The work has definitely shifted this week as we wind down with policy bills and begin work on the budget bills. With the budget targets agreed to by both chambers, we are now six weeks ahead of last year's timetable. Work in our standing committees has wound down. For me those are Natural Resources, Local Government, and Commerce. Detail work on the Health and Human Services budget sub-committee is now one of my prime focal points. There are many needs in this area; a need to increase fees paid to our emergency medical services for ambulance calls; the need for brain injury therapy; autism support; child abuse prevention; they are all important and they are all heart tugging needs. Deciding how to fund these services without going over our budget is a difficult task.
Monday morning I had the pleasure of touring the "On With Life" (OWL) brain injury rehabilitation facility in Ankeny. OWL is a not-for-profit organization that was started by eight families who had discovered first-hand the need for brain injury services here in Iowa.
State Rep. Dean Fisher
OWL is one of only six freestanding facilities in the world that provides certified hospital level skilled inpatient brain injury rehabilitation. Six days a week the staff works with up to 26 patients in various therapy settings to help the patients redevelop their cognitive and motor skills. In Iowa, one out of every 2,500 persons suffer a brain injury annually and over 50,000
Iowans live with the consequences of brain injury. There are hundreds of Iowans on a waiting list for these types of rehabilitation services. None of these numbers include concussions, the most common form of brain injury. Brain injury can occur from sudden trauma such as a car accident or fall, or it can occur as the result of a stroke, aneurysm, tumor or oxygen starvation. It can happen to anyone in an instant. Facilities like OWL are a critical part of Iowa's health care system.
Iowa Juvenile Home
Discussion among the House leadership and governor's office continue. We continue to consider the welfare of the children once served by the IJH as our top priority; Iowa needs a Girls State Training School to serve these troubled teenagers.
We also have to consider as high priorities the economic impact on the Toledo area, and the fact that we have a beautiful facility in the midst of Toledo that the taxpayers have invested $25 million into since 1997.
Bills of Note
HF 2181 - Lemon Law change - My bill to change the weight limit in the vehicle Lemon Law has passed the Senate Transportation committee and now goes to the full Senate. This bill increases the weight limit from 10,000 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight to 15,000 lbs so that the larger pickups we have today will be covered.
HSB 672 - Legalization of Fireworks - This bill would allow the sale and use of fireworks in Iowa by unlicensed citizens. The sale of fireworks to a minor is still prohibited under this bill. A county or municipality would have the right to ban the use within their jurisdiction as well. A similar bill has been rejected in the Iowa Senate, this bill is still alive in the House Ways and Means committee.
I would encourage you all to come down to the capitol for a visit, but hurry, we may adjourn by mid April. If you do, ask for a tour of the capitol dome, Diane will be ready to take you all the way up to the cupola. And of course you will want to take the tour of the rest of the capitol with the regular tour guides. As always, feel free to contact me with your thoughts and concerns about our state government. My contact information is: