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Fisher gives views as 2015 Iowa Legislative session is underway

January 15, 2015
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Editor's Note: State Representative Dean Fisher represents Tama, and portions of Marshall and southern Black Hawk counties in the Iowa House. He currently serves on Natural Resources (Vice Chair), Appropriations, Commerce, Local Government and HHS Budget committees.

He responded to questions from The Chronicle and also gave his view of the state legislative session which just began on Monday, Jan. 12

Raising fuel tax

Article Photos

State Rep. Dean Fisher

My position on raising the fuel tax has remained unchanged since before my election in 2012. I believe that Iowa has sufficient revenue to meet its needs without raising taxes. By judiciously reallocating our existing revenue streams I believe we can provide the additional funds we need for maintaining our roads and bridges. That amount has been estimated at $215 million per year. Therefore, I do not favor increasing the fuel tax under any circumstance, unless that increase comes with a corresponding decrease in some other tax rate such as the income tax, shifting the revenue from one source to another. If we decrease income tax rates by an amount that would reduce revenue by $215 million and increase fuel taxes by the ten cents needed to generate $215 million, then Iowans would see an overall reduction in tax revenue of $43 million because approximately 20% of the fuel tax is paid by out of state drivers, particularly truckers. I continue to advocate this method in the legislature.

Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls

I am continuing to work with Toledo and county leaders to find a new purpose for the facility. One such opportunity is for the facility to once again become a Bible College for a denomination that is seeking to start such a college. This opportunity would create a unique Bible college for the Chin Baptist Churches USA. The Chin Baptists are Christian immigrants from the Chin state in Myanmar that have received refugee status in the USA because of oppression in Myanmar from the Buddhist and Muslim majorities in that country. A Bible college would provide these recent immigrants a natural step in their assimilation to America. This college could potentially attract several hundred students per year, adding considerably to economic growth in Toledo.

Cedar Rapids Casino

Interests in Cedar Rapids including Mayor Corbett are reported to plan to seek legislative approval or change to allow for a casino in Cedar Rapids. I believe that Iowa has enough casinos operating already. I do not favor adding more.

School start date

The Iowa legislature revised the requirements for schools last year to allow for a set number of days OR hours to define the school year. We are awaiting feedback on how this added flexibility helps our schools plan their calendar year.

I applaud the governor's call for the Dept. of Education to stop issuing automatic approvals of requests to start the school year before the legislated start date requirement. I believe strongly that Iowa's schools should not be in session while the Iowa State Fair is underway. The Iowa State Fair is a wonderful opportunity for Iowa's youth to participate in a great Iowa tradition and it is a great educational opportunity as well. The Iowa State Fair allows our youth to meet and work with other youth and adults from across the state, expanding their network of association far beyond their own communities. This is especially true for Iowa's agricultural community. Our schools should not take this opportunity away from Iowa's youth by starting during the Iowa State Fair. Iowa's schools were number one in the nation for many decades operating under a calendar that started in early September; I see no reason why today's schools cannot perform just as highly today with the same calendar.

Rep. Fisher's Statement:

I am working with the Tama County sheriff's department on legislation that will give law enforcement more tools to deal with sex offenders, particularly aimed at preventing child sex abuse before significant abuse occurs. I will offer more details as this effort progresses.

I am also working on other pieces of legislation, including bills that support local business efforts to operate more efficiently and bills that will support victims of domestic abuse.



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