We are closing in on the end of the session. We debate fewer and fewer bills as the list dwindles, but the bills we debate are the large, complex appropriations bills that can take many hours and even days of preparation time and then many hours to debate and work through the many amendments. The House has passed several of the appropriations bills and continues work on the rest. On each of these appropriations bills the House is adding language that will prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for confidential state employee settlements.
On Wednesday the East Marshall third grade class visited the capitol with their teachers Kris Penick, Sarah Schutt and Stephanie Campbell and several parent chaperones. It's always fun to see the kids touring the capitol.
State Representative Dean Fisher
Iowa Juvenile Home
As I mentioned in my last newsletter we are looking at options that would make the operation of the Toledo facility more viable than just a Girls State Training School for ten to twenty students. It is critical that we cast a larger vision for the facility. On Thursday the House debated the Health and Human Services appropriations bill. This bill included the funds to maintain the facility, $788,000 which includes staffing and other expenses. I offered an amendment that called for the existing maintenance staff to remain to ensure that we had staff with specific experience of this facility.
This amendment passed. Also, there was an amendment offered that called for the re-opening of the Toledo facility as the Girls State Training School, echoing the Senate bill passed earlier in the session. I voted for this amendment because it had the potential for being a start of re-opening the facility, but I also recognized that there were several problems with the proposal.
This amendment called for the facility to accept only Juvenile Delinquent girls, limiting it to approximately a dozen students, employ a staff of 54 and require the Area Education Agency or the South Tama school district to staff and operate the high school. Clearly the proposal did not carry a large enough vision for a facility of this size, the requisite work had not been done to develop a viable proposal that would make sense for the troubled teenagers needing treatment, the taxpayers of Iowa, and the Department of Human Services that will operate the facility.
I will continue to work on an appropriate plan for the Toledo facility that includes the key stakeholders.
Bills of Note
Senate File 2310 - known as the "Social Host" bill makes it illegal for a property owner or lessee to knowingly allow an underage person to consume alcohol on the premises without the parents' consent. The bill includes fines for both the owner/lessee and the underage consumer.
House File 2462 - In an effort to ensure taxpayers know all the details related to state employee settlements, the House passed legislation to provide for increased accountability and openness. This bill forbids the use of confidentiality clauses in personnel settlement agreements for public employees. The bill also expands what is allowed to be disclosed in public employee personnel records, by making public the reason an employee is discharged, demoted, or resigns in lieu of termination. By preventing the future use of confidential settlement agreements for public employees and providing more transparency, Iowans can be confident their tax dollars are being spent appropriately. HF 2462 now goes to the Senate.
As always, feel free to contact me with your thoughts and concerns. My contact information is