Update for District 72-Rep. Dean Fisher
April 5, 2013
Week ten of the session is done. We continue to debate bills on the floor of the House. Tuesday we passed the century mark on the number of bills debated and voted on. This week the emphasis began to shift to appropriations (budget) bills. We passed three key appropriation bills: Transportation which funds things such as the Department of Transportation, planning, programing, and scale and garage replacement, amongst other things. The Administration and Regulations budget allocates funds for state agencies such as the Governor's office, Department of Inspections and Appeals, and others. The Education appropriations bill funds the Regents schools, Tuition Grant fund for students attending private colleges in Iowa, community colleges, Department for the Blind, and other education items. This bill does not appropriate the supplemental school aid funds for our K-12 schools. Sticking to Principles The House Republican caucus is committed to sound budgeting principles. Two short years ago Iowa faced a $900 million budget shortfall following the excesses of the Culver administration. Today we have refilled our constitutionally mandated budget reserves and we have $688 million ending balance for Fiscal Year 2013. The appropriation bills we just passed are consistent with our four principles of not spending more than we take in, not using one-time money to pay for on-going expenses, not intentionally underfunding programs, and returning unused tax dollars to Iowa's taxpayers. This last principle is the toughest because we need Senate support to enact legislation for those refunds. This year the ongoing revenue is $6.5377 billion, and this year the House budget proposal is $6.4139 billion, 98% of revenue. Revenue growth continues to run ahead of projections, but there is a great deal of uncertainty about future revenue growth due to the on-going threat of drought, slow economic growth nationwide, and the effect of federal sequestration. This budget reflects a 3% increase in spending over last year and it protects priorities of education, health and human services, and public safety. This funding increase includes an additional $10 million for our community colleges, a priority increase because our community colleges helps us fill high demand professions. The funding also includes a two percent increase in supplemental state aid for our K-12 schools. As we are wrapping up week 10 of the session, we have yet to see action from the Senate on pressing issues such as education reform or property tax reform. Another principle that I campaigned on is protection of our 2nd Amendment rights. On Monday, March 18 the House debated and passed House File 535, a bill that makes it illegal to publish lists of firearms permit holders. An incident in New York where a newspaper published an interactive map of where permit holders lived drew national outrage over the practice. The publication of such lists puts firearm owners at risk of being robbed by criminals determined on obtaining a gun, and on the other side, it identifies the households that don't have a gun and thus may be easy pickings for thieves. This bill also contained a provision that toughens the penalties for straw purchases of firearms, the practice of buying a firearm with the intent to transfer it to a person who cannot legally purchase a firearm. This bill passed with broad bipartisan support with a vote of 95 to 3. I hope that bodes well for its passage in the Senate. Closing Comments U.S. Senator Charles Grassley is hosting a Town Hall meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 2, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at the Tama Civic Center, 305 Siegel St. Unfortunately, I will be at the capitol during his meeting, but I hope you are able to stop by and hear Senator Grassley and let him know your concerns on our nation's issues. The next Marshalltown Chamber Legislative Forum is scheduled for Friday, March 22 at noon at the Fisher Community Center in Marshalltown. Again this week I hosted many visitors to the capitol. On Wednesday, March 20 four young ladies from the Iowa Juvenile Home spent the day learning about state government, job shadowing legislators, and touring the capitol. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn was heartwarming. On Thursday the 3rd grade classes from East Marshall visited the capitol. These are the same classes I had the pleasure of speaking to a few weeks ago and it was a blast to greet them at the capitol. Also on Thursday was the annual Firehouse Chili Cook-off Contest with dozens of fire departments from around the state serving up samples of their specialty chili's. Lots of delicious chili's! I would encourage you all to come visit me at the capitol during session. Monday afternoons through Thursdays are best for a visit. Please call or email me ahead so I can be sure to greet you and personally show you the House Chamber and take you on a tour up to the top of the dome. We can also arrange a guided tour of this stunningly beautiful building that is "The Peoples House." As always, I look forward to hearing from you, and I look forward to seeing you around the district, or down here at the capitol.
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