By Representative Dean Fisher
As work progresses in committees we have begun to debate a few bills on the floor of the House as well. These are generally non-controversial bills that pass unanimously or with only a few no votes. These bills have included increases in mileage reimbursement for witnesses traveling to testify in court, banning certain pyramid sales schemes, clarifying dependent adult abuse code, Medicaid oversight, and many other topics.
When House Republicans came into the majority in 2011 the state budget was a disaster. The state faced a structural deficit of a billion dollars, was using one time funds for ongoing needs, and the state’s reserve accounts had been raided without plans to refill them. This poor management resulted in across the board cuts of 10% in 2009.
Since House Republicans have been in the majority, we have brought common sense budgeting back to the state. We invest in our state’s priorities when we can, and we manage the budget carefully when revenue estimates don’t come in as anticipated.
This past week, House Republicans released budget targets for the Fiscal Year 20 budget that begins July 1, 2019. This plan spends $7.668 billion, 97.45% of the on-going revenue estimate. This is $9.5 million higher than Governor Reynolds proposal, and .63% higher than the adjusted Fiscal Year 2019 budget, roughly $48 million. This budget leaves our reserve accounts full and an ending balance of $298.6 million. I continue to press for spending as low as 95% of the on-going revenue, this budget makes progress towards that goal.
Our K-12 schools have already gotten “the first bite of the apple” with funding increases of nearly $90 million for Supplemental State Aid, including $19 million for transportation equity. Those appropriation bills were signed into law in a public ceremony by Governor Reynolds on Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda. This budget will also give the Justice systems (courts, prisons, State Patrol) an additional $18 million, and our higher education system will receive an additional $48 million. Investing in our higher education system is critical to our efforts to increase the number of skilled workers entering the workforce.
Work continues on the legislation to reform our judicial nominating process, HSB 110. An amendment was agreed to this week that will let stand the current process of electing eight commission members by the lawyers in our judicial districts, but retain the reforms for the appellate and supreme court commission. I support HSB 110 for the simple reason that our federal and state constitutions both start with three simple words – “We the People”. They don’t start with “We the Lawyers”. HSB 110 brings the selection of our Appellate and Supreme Court nominating commissioners into the hands of elected officials that are accountable to “We the People” instead of a small group of unaccountable lawyers.
House Study Bill 114 is a bill that increases penalties for animal cruelty offenses. This is a much needed improvement to Iowa’s laws. I’ve gotten many emails from constituents in support of this bill. The Judiciary committee has agreed to amend the language from one of my bills, House File 176, to make it illegal to remove a collar from a dog that carries a rabies tag or electronic tracking collar (GPS). Iowa law allows for any dog over 6 months old without a rabies tag to be destroyed. This law closes a loop hole where a person could remove the collar from a dog that carries its rabies tag and then destroy the dog. Also, there have been many incidents in Iowa where persons have removed the tracking collars from hunting dogs that have strayed, defeating the hunter’s ability to quickly retrieve their dog, which is allowed under Iowa law. I’m glad to have been able to get this common sense change attached to this bill.
As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 641-750-3594.