Capitol Notebook: Gov. Kim Reynolds Reappoints Rejected State Board Member | Local News

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DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds reappointed to the Jobs Public Relations Board a former Republican state lawmaker who served on the board without Senate confirmation.

Reynolds this week named Erik Helland, a former Johnston state legislator, to the board. It was among dozens of appointments to myriad state boards.

The board’s charge, according to its mission statement, is to act neutrally to “promote harmonious and cooperative relations between the government and its employees without disrupting public services.”

Reynolds previously nominated Helland — both Republicans — to the board, but his nomination was not confirmed this year by the Iowa Senate. In the meantime, Helland served as chairman of the board and earned a salary of $97,460, according to state records.

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Confirmation of gubernatorial nominations requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate, and based on procedural votes anticipated in the 2022 legislative session, it appeared that Helland would not get enough votes from Democrats to get the approval of the Republican-majority Senate.

“I have issues with his management style, his philosophy of leadership,” Sen. Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, said during a committee hearing on the nomination in April. “And I have issues with the way the governor has handled this department.”

At the time, Taylor expressed concern that Helland was receiving a higher salary on the board than the member he replaced, who was a woman and a Democrat. Taylor also cited the board not being politically balanced as required by state law; the three-member board currently has only two members, Helland and Jane Dufoe, both Republicans.

With Reynolds nominating Helland to the board again, his nomination will again be presented to the Senate in 2023.

ANTI-TRAFFIC AWARENESS: Three state agencies are highlighting their programs designed to combat human trafficking ahead of Saturday, which is World Anti-Human Trafficking Day.

The Secretary of State’s office has adopted a program that encourages businesses to educate their employees and customers about human trafficking. The Transportation Department participates in outreach programs that educate drivers on how to identify signs of human trafficking. And the Public Security Department, which has a dedicated anti-trafficking bureau, offers free online training.

“We share the common goal of combating human trafficking in Iowa,” said Sgt. Joe Nickell of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Unit said in a news release. “Raising awareness of the problem and helping people recognize the signs of human trafficking can make a big difference in stopping it.

The Secretary of State’s Business Program can be viewed at ibat.iowa.gov. The Public Safety Department’s anti-human trafficking work, including free online training, can be viewed at stophtiowa.org. The Department of Transportation’s “Recognize and Report” initiative is available at recognizeandreport.org.

IOWA DOT PROJECTS: Three state Department of Transportation projects were recognized with an America’s Transportation Award at the annual meeting of the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials, held in Des Moines, the department said.

Projects were chosen from 18 submissions in a 10-state region. State projects honored were a dual and divided highway at Council Bluffs; the Memorial Bridge project in the Quad Cities; and an emergency dividable load management project in several states, including Iowa.

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