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Fisher Previews 2020 Iowa Legislative Session

January 15, 2020
By State Rep. Dean Fisher - R-Montour , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

District 72 Newsletter

The 2020 session began on Monday, January 13. This is the second year of the 88th General Assembly in Iowa.

The Iowa House will be electing new leadership this coming session. Speaker Select Pat Grassley will officially be elected Speaker on the first day of session and Rep. Matt Windschitl will be taking over as the new Majority Leader for the House Republicans. I have worked with Rep. Grassley and Rep. Windschitl over the years and I have the utmost confidence in their leadership abilities.

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State Rep. Dean Fisher

The Iowa House will be convening with a Republican majority of 53, and 47 Democrats. With a requirement of 51 votes to pass any piece of legislation, it is therefore imperative that the House Republicans stand together on every bill we bring forward.

I will be continuing on as Chair of the House Environmental Protection Committee, and will also continue on as a member of the Public Safety, Commerce, and Natural Resources committees. A change for this year is that I will now be a member of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee. I will have a new clerk this year, Rachael Attema, from Ames. Rachael's husband clerks for Rep. Kerr, who sits next to me in the chamber, so they will be able to commute easily.

Some of the issues that are already being discussed include the budget, education, pro-life legislation, and of course much more.

The budget is always a major effort. There are seven budget subcommittees that develop their portion of the budget using targets set by the overall Appropriations Committee.

We finished the 2019 fiscal year with a surplus, and anticipate a surplus at the end of 2020 also. The budget estimates are on target to show some modest growth in revenue.

However, we anticipate that Medicaid will gobble up a significant portion of that growth, and we will also need to account for income tax cuts that we passed in 2017, so there will be little extra money for new programs.


One of the key issues for me this session will be the passage of a constitutional amendment that specifies that the right to an abortion does not exist in the Iowa Constitution.

The Iowa Supreme Court, using seriously flawed legal arguments, determined that the Iowa Constitution guarantees a right to an abortion, even though it clearly does not. They then used this flawed argument to strike down the three day waiting period for an abortion and the Heartbeat bill that prevented an abortion after a baby's heartbeat is detected.

This constitutional amendment is designed to curtail these spurious assumptions made by the court so that the issue will be up to the Legislature and the people of Iowa, not the court.

Mental Health

The issue of Mental Health has also been a hot topic at meetings I've had with school administrators, county supervisors, and Farm Bureau boards. The Legislature over the last two sessions has addressed this issue by providing for Mental Health Access Centers and by initiating the creation of a statewide framework for children's mental health. Currently, much of our mental health system is funded through property taxes at the county level via a per person assessment that is capped at $47.28 per person. This funding mechanism is likely to be reviewed this session.

Education Funding

Education funding for our public k-12 schools has also been discussed. There are those that are claiming that education funding has been cut over the last few years.

These claims are completely false. Education funding has risen by $864 million since 2011, a significant increase. And most importantly, the Legislature has kept its promise by not only approving the increase in spending authority, but also provided the promised increase in the actual budget. Prior to 2011 when the Democrats controlled the Legislature this was not the case, they frequently passed spending authority increases while cutting the actual funds sent to the schools. Additional discussions this year will likely center around transportation funding assistance for our rural schools and equalization of the per student amount schools receive.

This is just a sample of what is before us in the weeks and months ahead as the session gets underway.

I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you down at the Capitol!



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