Opinion

Annual Sales Tax Holiday Weekend of Aug. 3-4

This year?s annual sales tax holiday is the first weekend in August, which is Friday, August 3, and Saturday, August 4th. The holiday does not include Sunday. No sales tax (including local taxes) is collected on sales of any clothing or footwear that has a sales price of less than $100. The holiday applies to each article that is priced at less than $100, no matter how many items are sold to any customer. The holiday does not apply to any item that is sold for $100 or more.


Any business that is open during the sales tax holiday will participate. Businesses do not have to do any special reporting because there is a line for the Sales Tax Holiday included on the regular sales tax form for sales during the holiday.


The sales tax holiday does not apply to watches, jewelry, sporting equipment, handbags, or wallets. Store coupons and discounts can reduce the sales price below $100 to qualify for the Sales Tax Holiday, but manufacturer coupons cannot. If items are usually sold as a unit, those items cannot be split up so that each piece qualifies for the $100 requirement.


 


Childhood health campaign expanding


In partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the United Way of Central Iowa, and the Healthiest State Initiative, the ?5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count? program created last fall will be expanding across the state.


The 5-2-1-0 program is a national initiative created to prevent childhood obesity. This program highlights these simple daily habits that could have a big impact on reducing the rate of childhood obesity:


? 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables;


? 2 hours or less of screen time (television, computer, video games, phones, etc.);


? 1 hour or more of physical activity; and


? 0 (or reduce) sugar-sweetened beverages.


Manning, Mason City, Clinton, Mount Ayr, and Keosauqua have been added to the current four 5-2-1-0 communities (Malvern, Dubuque, Mt. Pleasant, and West Union). Warren County has also joined as the only county-wide project. Each of these communities will receive a grant of $22,000 to work toward increasing physical activity and healthy eating habits for children from birth to 18 years of age.


 


?Move over law? applies to all vehicles


Drivers traveling on Iowa?s roads will have to pay more attention to cars and other vehicles parked on the side of the road, or risk being fined.


Starting July 1, all drivers must move over or at least slow down for all vehicles with flashing emergency lights. This past session saw the state?s ?Move Over? expanded to include a stationary construction vehicle and allows a stationary construction vehicle to display flashing amber lights. The law also now extends to any stationary motor vehicle that is continuously displays its emergency signal lamps flashing simultaneously.


The previous law only required a driver approaching an authorized emergency vehicle, utility vehicle, municipal maintenance vehicle, towing or recovery vehicle, highway maintenance vehicle, stationary solid waste or recycling vehicle, that are displaying flashing yellow to use due caution when approaching or make a lane change if possible.


 


Stop the Spread of the Emerald Ash Borer


With the increase of Emerald Ash Borer (EMB), Iowans are reminded to take precautions to prevent the spreading by limiting the transport of firewood across counties.


Sixty-one of Iowa?s 99 counties have confirmed cases of EMB. One way to prevent the spread of EMB is to not transport firewood from county to county or from other states. There are counties in Iowa that have not been infested with EAB. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends to only obtain firewood in the county where it will be burned. Most state parks and campgrounds have firewood for sale to use within the park.


EAB is an invasive wood-boring beetle that kills ash trees. The beetle is native to East Asia and came to the U.S. through trees from the region. EAB was first discovered in Iowa in 2010 along the Mississippi River and has since moved westward.


If you believe you have an infested ash tree on your property the DNR does not recommend using imidacloprid drenching for the treatment of EAB. Visit http://www.iowatreepests.com/eab_resources.html for the recommended steps of removing EAB.


 


Anniversary of Americans with Disability Act


Later this week, the 28th Anniversary of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will take place. President George H.W. Bush signed this Act into law on July 26, 1990 to give protections to individuals with disabilities.


Iowa?s former U.S. Senator, Tom Harkin is accredited with co-authoring the legislation. He worked in a bi-partisan effort to move the legislation through the U.S. Senate and to the President?s desk.


The ADA and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) gave civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA and ADAAA also assure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities for access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications.


 


New Early Childhood Learning Standards Released


There are approximately 2,000 days from when a child is born until they enter kindergarten, and nearly 90% of a child?s brain growth occurs in those days. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, during this time quality early experiences can set the stage for a strong foundation for a child.


Iowa early childhood leaders have released revised statewide standards for this window of opportunity of the development and learning of children birth through age five. The revised Iowa Early Learning Standards, were written through a partnership of stakeholders who make up Iowa?s Early Childhood Iowa program, including the Iowa Department of Education (DE).


The early learning standards have always contained content about approaches to learning, and describe the typical behavior, knowledge and skills in children from birth through age five that set the stage for success in school. The standards, first released in 2006 in response to federal standards, have continued to be revised, with the last revision being in 2012.


DE claims that the new version aims to be more useful to parents, families, and other caregivers who play a key role in a child?s development and instruction. Probably the most significant change is breaking out science and math separately and encouraging greater exploration of math and science.


 


? Phil Miller serves District 82 in the Iowa House of Representatives. The district includes all of Davis and Van Buren counties, and most of Jefferson County. He can be reached at 641-472-2511, or at phil.miller@legis.iowa.gov.