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January 2021

MONDAY’S COUNCIL AGENDA: CLEAN ENERGY RESOLUTION I intend to support the Clean Energy Resolution scheduled for the Monday, Jan. 11, City Council agenda.

It is similar to the original resolution drafted by Ward 3 Council-member Josh Mandelbaum, presented on Oct. 19.

Significant differences from the October draft:

•pushing the 100% 24/7 clean electrical energy goal out to 2035. I would prefer to stick to a 2030 goal, but I will accept a 2035 compromise to pass the resolution.

•Acknowledgement that energy inaction perpetuates inequality on marginalized and vulnerable residents.

•Additions to the resolution from Jeremy Caron, the City’s sustainability program manager, regarding energy storage and microgrid goals.

•Additions regarding geothermal, carbon sequestration, and other technology advancements.

•Support transportation advancements to reduce vehicle admissions, including the promotion of electric vehicles, and pedestrian- and bicycle-orientated streets.


Another critical resolution on tap Monday proposes a fund of up to $300,000 to assist Des Moines-based restaurants and bars with COVID-19 relief for delivery/takeout supplies. The resolution—if passed—proposes funding via the City’s Economic Development Division Enterprise Fund.

You may have read that the Iowa Restaurant Association estimates that Iowa will lose up to 60% of its restaurants to the COVID-19. “The intent of the program is to preserve the unique taste, flavor, and creativity of Des Moines’ restaurants,” as written in the resolution.

Gotta do something to help stop the bleeding. City Hall staff and council members are still fussing with exact language, including reimbursement of fees for third-party delivery services.

As proposed, the City will distribute reimbursement checks to Des Moines restaurants on a first-come, first-served basis. Current language limits reimbursement to two Des Moines restaurants or bars owned by an individual, parent company, or management company.


Just so you know…

…I’ve added my name in support of an Iowa bill legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana. As announced Wednesday, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division would control marijuana usage.

A handful of Iowa legislators have reached out to county and municipal elected officials for support. Highlights of the draft legislation follow. More than 30 county supervisors and municipal mayors, and council-members have signed on to support.

People in the know think Iowa is probably 5 to 10 years away from legalizing marijuana, given the challenges of even getting approval of sensible THC for medicinal use. (Iowa law is one of the nation’s most restrictive.)

It’s a steep hill, but we gotta start somewhere.

Connie Boesen, Josh Mandelbaum, Bill Gray, and I have signed on to support the legislation. From Polk County, Supervisors Angela Connolly and Matt McCoy also support the statewide legislation. Also representing Des Moines at the Iowa Legislature: Representatives Marti Anderson, Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, Brian Meyer, Jo Oldson, and Senator Janet Petersen.

In the meantime:

•Each year, about 5,000 Iowans are found guilty of marijuana possession (criminal charge), often 5 grams or less. The criminal charge is absolutely devastating to future employment.

•There’s a massive disparity of charges booked against Blacks/POC. (In Iowa, a Black person is 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.)

•Two Iowa neighbors—Illinois and South Dakota—have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Eleven states have already legalized small amounts of marijuana. I think we’ll have a national law eventually—perhaps in our lifetime.

•One of my concerns is how marijuana impairs driving. As of today, there is no known reliable impairment testing (similar to OWI and alcohol).

I like the way Bill Gray simplifies the conversation:

Legalize it

Regulate it.

Tax it.

Seems like the right thing to do.

And for the record, I’ve never even sampled a tobacco product or weed.


• Establishes a system for the regulation of marijuana growing, manufacture, and retail sales for adult use—age 21 and over—administered by the Alcoholic Beverages Division.

• Limits on the amount of marijuana that can be purchased and possessed at any given time

§ 30 grams of cannabis flower (about two handfuls), 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and 500 mg of THC in cannabis-infused products.

• Local governments may enact ordinances or regulations governing the time, place, and manner of retail sales or may prohibit retail sales.

• Cannot use marijuana while driving or have ready access to it in a vehicle. Penalties are comparable to OWI.

• Cannot drive while under the influence of marijuana

• Cannot discriminate against persons who engage in adult use of cannabis as authorized by the legislation. This applies to employers, businesses, housing assistance, custody and parenting time issues, and occupational and drivers’ licenses, among others.

• Reduces the penalties for marijuana-related criminal offenses.

• Expunges certain marijuana-related convictions.

• Establishes an Office of Social Equity in the Iowa Economic Development Authority to deliver messages similar to the gaming industry (“Play with your head”).

• Imposes a 20% excise tax equal for each sale of cannabis and cannabis products to a consumer. Medical cannabis is exempt from this tax.

• Local governments may collect a cannabis local option tax of three percent of the sales in the municipality.

• Revenues generated in excess of the amount necessary to implement and enforce the adult-use cannabis law shall be distributed as follows:

§ 60% to the state General Fund.

§ 15% to the Community Reinvestment Fund

§ 10% to the Social Equity Fund

§ 15% allocated to various state funds including Cannabis Education and Technical Assistance Fund, Department of Public Health, and Department of Public Safety programs including drug education and prevention.

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