Over the last several weeks farmers, homes, and businesses who use propane for heat or to dry their corn have been experiencing a shortage due to significant transportation issues. This shortage has been the product of a “perfect storm,” because of a number of factors including: a late planting season this spring, early winter weather conditions, and high demand for petroleum products throughout the Midwest.
Winter has come early to Iowa with above average snowfall being reported with some locations receiving up to 6 inches of snow by mid-November.
Colder than normal conditions have set in, especially in eastern Iowa where up to 16 degrees below average temperatures were reported. Iowa’s average temperature was 25 degrees in mid-November, 11.5 degrees below normal. These colder temperatures boosts the demand for propane to heat homes and to keep livestock safe, comfortable, and healthy.
A late planting season this past spring has resulted in a delayed harvest season. As of Nov. 18, 95% of the soybean crop in Iowa has been harvested and 77% of the corn crop has been harvested. This is well behind the 5-year average for this time of year. The delay and cold temperatures also mean the corn has been very wet with the statewide average moisture content at 20%. This means corn will have to be dried down to avoid spoilage and that fuels the need for propane to dry it.
Governor Reynolds responded quickly by signing a proclamation to temporarily suspend certain regulatory provisions pertaining to hours of service for the delivery of propane. The Governor is also working to ease weight limit requirements for trucks hauling propane within the state. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation has also given a regional waiver for service of hours requirements to several Midwest states.
The pipelines delivering propane are governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has historically been reluctant to intervene by imposing product requirements on private companies.
However, Governor Reynolds and other state officials have been in regular communication with FERC to keep them apprised of the situation in Iowa. And so last week FERC approved temporary emergency shipments of propane to help alleviate a shortage of the fuel.
Going forward other solutions, both short-term and long-term must be pursued. For now, all options to get propane where it is needed are on the table and are being pursued.
Combining local elections increased voter turnout for school board elections
In 2017, the legislature passed a bill which merged municipal, school districts, community college districts (merged) and area education agency boards into one date. Over the prior four municipal elections the voter turnout was 21.3%. During that same time, the voter turnout for the school board elections was averaged 6.5%.
Both of these turnouts are very low compared to that of general elections. That includes the Presidential race, Congressional races, statewide races, or state legislative races. In 2012 the Presidential election voter turnout was around 73% and in 2016 it was around 71%. In 2014 the voter turnout was 59% and in 2018 it was 61%.
On Nov. 5, Iowa held the first combined municipal and school board elections. Voter turnout around the state was 16.58%. This turnout was a little smaller than the previous municipal election. However, this turnout was significantly higher for local school board elections, 2 and ½ times higher. Sac County had the highest turnout in the state with nearly 38%, with Fremont County not far behind at 35%. Polk County was just short of 20%. The combined municipal and school board elections made it easier for voters around the state to have a voice in their local school board elections.
This election was also the first general election in which Voter ID was fully implemented.
Secretary of State Paul Pate spoke positively of the election, “Overall, I’m pleased with how the first city/school elections went across the state. As Iowa’s voter registration totals continue to soar, I believe turnout in these important local elections will follow that trend and Tuesday was a step in the right direction.”