By Representative Dean Fisher

On April 3, many of us legislators visited Kemin Industries, a world-wide food ingredients manufacturer that is headquartered just a short distance from the capitol building. They employ 2,500 worldwide, including 700 in Iowa. Kemin Industries is a remarkable company, in that they are near their goal of “touching” nearly half of the world’s population with their products every single day. This statistic is calculated by tracking the uses of their ingredients in food products for both humans and animals. They specialize in producing food additive ingredients from natural plants, not chemically.
One of their most successful product lines is Lutein, which is derived from Marigolds grown in India and then processed in Des Moines. Lutein is what makes carrots orange, egg yolks yellow, and is essential for eye health. Lutein is also used as an additive for chicken feed, to ensure a yellow skin, and as a dietary supplement for humans. Kemin Industries produces many other mineral supplements, flavor enhancers, mold inhibitors, and antioxidants for human and animal consumption. I am frequently astounded at the breadth and depth of technology that Iowa offers the world in our corporations and universities.
Last week, we debated Senate File 471, the Late Term Abortion Ban bill which bans abortions after the baby is past five months post-fertilization with exceptions for the life and health of the mother. The House has amended this senate bill to include additional requirements including adding a 72 hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed and strengthening requirements for showing an ultrasound of the baby to the mother before the abortion is performed. This amendment requires the bill to return to the Senate for approval. With the passage of this bill, Iowa will join 23 other states that prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. This bill is the most substantial pro-life legislation to protect the life of the unborn in Iowa history.
Budget targets have been set for the various departments. For fiscal year 2018, we will be spending $7.245 billion against the Revenue Estimating Conference committee’s revenue estimate of $7.364 billion. It is rare to see the state spend less than the year before. This fact reflects the difficulties we are experiencing with revenue growth and the revenue estimate accuracy. While a 1.7% reduction in spending against the revenue estimate is a good start, I don’t feel it leaves us with enough of a buffer against inaccuracies in the revenue estimate. I’d rather see a 3% buffer, given the fact that in the past four years we’ve seen actual revenue come in below the estimate by 1.5% to 3.5%.
The House has passed Senate File 230, a bill that moves the legislature’s health care plan options into the executive branch category, ultimately requiring legislators to pay a higher share of the premiums. The legislature will now pay the same premium as full time executive branch employees. The change will save the state roughly $235,000 per year, another win for Iowa’s taxpayers.
As always, please feel free to contact me at dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov or 641-750-3594.