District 53 Newsletter: Feb. 8, 2024 Edition

State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Montour)

The legislature is quickly approaching the “funnel” date of February 16 where individually filed bills need to be through the committee process in order to be eligible for floor debate.

This week I floor managed through a subcommittee meeting and the full committee meeting HSB 636, that seeks to implement a bounty program for raccoons. The raccoon population is very high, and the complaints I receive from farmers of crop damage by raccoons is increasing. I’ve seen photos of large patches of corn damaged by raccoons and estimates as high as 15 acres destroyed by them on some farms. The raccoon bounty program would provide a $5 bounty on each raccoon tail turned in with the aim of incentivizing what are known as “production trappers” to increase the raccoon harvest. The harvester would also be able to sell the pelts to private fur dealers as well, so the tail bounty simply adds to the harvest incentive. The DNR tracks data including raccoon harvest numbers and pelt prices, the current pelt price is at a historic low, and so too is the harvest. Decades ago Iowa harvested as many as 350,000 raccoons a year at the peak, currently we are about one tenth of that number.

In this crazy time of Democrats pushing extreme ideologies it has become necessary for the state to take a step back and define some of the most basic of language to maintain order. Governor Reynolds filed a bill that is currently working its way through the House, HSB 649, that defines the terms “man”, “woman”, and “sex”, and specifies that these words refer to the biological definitions only. The LGTBQ lobby has held several raucous demonstrations at the capitol as this bill has advanced. I look forward to it coming to the floor for a vote.

This week, House Republicans advanced a bill, House File 2255, to help parents and kids navigate the ever-changing world of social media. As social media has gotten more popular, we’ve seen the mental health of children decline. Social media can have negative impacts on kids’ self-esteem, result in cyberbullying, and expose kids to inappropriate content. Right now, it’s tough for parents to keep up with all the new, trending social media apps. This bill would require social media apps to get parental permission before anyone under the age of 18 could create an account on their platform. Under this bill, it would be against the law for social media companies to gather data on kids without permission from parents. It would also give parents the ability to revoke their permission at any time as well as monitor their child’s post and messages. This bill puts parents back in the driver’s seat when it comes to their kids’ data and the impact social media can have on their mental health.

House Republicans made it a priority this session to put an emphasis on improving history education in Iowa. When you talk to any young person today, it’s clear our current education system is failing on US/World History and civics. It’s time to make this a priority in education again. House File 2197 requires age-appropriate instruction on the holocaust for students in middle school and high school. Parameters on what must be taught can be found on page 2 of the bill. Recent studies have shown a severe lack of awareness about the holocaust in our state and country and antisemitism remains a persistent issue nationwide. House File 2330 outlines certain history and civics requirements that must be met in all Iowa public, charter and private schools. This bill seeks to ensure students leave their K-12 education with a fundamental understanding of US/World History, democracy, our rights and freedoms as Americans, and the importance of civic engagement. This bill is still working its way through the legislative process. We are actively engaging in conversations on what exactly these standards may look like.

As always, I look forward to seeing you at the capitol, or in the district.

Dean Fisher, a Republican from Montour, represents District 53 in the Iowa House of Representatives including the communities of Clutier, Garwin, Gladbrook, and Lincoln.