Top Democrats in the legislature now say there may be no need for a special legislative session to react to the state’s recent spate of storms and flooding. Leaders of both political parties met with state and federal disaster officials Thursday for a briefing on damages.
While they’re still no where near coming up with a final total on damages, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says the state may not have a large role to play. "Ten days ago, I think people would have pretty broadly said, ‘Yea, we pretty much have to have a special session,’" Gronstal says. "I don’t know that everybody feels that way today. I was in Iowa City, Coralville and Cedar Rapids (on Wednesday) and we did not hear clamoring from local officials for us to come in and suspend some laws."
Gronstal says if the federal government grants 100 percent reimbursement for cleanup and temporary housing, the state may not need to spend emergency funds to help flooded communities.
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says FEMA officials have agreed that any temporary trailers they set up in Iowa for storm victims will meet state health standards. "The discussion came up about formaldehyde in the trailers that were present in (Hurricane) Katrina down in Louisiana. They allowed the state of Iowa to set the standards…and we have a very high standard for what they have to meet in order to bring trailers into this state," Murphy says.
FEMA trailers sent to house displaced Gulf Coast residents after Hurricane Katrina swept their homes away were found to have unacceptable levels of formaldehyde. Murphy says FEMA promised any trailers brought into Iowa would meet the same formaldehyde standard for new cars. The FEMA trailers would be used for no more than 18 months, according to Murphy.