- Associated Press - Monday, February 13, 2017

Des Moines Register. February 7, 2017

No eyelash left behind in IowaThere may be nothing better protected by Iowa law than hair. Yes, hair.

State statute prohibits anyone without thousands of hours of training and a state license from curling, arranging, straightening, shampooing, perming, cutting or performing “similar works” on hair. Wigs and hairpieces are also protected from the untrained worker. The law requires extensive education and state permission to remove “superfluous hair” from the face or body using tools that include wax, sugars and tweezers.

And no unlicensed hand is going to apply fake eyelashes to a customer, either.

Never mind that anyone can go to a drug store, purchase eyelash extensions in the cosmetics aisle and put them on. Instructions are included. But if you want to open a little shop or mall kiosk that offers only, um, eyelash services, prepare to spend months training at a for-profit school and securing a license from the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences housed in the Iowa Department of Public Health.



Such ridiculous requirements in state law beget ridiculous proposed amendments to state law. And now we have Senate File 106. Sen. Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, introduced the bill after a woman contacted her about opening an eyelash extension business and said she would have to undergo training “completely unrelated to her business” to do so.

The bill would allow this woman, and perhaps others interested in such a business, an alternative to obtaining a full-fledged license. Instead, they could seek less onerous certification from the cosmetology board to partake in the practice of “applying, removing, or trimming natural or synthetic fibers from the eyelash or eyelashes of a person.”

While Petersen is trying to do the right thing, such measures only further muck up a section of Iowa Code that should be completely revisited. Why not draft a bill striking all references to “eyelashes” in the statute? It took a lawsuit against the state last year to get African-style hair braiders exempted from cosmetology licensing law. Perhaps eyelash workers will mount a legal challenge, too.

Also, Senate File 106 requires individuals applying eyelashes to have completed high school. Why? And applicants for certification must complete an “eyelash extension application course approved by the board.” Exactly what course will the state require Iowans to attend?

Perhaps one of the many offered online by entities with names including Minkys, NaturalLash, DreamLash or LashOut! The website for Lavish Lashes was offering a one-day basic certification - whatever that is - for $695 last week. The two-day training was also “on sale” for $1,295.

About 20,000 Iowa workers, nearly 4,000 salons and 30 barber and cosmetology schools are already under the thumb of a state cosmetology board comprised largely of members who work in the beauty industry. They have the power to grant and strip licenses to work from cosmetologists, manicurists and many others.

Now this board of private-sector industry workers is supposed to devise, enact and enforce a certification process for Iowans who only want to touch eyelashes.

Here’s a better idea this editorial board has repeatedly suggested: Iowa lawmakers should comprehensively revisit Iowa’s ludicrous job licensing laws that frequently do nothing but make it harder to enter a profession or open a business. And they can start with the Code sections that treat every lock of hair like a sacred gem.

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Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. February 10, 2017

Nook well poised to lead UNI

“Town and gown” once reflected a disconnect between the local citizenry and the institution of higher learning located in its midst. Each seemingly resided in its own orbit with little regard to reciprocity.

Any remnants of that type of relationship between the Cedar Valley and the University of Northern Iowa began eroding during the Farm Crisis of the 1980s when local leaders and UNI administrators made a commitment to exploring mutually beneficial initiatives.

From Constantine Curris to Bob Koob to Ben Allen and Bill Ruud, UNI presidents have made contributions to the region a priority - personally and, by extension, the university. In our editorial board meeting this week with Mark Nook, who became UNI’s 11th president Feb. 11 - it was reassuring that dedication to community will continue to be a priority.

Not that it was much in doubt. Even prior to his first official day on the job Feb. 1, “community” had been a common theme with Nook, an Iowa native from Holstein who recently served as chancellor at Montana State University-Billings for three years.

Nook earned his bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from Southwest Minnesota State University, a master’s degree from Iowa State and a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin.

As an astrophysicist, he certainly gets the big picture. While at St. Cloud (Minn.) State University, he also got a down-to-Earth perspective about “gown” engaging “town” as director of the observatory and planetarium.

“I think I learned pretty early on … how important it is to engage the community into the university and take the university out into the community, because our impact is too big or too important,” Nook said.

UNI makes its presence felt in one way through its College of Education, producing teachers making their mark in all 99 counties. Nook also is cognizant of UNI’s “huge economic footprint” in other areas as well.

“If you think of us as a regional comprehensive university, you’ve got to say the region is at least as big as the borders of our state, and probably stretches beyond that significantly, so we have an impact,” he added. “I need to be engaged with those leaders outside the university to keep that going and to help understand how we can be a positive influence on the state and our region.”

UNI has become a regional cultural mecca, through the wide variety of entertainment performing at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center and the college’s widely praised music and theater programs.

Nook also stated UNI’s successful intercollegiate programs have enhanced its “brand.”

Yet, as UNI has discovered, that heightened brand recognition and high rankings from various college rating services haven’t reversed declining enrollment. To a great extent, the deck has been stacked against it.

Budget cuts and administrative turmoil on campus in 2012 led to projected enrollment dropping by 1,000 the following year. The Board of Regents also pressed the University of Iowa and Iowa State University to boost in-state students, although out-of-staters paid higher tuition. Their aggressive advertising and recruitment campaigns led to record enrollments at both schools amid a shrinking pool of Iowa high school graduates, which has been UNI’s bread and butter.

And no sooner was Nook on the job than the state Legislature cut the regents universities’ allotments for the fiscal year by $18 million, including $2 million at UNI, following a budget shortfall.

But Nook has had to confront budget and enrollment issues before.

He inherited a $900,000 budget deficit upon becoming chancellor at Montana State University-Billings. Last year he began a two-year effort to carve $4.4 million from what had been the school’s $43.3 million annual budget due to declining enrollment. The budget cuts included layoffs, the loss of theater and drafting programs, and the demise of both men and women’s tennis teams.

According to the Billings Gazette, enrollment at MSUB had steadily dropped from a peak of 5,335 students - more than 4,500 in 2011 - to 3,587. Nook instituted successful recruitment and retention efforts, which earned the school a “performance funding” bonus.

While aiming to boost student numbers at UNI, one of his goals is to improve retention rates for underrepresented students, which have lagged general retention rates.

Challenges don’t daunt him.

“As one person pointed out, ‘You’re not a glass half-full kind of guy. You always see it as at least three-quarters.’ So, what I like to do is take this and use an open mind; what are the things that are out there that are going to be challenges, and we’ve just got to find the solutions,” Nook said.

Nook conveys the confidence he’ll find the necessary answers at UNI, and he will be instrumental in doing so on issues that confront the Cedar Valley as well.

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Sioux City Journal. February 10, 2017

Local control of traffic cameras works best

We recall few local issues that have produced as much emotion and discussion as traffic cameras.

To be honest, we don’t get it. If you follow the posted speed signs and stop for red lights, you won’t have a problem with speed and red-light cameras.

Nonetheless, here we are, still debating and arguing (and writing) about them, from Des Moines to Sioux City, years after they first went into use, with no sign of letup.

First three paragraphs of Our Opinion, Sioux City Journal, Feb. 23, 2014

Three years after we wrote those words, the traffic camera debate in Iowa rages on.

Two related bills have been introduced during this year’s session of the Legislature.

One bill, passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would ban traffic cameras in Iowa; the other, passed by the Senate Transportation Committee, addresses regulation of traffic cameras by the state.

Our view?

As we have said before, for reasons of public safety we prefer traffic cameras remain legal within a uniform set of reasonable rules, including fines.

If a majority of lawmakers in both chambers of the Statehouse believe traffic cameras represent pure evil, then they should vote to outlaw them altogether. However, if the Legislature believes these cameras represent an acceptable form of traffic enforcement in Iowa cities and decides to retain them, then we believe decisions about where to place them should be left to local municipalities, even on state roads within city limits.

Simply put, local jurisdictions know better than the state Department of Transportation where to put their speed and red-light cameras.

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Burlington Hawk Eye. February 9, 2017

A miserly increase

In his first major issue as a state senator, Tom Greene whiffed.

The Burlington Republican - a former school board member - failed to participate in a school funding bill, which has become law with a measly 1.11 percent increase.

He neither debated nor voted.

School superintendents from Keokuk to Sioux City complained the action will result in layoffs and larger classroom sizes. Pro-education officials were pressing for at least a 4 percent increase, saying it was necessary simply to remain in place. Early literacy initiatives and local efforts to boost student achievement will have to wait. Further backsliding is probable.

Four percent seemed generous, but for the past half dozen years, the Legislature has adopted a Scrooge-like mentality for public education. Where 30 years ago, Iowa ranked in the top 10 in education spending and had student performance scores to match, it has dropped into the bottom half of states.

Gov. Terry Branstad, who two years ago scuttled a compromise plan to add one-time spending to boost per-student spending, signed the spending bill into law even though he advocated adding $78 million more on K-12 education - nearly twice as much as Republicans put into the bill.

Greene had the opportunity to share his expertise as a Burlington School Board member and local struggles with math and literacy scores with his fellow Republicans, who control both chambers, but he chose not to. Not only did Green fail to participate in the debate, he was the only Republian absent when the vote was taken. Greene told The Hawk Eye protracted Democratic discssion and an unspecified family matter were to blame. He later acknowledged he would have voted with his colleagues for 1.11 percent allowable growth.

“We didn’t have much choice this year,” Greene told reporter Elizabeth Meyer. “I certainly would like to pass out more money but the primary thing we wanted to do was get it to the superintendents early in the process. That was a huge point when I was on the Burlington School Board. Every year, the supplemental school aid was not set until April and school boards have to certify their budget much earlier than that …. Although it was low, it was only 1.11, every superintendent I talked to said just get us the number early so we can plan and face our reality as soon as possible. So that’s what we did.”

It’s unpersuasive. Budgets are about priorities and clearly, Republicans do not value education as they once did.

Two things are going on here.

For one, as long as Republicans pass minuscule education measures year after year after year, it forces Democrats to seek larger and larger allowances to make up for lost ground. During campaigns, GOP candidates can use “real facts” and say the opposition party wants unrealistic increases - a win for them.

The other is Republicans don’t care.

During an appearance last week on “Iowa Press,” House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, suggested local school districts will be able to make up the gap between state funding and their needs by a streamlining effort to make reports filed with the state Departments of Education resemble federal paperwork.

It demonstrates how out of touch her party is. Paperwork? Really?

Greene, while new to the Legislature, has the background to present a convincing case why Upmeyer was wrong. He chose not to.

He ran saying he’d be a voice independent of his party. Given a stellar chance to do so, he didn’t.

___

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