District 53 newsletter from Rep. Dean Fisher

District 53 Representative Dean Fisher (Republican)

Week two of the session is done, this is the week when we begin our work on bills in earnest. I’ve chaired a few subcommittee’s this week for bill’s assigned to me by the Public Safety Committee chair, and served as a member of several others. I’m also working on writing and filing several other bills.

The bill that has garnered the most attention from the Governor’s Condition of the State address is the bill reforming Area Education Agencies. I’ve heard from many constituents with concerns with the original draft of the bill. I appreciate all the feedback I have received and am actively engaging in conversations on how we can make this bill better. This bill is not on a fast track to be passed in its initial form. This week, the Governor announced that she will be introducing an amendment to the bill after hearing from Iowans and legislators. It’s the legislature’s job to dig into the details of any proposals, understand its full impact, and take feedback from Iowans about how to make the bill better through the legislative process. That is exactly what we are doing.

It bears discussion as to why the governor, and now the legislature, is considering changes the AEA’s. Our students with disabilities deserve the very best. For that reason, it is worth an honest assessment of how we are doing at providing education to those students and be open to ways we can do better. Despite Iowa spending over $5,300 more per pupil on special education funding than the national average, we’ve ranked 30th or worse in nine of the 12 national assessments on special education performance. The US Department of Education has categorized Iowa as “Needs Assistance” in providing quality education to students with disabilities, with risk of falling to “Needs Intervention” next year. Let me repeat that for emphasis – The US Department of Education has categorized Iowa as “Needs Assistance” in providing quality education to students with disabilities, with risk of falling to “Needs Intervention” next year. You aren’t hearing that need for improvement coming from the education system, and that is shameful. So it’s up to the governor and the legislature to once again be the agents of change and improvement. Not because we want to, but because we must for the good of our children.

Just because we have always done something one way, doesn’t mean it is the best way to do something. I think we can all agree on that basic principle. It’s worth noting that Iowa is the only state that requires school districts to send money straight to the AEAs whether they are utilizing their services or not. This system, where the money is automatic, and the AEA’s handle oversight of their own services, leaves very little room for accountability. Again, I hear each and every one of you that have reached out to share the importance of the AEA’s. And I have no intention of voting for a proposal that would leave school districts high and dry without the essential services currently being provided by AEAs. In my view, the initial bill went too far, too fast. We will continue to work on this bill to determine how best to improve special education outcomes.

On Thursday, the Iowa House passed House Resolution 101 affirming Iowa’s support for Israel. The resolution also condemned the brutal attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians on Oct. 7, 2023, that resulted in the death of approximately 1,200 Israelis. The resolution took a strong stand against the terrorist group Hamas, and the support and funding they received from Iran. With this resolution, the Iowa House confirmed its unwavering support for the State of Israel and its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens and pursue the elimination of Hamas and any other affiliated terrorist groups. The resolution passed on a voice vote, with a few Democrats in the caucus voting against the resolution. A handful of anti-Israel demonstrators were also in the capitol rotunda that morning chanting in support of Hamas.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you down at the capitol, or in the district.