News from Des Moines

Week 2 of the session was marked by the process of filing bills and moving them through subcommittee. There are of course the larger issues that are being addressed by the various committees such as the budget, tax reform, Medicaid and health insurance issues, water quality, and so on. There are also many other bills that individual legislators are pressing as well. I’ll discuss two of the bills I have filed this session in this newsletter.

Biblical Literacy as an elective – This bill, House File 2031, will direct the Dept. of Education to develop course standards for a high school elective social studies course that will provide students with knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and stories so that they may better understand contemporary society and culture, including the Bible’s influence on literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy. Currently over 600 high schools offer similar courses in forty three states. Of these forty three states, eleven of them offer them as a matter of statute similar to this bill. Studies have shown that Biblical Literacy is an important component in a well-rounded education. One professor has stated that the Bible is the “most influential text in all of Western culture.” The Bible’s impact on American history and culture are undeniable.

Tier IV Sex Offender Registry – House File 163. This is a bill that I introduced during the 2017 session which I am continuing to work on. This bill addresses the problem of sex offenders that “time out” of the registry after a set number of years (usually 10 years) and then move to a new area of the state or move into Iowa from another state. If a sex offender has timed out, law enforcement has no way of knowing this person is in their community. This bill establishes a new requirement for any person that has ever had to register as a sex offender in Iowa or any other jurisdiction to register with the county sheriff when they move into or around the state. This classification of sex offenders would not be required to re-register quarterly or annually like other classes of sex offenders. Previous Iowa Supreme Court cases (such as Iowa vs. Pickens, 1997) have determined that such registry requirements are constitutional because they do not constitute ex post facto punishment, they are merely regulation. This requirement will give law enforcement greater insight into who is living in our communities. This bill passed subcommittee on Thursday of this week and now goes to the full committee.

My clerk for this session is David Blom. David is 20 years old and lives in Marshalltown. He has been active in Marshall County and state political activities and currently serves as the Marshall County GOP vice chair. He recently graduated from Marshalltown Community College with an associate’s degree in liberal arts and plans to continue his studies at a four-year university. He is excited to learn about public service and the legislative process first hand at the Capitol this session.

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