District 53 Newsletter: April 12, 2024 Edition

State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Montour)

We have finished week 14 of the session and are quickly approaching our 100 day milestone, which is Tuesday, April 16, when the clerks are excused, and our per diem for travel expenses ends. We don’t anticipate having the budget fully passed by Tuesday, but we should be in the midst of those budget bills with a goal of completing them this coming week.

We’ve heard from so many Iowans who are frustrated by the amount of speed cameras we’ve seen popping up all around Iowa in the past few years. This week we passed house File 2681 out of the House that adds regulations to traffic speed cameras. Some cities and counties argue that these speed cameras are used to increase public safety. However, it’s clear that some municipalities are abusing these systems and using them as cash cows to raise revenue for themselves. Regulation on speed cameras is long overdue. Here’s what the bill stipulates: cities or counties must prove a legitimate safety concern and receive a permit from the Department of Transportation to install a traffic camera; traffic cameras could only be used to issue tickets to someone driving more than 10 miles over the speed limit; images taken by the traffic camera must be deleted within 30 days unless they are a part of an ongoing criminal investigation; signs must be placed between 500 and 1,00 feet in advance of any traffic camera; local governments can only use the money generated by traffic cameras for transportation infrastructure improvement or for their police and fire departments.

This week, the House began moving budget bills through the subcommittee process. The House Health and Human Services budget appropriates $2.217 billion from the general fund to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services for Fiscal Year 2025. This is a $92.5 million increase compared to FY2024. In total with federal matching funds, this budget appropriates over $6 billion towards Medicaid, childcare, child welfare, public health, aging, and veteran services in Iowa. Below are a few highlights of the House HHS Budget.

Mental Health Care: The Iowa House has made increasing access to mental health care for Iowans a priority. This budget provides $2.25 million in increased state funding towards mental health Medicaid rates, building on last year’s $13 million increase. It also provides for an enhanced rate to Psychiatric Medical Institutes for Children that care for children with the most complex conditions.

Care for older Iowans: This budget provides a $3 million increase to home health rates to help keep Iowans in their homes for longer and to ensure access to care in rural Iowa.

Protecting local pharmacies: We want to protect rural Iowans’ access to local pharmacies. This budget builds on the bills we’ve passed this session by increasing the Medicaid pharmacy dispensing fee by $2 million.

Quality care for disabled Iowans: We want to ensure disabled Iowans get the care and help they need. This budget increases home and community-based services rates to care for disabled Iowans in their communities with a $14.6 million investment. It also provides $5 million to increase access to enhanced case management for Iowans using long-term services and supports and provides $1.78 million to increase the eligibility for the Medicaid for Employed people with disabilities program.

Taking Care of Our Veterans: This budget funds the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Cemetery, and the Iowa Veterans Home at the Governor’s recommended level. Iowa’s veterans deserve all the support possible for their service to this country, and this budget ensures they have access to benefits through the department and can be put to rest with honor and dignity.

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.