News from Des Moines

This week the House Republicans released their plan for the fiscal year 2018 budget adjustment that ensures our spending aligns with the actual revenue coming in as House Study Bill 648. These adjustments total roughly $34 million in reduced spending. If the current revenue estimates for the remainder of this fiscal year ending June 30 hold, the state will end the year with an $8.1 million ending balance under this plan. The House de-appropriation is considerably less than what the Senate recently proposed, which was $59 million. One of the most significant differences was the House plan reduces our community colleges by only $500,000 instead of the Senate plan of a $5.44 million reduction. Our community colleges are on the forefront of training workers for the mid-range skill level job market that is in high demand, so minimizing the impact to our community colleges is an important goal for the House. Other significant differences are that the House plan has a much lower impact on the Judicial Branch funding, the Board of Regents, and the Department of Human Services.

There are of course many bills moving forward in our subcommittees and committees. This Thursday I chaired several subcommittees on bills I’m managing in anticipation of meeting the funnel deadline next week:

• House File 2150 – This bill raises the penalty for killing a person while speeding 25 or more over the speed limit to involuntary manslaughter. Currently speeding alone is not sufficient to meet the court imposed standard of “reckless” in order to justify the manslaughter charge. I filed this bill at the request of the Sheriffs and Deputies Association.

• House File 214 – Changes to the Sex Offender Registry (SOR) – This bill, started in 2017, seeks to make needed corrections to the SOR. Under the current law a Sex Offender (SO) that is living in a “Half Way House” type of arrangement as part of their sentence would not have to register in the SOR because the law implies they are still incarcerated even though they may be out in the community working or at school, etc. This bill would require them to register on the SOR while in a facility that allows them to be out in the public part of the day. Also, under current law a SO living with another person but not married to them who has children in the home would not be guilty of child endangerment, but the parent of the children the SO was living with could be charged with child endangerment. This bill corrects that by making both persons liable for child endangerment in those situations. An amendment that I’ve filed to this bill would also make changes to the SOR Modification process and requirements. Modification is when a convicted SO asks to be removed from his requirement to register on the SOR. Currently a person on the SOR must register for either 10 years or life depending on the severity of the crime. Under current law they can request a modification after 2 years for Tier I offenders, or after 5 years for Tier II or Tier III offenders. The changes would increase these waiting periods to 10 years for Tier I offenders and 25 years for Tier III offenders, and Tier II offenders would never be able to request modification. These requirements would align Iowa with the federal SOR requirements as well. This bill and the amendment are at the request of the Department of Public Safety.

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