(Des Moines, IA) The Iowa Legislature adjourned for the 2017 session on Saturday morning at 7:45a after pulling an all-nighter to pass final appropriations bills, as well as, a medical marijuana bill.
Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican legislative leadership reflected on the session.
Branstad released the following statement:
As a former legislator, former lt. governor and chief executive of the state, I’ve worked with the Legislature for 33 years. When you look at the volume and diversity of policy issues that were addressed this year, I am proud to say this has been one of the most significant and productive sessions in our history,” said Branstad. “We have given Iowa taxpayers and families a balanced budget under difficult circumstances, prioritized K-12 education funding while building a computer science foundation for our schools, provided money for family planning clinics that don’t provide abortions, protected the ballot box, strengthened our traffic safety laws, protected victims of domestic abuse and violence, solidified Iowans’ Constitutional 2ndAmendment rights, and most importantly, made Iowa more competitive for attracting business and industry. This is a long list of accomplishments that would not have been possible without the hard work of the Iowa Legislature. However, I remain disappointed that we were unable to reach consensus on a long-term, reliable and dedicated source of funding for water quality infrastructure. In the next 30 days, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and I will thoughtfully and carefully review all the bills passed, and act according to our principles.
Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds who will replace Branstad once he is confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to China released the following statement:
I’m proud of the progress we made this year in making Iowa an even greater place to live, work and raise a family. We saw legislators from both rural and urban areas come together and address many of the priorities the governor laid out in his 2017 Condition of the State Address. Iowans can be proud of their elected representatives and the hard work they put in. Although both chambers have now passed water quality funding bills, I’m disappointed that we were unable to reach consensus this year and put a bill on the governor’s desk. This issue remains of utmost importance to Iowans and I hope we are able to address it next session.
With an unemployment rate the lowest it’s been in 16 years, coupled with many of these reforms, we are truly positioned for greatness in the future. Gov. Branstad and I will take a close look at all of the budget and policy bills that were passed in the past few days, and ensure the budget remains balanced, and policies are implemented that help grow the economy and protect Iowa taxpayers and families.
Iowa Senate Republicans released a transcript of Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s closing remarks:
Fifteen weeks ago, we made a series of promises to you, to the people of Iowa. Promises for the people who voted for a change, for action, and for results. On day one, we promised you real, substantive policies for growth. We were not elected for more of the same.
We were elected to make big changes and bold decisions, just like the people of Iowa made when they voted for an overwhelming Republican majority in the Iowa House of Representatives and here in the Iowa Senate.
This session was different. The reason this session was different is because over the last fifteen weeks, we have kept our promises. In contrast to the institutional dysfunction on display in Washington, DC we have worked together to move this state forward with bold, innovative reforms.
Fifteen weeks ago, we promised real policies that focus on economic growth in our state.
Senate File 1 required jobs impact statements on administrative rule changes and instructed the state’s departments to consider how these changes will impact jobs in our state, a decision vital to creating an environment for economic growth in our state.
We passed Senate Joint Resolution 9, allowing the people of Iowa to vote on putting a 99 percent expenditure limit amendment to the Iowa Constitution. This would provide confidence to Iowa families and job creators that the state will live within its means in the same way the people of Iowa must live within their means. That stability gives them the motivation to invest, and raise their families in this state.
We made a series of changes to regulations in this state, with the goal of allowing our job creators to spend less time fending off frivolous lawsuits and focus on expanding their businesses in our communities. The agriculture nuisance law protects good agricultural producers from job-killing lawsuits. Workers’ compensation reform restored the balance to Iowa’s system and lowered costs for job creators. Medical malpractice reform lowers costs for doctors and encourages them to work in rural Iowa.
We promised you real policies for educational growth. This year we were able to pass on-time supplemental state aid, setting budgets early and allowing school districts more time and predictability to plan their school year budgets. Major education flexibility policy passed unanimously in this chamber allows schools the freedom to address their specific needs with fewer top-down restrictions. We passed collective bargaining reform, allowing school boards and administrators to reward good teachers and get rid of bad teachers.
We passed a bill Senate Republicans had been pushing for years – transportation equity for our rural school districts. This bill is important to many rural districts across the state as they seek to provide the best education to their students regardless of where they live in Iowa.
This Senate moved common-sense laws supported by a wide majority of Iowans, including one of the largest gun bills in recent history, expanding the rights of every gun owner across the state. We also passed a requirement for a government-issued identification in order to participate in one of the most profound responsibilities as a citizen of our republic – voting. This session also saw the most significant pro-life legislation in forty years.
This is what fifteen weeks of a Senate Republican majority looked like. Not wasting time with politics – just substantive, real policies. This is only a chapter of the legacy we hope to leave for our state as we move this state forward in a positive, fiscally responsible, economically prosperous direction.
At the beginning of this session I said Iowans wanted us to change the way we do business. They wanted us to kick the door in. Well, we accepted that challenge and we kicked the door in. Now, the door of opportunity is wide open for Iowans to invest, grow, and succeed.
2017 was a legislative session in which we made it happen!
Below are closing remarks made by Senate President Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny):
As the 2017 Legislative session reaches adjournment, let me start by thanking all of you for the honor to preside over this body. Friends and colleagues, it truly has been a privilege. I also would like to take a moment to ask the chamber to join me in showing our appreciation to the Secretary of the Senate, his staff and the Senate pages for their hard work and efforts during this Legislative session.
This year has been very memorable for me. I am proud to serve as the Senate President and preside over a chamber with fifty Senators who care deeply about this state. We all have the same goal – to make Iowa a better place. Admittedly, we sometimes have different solutions. We have had robust debates this year on the best way forward for Iowa. There were intense moments, friendly moments, serious moments and humorous moments. Throughout it all, I have done my best to be fair and promote an open, spirited conversation the entire Session.
When people look back at the 2017 Legislative Session, I believe they will say that this is the year that changed Iowa forever. They will say that 2017 was the year that created an economic revival in our state. This was the year that created growth and opportunity for generations to come.
At the beginning of this Session, I challenged this body to act boldly. With leading and acting boldly comes criticism and doubt. I would urge my colleagues and fellow Iowans to judge the success of this legislature on the results of these policies, not on the talking points from either party.
This Session also was memorable for me because I had the honor of having my two daughters spend a day with me in the Iowa Senate. One of the joys I get as a father is playing with them, reading to them, and working on puzzle books. They love connect the dot books. It is amazing watching their faces light up when they see lines connected from dot to dot turn into a clear picture.
I truly believe our bold agenda was crafted with a realistic vision, which will positively affect for our state for years to come. The Legislature has passed many bills this year – let me share with you how Senate Republicans see the big picture after the dots are connected.
This Session we improved Iowa’s job climate by reducing burdensome regulations on small businesses, worked toward reducing frivolous lawsuits and created uniform employment law.
We revitalized rural Iowa by working to increase access to healthcare, lifted up our rural schools by giving them home rule, created additional legal protections for Iowa farmers, and ensured cities and counties could get more bang for their buck on infrastructure projects.
Education remains our priority as we increased funding to K-12 education despite severe budget challenges. We empowered local schools by providing administrators and boards more flexibility with spending decisions and working to solve equity issues with school funding.
The Legislature approved legislation to keep our communities and Iowans safe. We placed a ban on texting while driving, protected students from sex offenders while at school and passed legislation to provide substance abuse treatment for OWI offenders.
Protecting the personal freedoms of Iowans is imperative. We enhanced Second Amendment protections, improved the integrity of our election system and legalized fireworks. I am also extremely proud to know we passed several bills protecting the sanctity of life in this session.
We stand proudly for a smaller, smarter government. These measures will go a long way in helping us navigate out of our financial dilemma. We passed a balanced budget and made a commitment to refill our cash reserves in a timely manner. We passed legislation to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars as well as reformed the public sector bargaining system.
As I said in my comments on the opening day of Session, more than three million Iowans are looking to us to lead, and to make the hard decisions necessary to create a better future for this state. I asked this chamber to look beyond the next election and look to the next generation. I challenged the body to make decisions that will change our state forever. I know we have done that. We have made many major changes that I know will make Iowa a more prosperous and better state for years to come.
I started this Session with an abundance of optimism for our future. As we close the 2017 Session of the 87th General Assembly, I am even more optimistic about the future of Iowa.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as Senate President, and thank you for your hard work and service to the people of Iowa. See you in January!
Below is the transcript of closing remarks made by House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake):
Go ahead and sit back in your seats ladies and gentlemen. I started with a short speech, but I was just handed 10 additional pages of comments from Rep. Heaton and Rep. Worthan.
This was a session in which we all came in a little unsure of how to read the message from the election. What seemed clear however, is that voters were tired of the status quo and they weren’t very interested in shoulder shrugs or finger-pointing from their representatives.
Voters wanted government to get work done and to work on their behalf. In short, the message from Iowans is that they wanted a better deal.
We took that to heart and while congress still looks like a pickup truck stuck in mud, we rolled our sleeves up and got to work.
Rather than being restrained by tradition or status quo, we accepted the challenge of doing the hard things.
We addressed budget shortfalls in January with thoughtful adjustments in spending. We didn’t use gimmicks to shift spending and we didn’t do clumsy across the board cuts that would have slashed school funding and jeopardized critical services.
The budget didn’t get any easier from there, but we signed up for a tough job, and Iowans expect us to take on those difficult tasks.
Vice President Biden is often quoted in this chamber for saying, “Show me your budget and I’ll show you your priorities.”
True words… and in the face of budget shortfalls, I am proud that Iowans can see our priorities.
They will see that above all, we are investing in our children’s education. They will see that we are investing in public safety. They will see that we are investing in our middle class through workforce training and our incredible community colleges.
We came here to give Iowans a better deal, and we delivered.
In education, we dedicated $40 million in additional money to K-12 education at a time when the budget is shrinking.
For the first time in years, the conversation on education expanded beyond the school aid number. One-size does not fit all for our communities and their schools. We listened to school districts and gave them flexibility to use their funds to address their specific needs. We empowered them to enact policies that fit their needs and to innovate by giving schools home rule authority.
Thanks to the work we have done here, those in our communities and those in the classroom are being empowered to offer our children the world-class education they deserve.
The taxpayers of Iowa got a better deal this year. With collective bargaining reform their tax dollars can be used more effectively. Good employees can be rewarded, we will no longer make the taxpayers of Iowa responsible for collecting unions dues, and taxpayers will no longer be treated like an unlimited source of income for salaries and benefits.
This is just the start of a conversation however. Our tax system is overbearing, over-complicated, and uncompetitive. Our top personal income tax rate is the fourth highest in the country. Our corporate income tax rate is the highest in the nation.
Iowans deserve a better deal!
We should put everything on the table and focus on reform that makes our tax system fairer and simpler.
How about this for a better deal? Less tax breaks for the few and well-connected, and in its place lower taxes for all Iowans!
I am committed to making Iowa the best place to raise a family and grow a business. I know those are shared goals in this chamber.
Now for a few thanks yous…
First of all, I want to thank the House Republican caucus – All session long you had the resilience to step up and do what is right for our state. It’s an honor to be a part of your caucus and I thank you for trusting me as your Speaker.
Thank you to the Leadership team: Matt, Zach, Jarad, John, Megan, and Mike. I appreciate all the work that you do to serve our caucus.
Majority Leader Hagenow – Thank you for all of your work this year. Many of the bold reforms and initiatives that we took on this session would not have been possible without your unwavering commitment to the State of Iowa. I appreciate both your leadership as well as your friendship.
Minority Leader Smith – thank you for working with us when you could. Though there are issues we may never agree on, we do take your input seriously and try to work with you when we can.
Thank you to the leadership staff: Tony, Colin, Zach, Liddy and Terri.
And, in my opinion, the premier caucus staff in the building – the House Republican Caucus staff: Jeff, Brad, Lew, Jason, Kristi, Amanda, Carrie, Brittany, Mackenzie and Ashley. Thank you for your hard work and the timely and reliable information you provide day in and day out.
To Rachel, who has sat by my side all session as the Speaker’s page, thank you for keeping me focused during debate and for all of your work this year. Thank you to the Katie as well, who has done an equally fantastic job this session.
Thank you to our legislative pages this year, who I’m confident all have very bright futures ahead.
Chief Clerk Boal, thank you to both you and your staff. The work you all do is never given the amount of appreciation it deserves, but without all of you, this place would not operate as efficiently as it does.
Thank you to the LSA staff for all of your hard work. Especially the time and effort put in by each of you over these past few weeks.
Thank you to President Whitver and Majority Leader Dix. It’s nice to finally have a partner in the Senate that shares a bold, break the status quo vision for the State of Iowa. It’s an honor to lead this General Assembly with both of you.
A special thank you to Governor Branstad. Your decades of service to the people of Iowa have prepared you for your next assignment as Ambassador to China. While Iowans will be losing a tremendous leader, Americans will be well served with you leading our diplomatic efforts in China.
And finally, I want to thank and congratulate Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds as you ascend into the Governor’s office. I look forward to working with you next session to move Iowa forward
Iowans can be proud of this session and the work we accomplished this year.
Now, let’s go home, listen, and lay the foundation for another great session next year!
Thank you all for your work this year!
Below is the transcript of closing remarks from House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights):
Thank you, Madam Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen of the House.
Each year, we convene at the Statehouse to do the work of the people. Our constituents send us here to be their voice and make Iowa a better place to live, work, and raise a family. They expect us to work hard, work together, and move our state forward. The people of this great state do not send us here to maintain and protect the status quo.
This session, House Republicans did what we said we would do. We listened, we made adjustments, and most importantly, we let the legislative process work. We advanced bold legislation that balances the scales in a number of areas and creates greater opportunities for all Iowans.
Before this session even began, House Republicans were hard at work on managing what would be a difficult budget year. Slower than anticipated revenue growth presented a challenge, but we have once again passed a balanced budget that funds the priority needs of Iowans. I am proud of all of the hard work and long hours many of you invested in crafting the budget bills we passed this week. You were handed a difficult task, and, as always, you did an outstanding job.
In my opening day remarks, I spoke about empowering Iowa’s business and industry by freeing our economy from over-regulation. In light of the state’s current fiscal situation, this is more important than ever and I believe we did a lot to accomplish that this session.
This year, with a new majority in the Senate, House Republicans were able to make significant progress to defend unborn life. I am proud to lead a pro-life caucus that uniformly believes every life is worth protecting.
Each session, I am reminded just how many people it takes to keep this building open and functioning. There are so many people who play an important role and deserve thanks for everything they do.
For me personally, some of the most memorable experiences for me this session will never appear in the journal, were not debated on the floor, and will go unnoticed by many. Through triumph and tragedy, some of the finest people I have ever known have sacrificed and persevered to continue doing the work of the people of Iowa.
No words in a speech will ever express my gratitude for Zach and Liddy. I have been truly blessed to go on this journey with you.
Madam Speaker, thank you for guiding us through another successful session. Your leadership has been invaluable. To the House Republican caucus, thank you for giving me the privilege of serving as your leader this year. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life.
My wife Amanda is the one worthy of the most appreciation and praise. Thank you to Owen, Noah and Sophia for their love and encouragement. Together, you have made everything possible this year.
Thank you Madam Speaker.