Employment in U.S.: The U. S. Labor Department statistics for January, 2020, show a similar phenomenon to what happened in Iowa. The number of both employed and unemployed people rose slightly. There were 225,000 new jobs created, well above the 158,000 that the “experts” had predicted. Compared to last year, average hourly wages grew by 3.1 percent. Wages have grown by at least 3 percent for the last 18 months in a row. The unemployment rate went up .1 percent points to 3.6 percent. The labor participation rate went up .2 percent, to 63.4 percent, as new people entered the labor force beyond the normal growth in population. This 63.4 percent is the percentage of working age people who are employed, or looking for work. Hopefully as the economy continues to improve, more able-bodied people who had chosen not to work, will come back into the labor force. 

Governor’s Appointments: A job that only the Senate has, is the confirmation of the Governor’s appointments. Confirmation requires a 2/3 vote, or 34 Senators. Since there are 32 Republican Senators and 18 Democrat Senators, if all Republicans vote for confirmation, (that does not always happen) at least two Democrats must vote to confirm. Each appointment is referred to a Senate subcommittee made up of two Republicans and one Democrat, for consideration just as bills are referred. The subcommittee considers each appointment and makes a recommendation to its full committee. The committee then considers each appointment and if the appointee is approved, the full senate then votes on it. The vast majority of appointees have been approved since I have been in the Senate, and I would expect that to be the case this year. I have personally been involved on subcommittees considering two appointments to the Parole Board, the appointment of the Director of the Board of Corrections, a member of the state Judicial Nominating Commission and the Executive Director of the Civil Rights Commission.  

Donating First Responder Equipment: I have introduced a bill that seems to me to be the kind of money saving idea that we should be looking for, though in the grand scheme of things it might not seem to be a big priority. The bill would allow a fire department, emergency medical services provider, or law enforcement agency to be immune from civil liability, if they “donate used vehicles or equipment to an organization that provides fire response or emergency medical services, or to a law enforcement agency.” 

An example of how this would work is fire fighting equipment that is being replaced after being used for say, 20 years, because of concerns about maintenance costs. The fire department that owns the equipment might be willing to donate it to a small town or volunteer fire department that cannot afford expensive new equipment. However, the fire department might be reluctant to donate it for fear that if it does not perform properly, they might be sued, so they might junk the equipment instead. Rather than junking the equipment, the objective of the bill is to encourage the fire department to donate the equipment. Of course, no one would be required either to donate equipment, or accept it. Everything would be voluntary.