Iowa Capitol this week: Picking up roadside trash to get unemployment benefits? Installing cameras in public school classrooms?

Here's a quick recap of troubling bills in the Iowa legislature. Find a Black History Month event to attend in the News Update & Events Calendar — 2/6/2022.

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Welcome to the News Update & Events Calendar. Inside you will find news briefs and a list of Black History Month events and more.

Legislative happenings you need to know about

Republican Iowa legislators are working to slash unemployment benefits and reform education. The bills they're proposing would make it a crime for educators to distribute certain books. Others would slash unemployment benefits and make it harder for Iowans to receive unemployment benefits.

"Republicans are introducing many bills that are simply outrageous. One such bill will allow cameras in every classroom. As a former high school teacher, that would be a definite breech of student and teacher confidentially," wrote State Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines in her weekly legislative newsletter. "I remember so many times while teaching that a student would abruptly share something personal that the public did not know about."

Here’s a rundown of some controversial bills:


At the behest of Gov. Kim Reynolds, legislators have attacked unemployment as a tool to deal with Iowa’s so-called worker shortage. Senate study bills, SSB 3096 and SSB 3093 would cut unemployment benefits.

Here’s part of what SSB 3096 contains:

  • A one-week waiting period would be instituted before unemployment benefits begin.
  • If an applicant has received 16 payments but is eligible to receive extended payments due to a statewide disaster declaration, the applicant shall perform at least 20 hours of civic work each week to maintain unemployment benefits eligibility — like roadside trash pickup.

Here’s part what SSB 3093 contains:

  • It reduces the unemployment benefit period from 26 weeks to 16 weeks,
  • If an employer goes out of business, unemployment benefits would be reduced from 39 weeks to 26 weeks.

Upcoming subcommittee meetings: Want to attend in person? Want to tell Iowa legislators how you feel about these bills?

  • In person: SSB 3093 – 9:30 a.m. Feb. 8 Iowa State Capitol, Room G15
  • Or watch online
  • In person: SSB 3096 – 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8. Iowa Capitol, Room 24
  • Or watch online

Here's a petition against the unemployment cuts.

Read Black Iowa News' story about unemployment here.


HF 2177: The bill proposes installing cameras in K-12 classrooms, which would allow parents to view live video feeds. The cameras wouldn’t be installed in Special Education or physical education classrooms. School employees who obstruct the cameras would be subject to written reprimand and having their pay docked.

  • In person: HF 2177 – Noon. Feb. 9. Iowa State Capitol, Room 304.

Senate President Jake Chapman, who claimed there's a “sinister agenda” afoot by the media and teachers, advanced a bill that criminalizes teachers for providing obscene material and hard-core pornography to students, among other proposals.

  • SF 2198 — Makes it a serious misdemeanor if an administrator knowingly provides obscene material or hard hard-core pornography to a student in a library.
  • SSB 3079 — A bill delineating parents’ rights, including prohibitions against obscene material in the classroom or library without express written parental permission.
  • SSB 3080 — A school choice bill touting a limited number of Student first scholarships, which involve using taxpayer funds for private schools, the creation of a flowchart at the Iowa Department of Education for the removal of library books, among other education reforms.

Are there other bills you're concerned about? Email

Des Moines

Gateway Dance Theatre — Celebrating 50 years — Presents SANAA YA SANAA: Celebrating Black History

Feb. 26

In person: 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Dupont Room, 909 Robert D. Ray Drive. Celebrate an afternoon of Black Cultural Arts. Free will donations encouraged. Opera star Simon Estes is the guest of honor. For more information, visit Gateway Dance Theatre.

  • 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Workshop
  • 1:30 p.m.-2 p.m. Refreshments
  • 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Showcase

Davenport/Moline, Illinois

The QC Black Business Expo & Health Fair

Feb. 25 & Feb. 26

In person: 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 25. MLK Interpretive Center, 501 N. Brady St., Davenport. VIP Welcome Reception. Network with sponsors, exhibitors and key business leaders from around the bi-state area.

In person: 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 26. South Park Mall, 4500 16th St., Moline, Illinois. The QC Black Business Expo & Health Fair is designed to showcase Black business owners and the entire Quad Cities community. The Quad City Empowerment Network, along with partners and participating organizations, have designed this event to spotlight quality Black businesses and the health needs of the Black community. The core goal of the health fair is to help bridge the health disparity gap in the Black community through health-related vendors and presentations that highlight the importance of health and the various services and programs in the QC community. For more information call 563-499-5701 or 563-570-5927 or email

Iowa City

University of Iowa

In person: 9 p.m. FUBU Open Mic. Friday, Feb. 18. UnImpaired Dry Bar, 125 E. Burlington St. Free. An open mic/cabaret in collaboration with the Department of Theatre and Afro House celebrating diverse artistic expression. In the tradition of NYC’s Nuyorican Poets Cafe and D.C.’s Busboys and Poets, this event will feature poetry, dance, acting, rapping and other art forms from Black artists on campus. Headliners include J.D. Kidd, Steven A Willis, Issac Addai, the cast of Isaiah Reeves’ Gwenevere, and more. There will also be slots for folks to sign up and share their art that night. This event is hosted in collaboration with the Afro-American Cultural Center and is part of the Borderless series.


Feb. 12

In person: 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 12. Free. Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, Camp Dodge, 7105 NW 70th Ave. Presents: Dr. Vince Lewis — A Life of Commitment. Come listen to this inspiring story of how an African American kid from the southeast side of Des Moines became a Vietnam veteran, top educator in the state of Iowa and a nationally recognized volunteer.


Simpson College Black History Month Lecture

Feb. 16

ZOOM: 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16. Author and Johns Hopkins University Professor of History Martha Jones will deliver the Black History Month lecture: "Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote and Insisted on Equality for All." The lecture is co-sponsored by the Simpson College Black Student Union, Culver Public Policy Center, Department of History, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Women's & Gender Studies.


Feb. 12

Zoom: 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 12. 24/7 BLAC is kicking off its monthly Economic Empowerment series with a Black Wealth Session featuring Keith Chappelle, national sales director for Primerica. Chappelle's session will begin to explore some of the following financial concepts:

  • Become familiar with money and making it work for you — potentially earn more income investing, than your 9 to 5.
  • What's "hot" and what's a "not" in the world of investing and finance?
  • The things you use . . . are the things you should invest in. But where do you begin?

Pre-registration is encouraged.

Iowa Democratic Black Caucus Meeting

ZOOM: 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6. Caucus training and guest speakers. Hosted by Al Womble, chair.

2022 Iowa Democratic Caucuses

Feb. 7

The Iowa Democratic Caucuses will be held on Feb. 7. Masks will be required, and COVID-19 vaccination is encouraged. Check your precinct and read more about the event here.

Des Moines

North Side Community Recreation Center (Grubb YMCA)

The city of Des Moines will hold two more public meetings seeking input about the North Side Community Recreation Center. The meetings will be held at the Grubb YMCA, 1611 11th St.

  • 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 17
  • 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. March 24

Des Moines City Budget Listening Posts

In person: 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15. South Side Library

The meetings, designed to solicit feedback from the public, will include a brief budget overview by Des Moines city officials and will be followed by a question-and-answer session with residents.

Day-long FY23 Budget Workshop (no public input)

In person: 8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9. Des Moines City Hall.

City: Council meetings and agendas

School: Des Moines School board meetings

  • The board meets at 5:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of most months.


  • ZOOM: Meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month.

West Des Moines

City: Council meetings and agendas

School: West Des Moines school board meetings. School board meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays at 7 p.m. Workshops before the meetings are held at 5:15 p.m.


City: Council meetings and agendas

School: Johnston school board meetings

Iowa Capitol. Photo by Black Iowa News.

Have an event for the calendar?

If you have an event to publicize, please email In the subject line of the email put: BIN Calendar. Please include the event or meeting in the following order: time, date, place and cost. You may also include photos, links and files. *If the date of a meeting or event changes after publication, please email me and I will update the listing. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me. Thank you.

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