The work continues in Des Moines

The House has been focusing on passing our bills on the floor and moving them over to the Senate. We’ve passed 74 bills in the two weeks since Feb. 22. More than 60 of these bills received more than 90 votes in the House indicating the bipartisan nature of most of our legislation.

Federal Tax Coupling

Last week I talked about the Federal Tax Coupling bill, House File 2092, and its impact to Iowans as a result of the Senates delay in passing it. This bill protects 177,000 Iowans from a $96 million tax increase. This delay impacts farmers the most because they are normally required to file their taxes by March 1. Last weekend Gov. Branstad extended the tax filing deadline for farmers to April 30 so that our farmers have some extra time while the senate decides whether or not they want to pull the rug out from what has been a unanimously bi-partisan issue. The Iowa legislature has passed a similar tax coupling bill ever since the Republicans gained the majority in the House. From 2011 through 2015 this bill passed without one single NO vote against it in either chamber. That is an astounding record of bi-partisanship. Unfortunately, this year it’s become a partisan football. I welcome the tax filing delay imposed by Governor Branstad, as it gives those 177,000 Iowans a fighting chance for fair and consistent treatment.

Other Bills of Note

The following bills passed the House this past two weeks and have gone to the Senate:

House File 2278 extends the statute of limitations on kidnapping and human trafficking crimes committed against persons under the age of 18 to 10 years after the victim turns 18, or for three years after the criminal is identified by DNA testing, whichever is later. This will give our prosecutors more opportunity to convict those that commit these heinous crimes.

House File 2401 makes it a crime to apply for a credit card in the name of a minor under the age of 18 without the consent of the parent, guardian, or legal custodian. The penalties escalate based on the dollar amount of products or services obtained using that card. Less than $1,000 is an aggravated misdemeanor, up to $10,000 is a Class D Felony, and over $10,000 is a Class C Felony.

House File 2262 would allow a landowner to allow others to fish on a private pond or lake on their property without a fishing license. This bill gives landowners greater freedom in allowing friends to use their private property and introduce newcomers to the sport of fishing.

House File 2385 increases the fines for illegal dumping and differentiates the fines by the amount of material dumped. Material less than 10 pounds or 15 cubic feet in volume are regarded as “litter,” the fines remain the same, up to $1,000. Dumping material in excess of those amounts will now be regarded as illegal dumping and carry a criminal penalty of a serious misdemeanor with fines from $315 up to $1,875 and confinement up to one year. This bill gives law enforcement stiffer penalties against those that engage in illegal dumping.

State Rep. Dean Fisher can be reached at dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov

The work continues in Des Moines

The House is now focused on debating bills on the House Floor each day as we work through the many bills that have passed committee. Most of these bills are non-controversial, they generate little debate. I ran House File 2265 which made changes to the Safe At Home program on Thursday, which passed 95-0 and now goes to the Senate.

Federal tax coupling

I have received many calls from constituents this past week regarding the Federal Tax Coupling bill, House File 2092, which passed the House on January 28. In tax year 2014, more than 177,000 Iowans took advantage of coupling, saving themselves tens of millions of dollars. The annual coupling bill has never been a partisan issue in the past. Since Republicans gained the House majority in 2011, the annual coupling bill had not received a single “No” vote in either the House or the Senate prior to this year. That is an astounding record of bipartisanship. Now, suddenly this year it’s become a partisan issue. Senate Majority Leader Gronstal is now insisting on countervailing revenue measures in exchange for this coupling bill. In other words, he’s holding it hostage. Our farmers are especially hit hard by this partisan act because they must file their taxes by March 1, lack of coupling will cost many of them thousands of dollars more. Gov. Branstad now supports this bill as well.

Medicaid transition to managed care

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave final approval to Iowa’s transition to Managed Care Organizations for Medicaid recipients. These Iowans finally have certainty on the future of Medicaid Modernization. House Republicans will now be focusing on reasonable oversight measures to ensure that Medicaid patients continue to receive High quality healthcare and strive for managed outcomes instead of outdated and open ended fee for service treatment. The change will take effect on April 1, a one-month delay to the previous schedule. This additional 30-day delay allows for more service providers to sign on and will allow for us to better assist those affected by the transition.

It is now time for the Democrats to join with the Republicans and begin assisting with this transition, the partisan political wrangling needs to end. It is important that all of us work to make sure this transition is successful for the Iowans benefiting from Medicaid and for the Iowans paying for those benefits. The goal remains the same, to improve health outcomes while protecting the tax payer’s dollar.

Other Bills of Note

On Tuesday The House passed five firearms related bills while hundreds of pro-Second Amendment supporters looked on from the House gallery. These bills comprise nearly all of the provisions of the 2015 session Omnibus Firearms bill that passed the House last session, but the Senate refused to take up.

Before I close, I must take a personal point of privilege – I have recently become engaged to be married to a beautiful and charming lady that I have been seeing since last summer. Her name is Vicki Harker, she is from the Des Moines area. We plan a July wedding. We plan to live on my family farm in the house my grandparents lived in all of their married life. I look forward to being able to introduce Vicki to all my constituents!

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State Rep. Dean Fisher can be reached at dean.fisher@legis.iowa.gov or 641-750-3594.