Update for District 72-Rep. Dean Fisher
May 24, 2013
Week eighteen is done and we are going into week nineteen of the session. Various conference committees continue to work through the budget, education reform, property tax reform, health care reform, and a few other bills. We did pass several of the budget bills this past week, but we are not yet done. Due to this slow pace, I will be publishing my newsletter on an as needed basis instead of weekly. Farm Liability This past week the House and Senate both passed a bill that will re-instate the indemnity from liability of a landowner for recreational use of the land. As I've reported earlier, this was necessary because of the Iowa Supreme Court decision in the Sallee vs. Stewart case where a chaperone on a school field trip was injured and sued the farmer, winning the case. This decision overturned 40 years of precedent, jeopardizing the ability of farmers to not only allow school children to see the farm on field trips, but also the ability to allow hunters and fishers to use their property. This legislation, House File 649, will correct the Supreme Court's decision and expand the protections to landowners. The bill expanded the protections by not only including the person engaging in recreation, but any person accompanying that person. The bill also expanded the indemnity to include not only the landowner, but any person renting or operating the land from the landowner. The bill now goes to the governor for signature. Iowa Veterans Home Many of you have seen the media attention being given to the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown revolving around the Commandant. This issue is of great interest to me not only for our veterans, but also for the many employees of the IVH that live in my district. Over the past year or so I've been approached by a number of my constituents regarding complaints about the employee morale and other issues at the IVH. On Monday, May 6, I attended a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing at the capitol where a number of past employees and other citizens aired their concerns about the leadership at the Iowa Veterans Home. This is a difficult issue; often times members of an organization go through stress when changes in organizational structure are made, causing dissension, and many times simple differences in management style can cause dissension. I've experienced those very issues in my own professional career as both an employee and as a manager enacting the changes. Early on I suspected the complaints I was hearing about the IVH fell into some combination of those two categories. However, I have heard from too many past and present IVH employees and IVH volunteers to pass it off to organizational change and management style. As one person at the hearing asserted, where there's smoke, there's fire. Fortunately, on May 7, Governor Branstad took action and appointed retired Iowa National Guard Brigadier General Jodi Tymeson as the Chief Operating Officer at the IVH. She will begin that job on May 28. I think this is a very positive step in improving the morale at the IVH. Tymeson is a strong leader, firm, tough, and fair. Hopefully the morale at the IVH will improve dramatically once Tymeson comes on board. Tymeson has my respect and my full support. Sticking to Principles As work on the budget continues, it's encouraging to see that our Republican budgeting principles are winning the day. Agreements with the Senate on the overall budget targets leave us with spending that is below our ongoing revenue of $6.5 billion. We will be fully funding tax credits (such as the Homestead tax credit) for the first time since 2002. We are providing critical funding for our own Nutrient Reduction Strategy so that the EPA will not force us into their nutrient reduction strategy like they've done in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We also have a plan, yet to be passed, to use some of our ending balance to pay off part of our existing state debt. Closing Comments Parade season is upon us, I will be in most of the parades in the district again this year. Our first outing was this past Saturday, May 17, at the Tama Lincoln Bridge Festival parade. Our next parade will be either the State Center Rose Festival, or the La Porte City Trails Festival, both the morning of Saturday, June 15. As always, I will be in the crowd shaking hands and greeting folks instead of riding on the float. 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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