Axios Des Moines

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πŸ₯§ Happy Thursday and Pi Day!

β›ˆοΈ Weather: Thunderstorms throughout the day with a high of 55Β°.

πŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Des Moines members Joni Wright, Judith Heggen and Michelle Delury!

Today's Smart Brevityβ„’ count is 839 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: School crimes linked to LGTBQ+ laws

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

School hate crimes targeting LGBTQ people have sharply risen in states that enacted laws restricting queer student rights and education in recent years, according to a Washington Post analysis of FBI data.

Why it matters: Policy sets the tone for real-world experiences and can create hostile environments, the Post reports.

Catch up fast: GOP lawmakers nationwide and in Iowa filed a record number of bills targeting the LGBTQ community over the last three years.

  • Longtime fears about gay people, concerns about parents rights and multimillion-dollar lobbying fueled by conservative groups were among the contributing factors.

By the numbers: On average, states that enacted laws restricting LGBTQ rights had four times more hate crimes per year in elementary, middle and high schools between 2021-2022 compared with 2015-2019, per the Post.

  • There was an average of 232 anti-LGBTQ hate crimes at colleges and K-12 schools in 2021 and 2022, more than twice the number reported between 2015 and 2019.

Behind the scenes: Groups that help LGBTQ youth in crisis are also reporting an increase in calls for assistance, the Post reports.

  • There were more than 1,400 reports of bullying in Iowa's public schools during the most recently completed school year β€” up more than 200 compared with the 2021-2022 year, according to state data.

The latest: Almost all the bills restricting LGBTQ rights this year are expected to die during a legislative deadline this week, Reyes says.

  • Around 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced nationally this year and Iowa has 34, among the most out of all states, according to a report by the ACLU.

Yes, but: A "religious freedom" bill could soon be signed by the governor.

  • Critics say it would give legal cover to discriminate, especially against minority religions and LGBTQ people, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports.

The other side: The "statistical rise in ugly behavior" is the basic math of more students identifying as LGBTQ and more people arguing about related issues, the Family Leader, an Iowa Evangelical organization, tells Axios.

  • The group says it condemns incivility from both sides.

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2. Expanding crosswalk protections

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A crosswalk loophole in Iowa law excludes drivers who hit people using bicycles, strollers or even wheelchairs from facing the same consequences as those who injure pedestrians who are walking.

Why it matters: A small change in Iowa code (HF2568) could better protect all people crossing roads, according to a policy brief by the University of Iowa.

State of play: Iowa's crosswalk laws require drivers to yield for pedestrians and imposes criminal charges if they injure or kill someone.

  • But pedestrian is defined as people who are "afoot," according to Cara Hamann, an injury epidemiologist at UI.
  • The bill would extend crosswalk protections to all vulnerable road users, including to people using e-bikes, scooters and skateboards.

Zoom in: Between 2018-23, crashes between cars and vulnerable road users occurred in 19 Iowa cities, including Ankeny, Des Moines, Waukee and West Des Moines.

  • Out of those in the Des Moines metro, Ankeny is the only one with a city code that also protects cyclists in crosswalks, according to the UI report.

The big picture: Minnesota, Nebraska and Illinois already have similar crosswalk laws.

What's next: The bill is eligible for full Senate debate.

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3. 🦻 Mapped: Hearing loss

Hearing loss prevalence
Data: SoundCheck; Map: Alice Feng/Axios Visuals

Almost 10% of Polk County residents experience at least mild hearing loss, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng report.

  • That's nearly 47,600 people, according to a recent study seeking to estimate the condition's prevalence.

The intrigue: Hearing loss is more common in rural areas, per the study.

  • It's unclear why, but age and exposure to factory or farming equipment could contribute.

Zoom in: Johnson and Story counties had fewer than 8% of residents with hearing loss, the lowest estimated rates in the state. Both places are college towns.

  • Audubon and Dickinson counties had estimates of just over 20%, the highest rates.

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4. The Ear: Shuck of the Iowish

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

πŸ“± All four of Iowa's U.S. House members voted to ban TikTok from app stores. (Des Moines Register)

🀝 Local nonprofits are raising money to help the Latino community in Perry, following Tyson's announcement that it is closing the town's pork plant. (KCCI)

🐒 Findings from ISU researchers studying turtles may also be able to help people suffering a stroke or heart attack. (WOI-TV)

πŸ₯ Oak Street Health moved into the former CVS Pharmacy off Euclid Avenue. (Business Record)

πŸƒ The Iowa House passed a bill restricting consumable hemp products to 4mg per serving or 10mg per container. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

πŸŽ™ A WHO Radio morning show hosted by Maxwell Schaeffer and Amy Sweet was canceled. The duo took over for Van Harden and Bonnie Lucas in 2021. (Iowa Podcast)

☘️ Today's headline maker: Laura Knispel of Grimes.

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5. Where's Jason?

Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Hit reply and correctly guess Jason's location and we'll add you to a drawing for a free Axios shirt!

  • Check back tomorrow for the answer and a story about this spot.

πŸ“‰ Americans weren't that worried about COVID-19 this last winter, according to our latest Axios-Ipsos American Health Index.

This newsletter was copy edited by Lucia Maher.