District 53 Newsletter Jan. 26, 2023, from Rep. Dean Fisher

Dean Fisher (R-Montour)

On Monday of this week, both chambers of the House passed House file 68, the Students First Act. On Tuesday, Governor Reynolds held a formal public signing ceremony for that bill with hundreds of supporters in the Rotunda to witness it. I’ve written about this bill in detail in past newsletters, but in a nutshell, this bill creates Education Savings Accounts for families that want to send their child to a private school, up to $7,598 per child.

Two provisions in the bill that are being glossed over are the added spending flexibility that public schools will have. Several funds have been targeted for specific programs, those funds will now be available for other uses, such as teacher salaries at the school district’s discretion. The other provision extends the Operation Sharing program that provides additional funds to schools that share certain staff positions with other districts through 2034.

I supported The Students First Act for the simple reason that I believe every parent deserves the option to send their child to the school they feel is the best fit for them. For years I’ve heard parents expressing frustration with not having their voices heard by their public school, whether it was frustration with masking their children, inappropriate books in the library or class, “Woke” indoctrination in socio-political agendas, or bullying issues. These parents now have another option if they so choose, and the public school administrations now have another reason to listen and act more carefully toward the parents. Many have claimed that this bill comes at a cost to public education, but after considering the bill carefully, I totally disagree. We must first and foremost support our parents and their duty to see to their child’s education. We can support those choices and support our public schools at the same time.

On Thursday, We passed House File 93 unanimously. This bill bars the practice of requiring employees of mental health organizations to sign a “non-compete” contract. The purpose of this bill is to increase the mobility of our mental health care professionals. Expanding access to mental health care is one of the top issues we hear about from our constituents. We have done a lot of great work in past sessions to address this issue, but one of our biggest obstacles remains the need for more mental health care providers. This bill will help ensure that there are no contract restrictions on where a mental health care provider can treat Iowans.

One of the bills I’ve filed this session is House File 118, which seeks to allow for nuisance animals to be destroyed year-round without the onerous need to get permission from the DNR or wait for the animal to be doing damage to crops or property. Raccoons, coyotes, opossums, skunks, and groundhogs are all defined as nuisance animals in this bill. This bill has gotten considerable attention within the state, as well as being written up in the Wall Street Journal.

I love to see constituents down at the capitol, if you plan on visiting during the session, please let me know so that we can meet.