Nick Fetty | February 19, 2015
More than 250 people attended the annual Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day at the state capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday.
Thirty-three different conservation groups set up station’s in the statehouse’s rotunda to appeal to legislators and other attendees. Groups in attendance included Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Iowa Conservation Education Coalition, the State Hygienic Lab, and others.
The event also included speeches from state senators Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville) and David Johnson (R-Ocheyedan), Iowa Natural Resources Commission chair Margo Underwood, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation president emeritus Mark Ackelson, and Iowa Environmental Council executive director Ralph Rosenberg.
REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) funding was one issue discussed at Tuesday’s event. Sixteen million dollars was appropriated to REAP for the current fiscal year with an additional $500,000 coming from natural resources license plate sales and gaming revenues. The money will be distributed to several state departments including Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Cultural Affairs, Natural Resources, Transportation and the State Historical Society. This funding will cover a variety of projects from city and state parks to soil and water enhancement.
While environmental issues were the main focus of the event, public health matters were also addressed. Chris Squires – a University of Iowa professor representing the American Cancer Society – advocated for legislation to prevent anyone under the age of 17 from using tanning beds while Eileen Fisher from Rural Cedar Township pushed for a smoking ban in Iowa casinos.