By Representative Dean Fisher

Week 11 Continued with floor debate on bills sent over from the Senate. Notable Bills:
HJR 2009 – Constitutional Amendment for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms – This week the legislature took the first step to ensure Iowan’s Second Amendment freedoms are enshrined in the state Constitution for future generations. Iowa is one of only six states that doesn’t already have the right to keep and bear arms in their state constitutions. This amendment recognizes that Iowans have a fundamental, individual right to protect themselves, their families, and their liberty. It requires that the highest level of judicial review be applied to any government restriction on that right, just like other fundamental rights. Contrary to arguments by the Democrats in debate, this amendment will not nullify existing firearms laws that are already on the books.This bill will need to pass both chambers again in the next General Assembly (2019-2020), then be voted on by the people of Iowa in the 2020 general election. The text of the amendment is: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.” I considered it an honor to be able to vote yes for this important measure.

Senate File 2364 – School Security Plans – This bill places a requirement that every school district and every non-public school must develop a security plan for natural disasters and active shooter scenarios. These plans must be developed with local emergency and law enforcement and a drill must occur at least once a year, and may include students in the drill.

Senate File 2349 – Association Health Plans – This bill was amended to allow Iowa based organizations, particularly the Iowa Farm Bureau, to offer Health Benefit Plans to its members in conjunction with well-established health insurance providers, such as Wellmark. These Health Benefit Plans would be similar to health insurance plans, but would operate outside of the onerous requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) yet still be subject to oversight by the Iowa Insurance Commissioner.

House File 2408 – Regulating the Sale of Eggs by stores participating in WIC – In recent years various organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States have attempted to bully retailers into selling only animal byproducts that meet arbitrary criteria that are claimed to be more humane by these organizations. The net result is that these practices make the end product considerably more expensive to produce. In many cases retailers are being bullied into only selling these more expensive products in order to avoid retribution. Eggs are one of these products. While some can afford to pay double or triple the price of traditionally produced eggs for Free Range or Cage Free eggs, persons on welfare programs such as WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) cannot, and should not, be put in a position to pay such high prices. This bill requires any store that sells eggs and accepts WIC coupons to carry the lower cost eggs, but of course can offer the higher priced eggs as well. This bill was signed into law by the governor.

Each year the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association awards a member of the legislature with the Hoover Uncommon Public Service Award. This year the award went to Representative Dawn Pettengill of Benton County. I can’t think of a more deserving person than Representative Pettengill. She has been a tireless worker for her constituents for seven terms in the House. Not only has she been a dedicated servant for her constituents, she’s done the hard work of managing many of our complex insurance industry related bills, and she has also been the House chair for the Administrative Rules Review Committee which works year round on this difficult work. I often refer to Rep. Pettengill as the hardest working state legislator. Congratulations to Representative Pettengill on this honor.

This Tuesday I was visited by Farm Bureau board members from Tama and Black Hawk counties, including Dustin Sage, Emily Ewoldt, Megan Eichmiller, John Lichty, and Scott Rottinghaus.

As always, please feel free to contact me at dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov or 641-750-3594.