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Tama County legislators hear from constituents in Toledo

April 11, 2019
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Senator Jeff Edler and State Rep. Dean Fisher, the legislative pair who include all of Tama County among their districts, gave an overview of the session underway in Des Moines and responded to questions in Toledo Friday.

More than 30 persons were on hand for the forum at the State Bank of Toledo Public Meeting room where topics ranged from abortion to felon voting rights, legalization of hemp and marijuana production to property tax issues.

The forum was hosted by the Tama-Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Danielle Hardon.

Article Photos

State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Montour) and State Senator Jeff Edler (R-State Center) field questions on Friday, April 5, in Toledo. T-T Area Chamber moderator Daniell Hardon is at left.
Chronicle photos/John Speer

Senator Edler opened the discussion with a recount of the fiscal condition of Iowa state government noting the reserve fund was filled and had "roughly $1.1 billion in reserve. He said the legislature had $250 million in new spending measures taking place this session.

"I'm very proud of what the House and Senate have been able to do in the past couple of years - those numbers were not quite that rosy a couple of years ago," Edler said.

Edler said Governor Kim Reynolds had chosen him "to run her children's mental health bill through the Senate. He said this is expected to occur this week.

Additionally he said the Senate will be working on property tax relief.

State Rep. Fisher said committee work had wrapped up and appropriation bills were being brought forth. He noted there were a number of policy bills before legislators including abortion and second amendment rights.


The question and answer session opened with an exchange concerning abortion rights.

"Do you think you're smarter than women ?" Toledo resident Cathy Cook challenged both legislators on their abortion rights stands."

She said "There's a lot of heart break in pregnancy- a child born with all kinds of troubles."

"I stand for life," Fisher said. "The vast majority of abortions are elective."

"I'm going to answer from a principle standpoint, when do we define death?" Edler said. "When a heartbeat stops."

Both legislators said work is underway to pass some type of legislation to halt rises in property taxes. Fisher said any action would only involve city and county rates, not the school support portion.

A two percent cap on boosts in the rates might be imposed with a clause allowing local officials to bring a referendum before residents if a higher tax amount is sought, Fisher said.

Keith Sash, mayor of Gladbrook, said he approved of the two percent limit but said a rollback would result in a concern. Fisher said there would be an accommodation for rollbacks in any legislation.

"Is there any progress - action - in Des Moines you can share on the future of the Iowa Juvenile home campus?" was the question from The Chronicle.

Fisher said efforts to work with Hobart Restoration Restoration on repurposing the property in Toledo continue. He said the stumbling block is Hobart wants $1.5 to $2 million up front to begin the project.

The Cedar Rapids-based company had proposed last year to create a variety of housing options on the 27 acre site to include single family homes and multi-unit apartments. A memory care unit was also proposed as part of the project.

Hobart, had earlier indicated at one point, it was pulling out of the negotiations

Fisher said a fund is in the works to provide up to $2 million to be directed at demolition and restoration of state property.

The facility has beenmoth balled since January, 2014, when then Governor Terry Branstad and Human Services Director Charles Palmer ordered the Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls closed.

Hemp and Marijuana- Both legislators indicated they believed any action on legalization of industrialized hemp production might be two years away. They each were skeptical farmers would benefit significantly from the additional crop.

Both voiced opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Rural Toledo resident Dallas Wiese warned of the dangers of marijuana use charging it is a "gateway drug" to the use of other narcotics.

Fisher defended his vote, one of two in opposition, in a 95-2 vote in the House which approved restoration of felon voting rights. He said it was "pretty much a no brainer the way it was worded." The issue was how defining "discharge of sentence" would apply, Fisher said.

The issue has died in the Senate.

Readers can regularly keep track of the activities of Senator Edler and Rep. Fisher on the Opinion Pages of The Chronicle and Tama-News-Herald where their columns appear weekly during the legislative sessions.



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