The 2010 Iowa Legislative Session is now in session, and how things have changed:

A year ago, Republicans came into the 83rd General Assembly dejected and rejected on the heels of yet another setback at the ballot box the previous November. The 2008 elections saw now-President Obama easily win Iowa, which helped Iowa Democrats gain seats in both the Iowa House and Senate. Republican lost three seats in the House and two in the Senate.

Now, just one year later, Republicans have a bounce in their step as they return to the state capitol. The glum faces that seemed to show no hope of a Republican recovery have faded, and in their place is a sense of hope and opportunity for the upcoming elections.

The upbeat mood was evident at the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual legislative breakfast yesterday morning. The best line of the event was delivered by House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen. Paulsen said, “When it comes to the budget, you all know that it is our biggest problem. Apparently, it caught one person in the state off guard [Culver].”

And the budget will be the focus of this year’s General Assembly which has been shortened to 80 days.  Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has made it abundantly clear that a marriage amendment won’t be on the Iowa Senate’s agenda regardless of our protest.  The budget and spending was also the theme in Iowa Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley’s opening day remarks, as well as, with Iowa House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen’s remarks.  Some even emphasized it in dramatic fashion.  Some do so by promising what for their party will be nothing short of a minor miracle.

Governor Chet Culver in his condition of the state address this morning (which I wasn’t able to listen to live due to a reschedule staff meeting, but will read and blog on later… I know you are just giddy with anticipation) put forth his idea of a four-day work week for state employees again.  Civic Skinny shared what one anonymous Democrat thought of that idea.

“He likes the idea so much he’s been trying it out ever since he’s been in office.”

Um, if that is what your friends think of you, it can’t be a good sign.  Gird your loins!  At least we can all give thanks that they have less time to do damage.

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