell, IA 50469
Happy 70th Anniversary
Kenneth and Ruth Benjegerdes - November 26, 2020
Love from your family: Steven, Karen, Marian, Barbara, and Gary
It’s happening. It just got real.
Stan is retiring.
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