Below are the open remarks provided by Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake), House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow (R-Urbandale), and Speaker Pro Tem Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) as prepared by delivery.
Below is the transcript of Upmeyer’s remarks:
Good morning and welcome back to the Iowa House of Representatives.
The first day of session is always something I look forward to.
It is a day full of optimism and enthusiasm, surrounded by family and friends.
I am thankful to my husband, Doug, for being so supportive while I am away from home, serving in Des Moines.
Sara and Chad… I also want to thank you for being here and for bringing Cooper and Claire to share in today’s events.
It means so much to have my family’s support.
This year we are welcoming 22 brand new legislators.
And with fresh faces come fresh ideas.
I am excited to hear what you have learned from your districts as you met on doorsteps, at the local coffee shops, or at the grocery store.
I also hope you all had some time to catch your breath and relax in the time since the elections concluded.
The legislative session will keep us very busy.
Over the summer, I had an opportunity to visit the Reagan Library and learn more about a man who I have always admired.
President Reagan was a tremendous leader, and much of that could be attributed to the ways he was able to communicate the positive ideals and vision of America to its people.
He believed in the limitless potential of the people of this great country.
As I walked through the halls of the library, I saw one of my favorite quotes from President Reagan…
“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
This is something that would serve us well as we do our work.
During my time in the Iowa House, legislators have come and gone and issues have varied.
I have been a part of divided government, as well as one-party control under both Republicans and Democrats.
However, during all these changes, one thing has remained constant…
After the election, no matter who is in charge, Iowans expect us to move beyond the partisan gamesmanship and govern.
We have listened to Iowans, heard their priorities, and now, it is time to act.
An issue that comes up consistently is the topic of health care.
Last session, I was proud to see Republicans and Democrats come together and pass a landmark mental health bill that will help Iowans access treatment in their home communities and near their loved ones.
Now that we have made progress in the adult mental health system, let’s see what we can do for our young people.
I want to thank Governor Reynolds for bringing together mental health professionals and advocates to identify opportunities for improvement.
Representatives Lundgren and Fry have already begun reviewing these ideas and we look forward to working together to find solutions.
Additionally, we must continue to make the Medicaid system work better for the vulnerable Iowans served by the program as well as those who provide necessary services.
Managed care is a strategy that more than 40 other states have used for years to improve health outcomes , create stability, and ensure sustainability of the program.
There is no reason that we can’t be successful as well.
We passed strong oversight and accountability, and it is written into the contracts.
It is time we accept that we cannot go back to the old system, that managed care is here to stay, and we must move forward focused on improvement, outcomes, and success.
It must also be a priority to ensure Iowa’s kids are ready for college or a career after graduation.
Iowa families want a first-class education system because they know that a great education is the key to a great life.
Funding for education has increased 765 million dollars since 2011.
That is significant … and we are proud of these historic investments in Iowa’s future.
But we must be vigilant to ensure that those dollars are making their way into the classroom, and being spent in a transparent and accountable way.
We must continue to provide flexibility to our schools …
empowering them to make decisions that fit their communities and their schools.
And it’s not just families… Iowa’s employers are depending on our schools to prepare the next generation of skilled workers.
We have already seen amazing buy-in from our K-12s, community colleges, and business community to provide students with first-hand, real-world job experience.
Let’s continue building on these efforts.
I am also excited to focus on ways we can revitalize rural Iowa.
How many of you have had a conversation with a rural employer who says they can’t hire because there simply are not enough homes available for new employees?
How many of you have talked with a young Iowan who loves their small town but doesn’t see enough opportunity to stay?
How many of you have heard from entrepreneurs that they can’t start a business in our small towns because they lack access to the high-speed internet that is necessary in today’s economy?
Maybe it’s an employee who has the ability to telecommute and work from home but is hampered by unreliable internet speeds.
Development and growth should not be limited to Iowa’s largest cities and counties.
Whether it is expansion of broadband, more opportunities for affordable housing, or encouraging investment in small businesses, we must be intentional in our efforts to push more opportunities to rural Iowa.
Our rural communities are not merely a part of our past, they are the foundation of our future.
As we convene this 88th Iowa General Assembly, remember that you are here to make a difference and better our state for the people we serve.
As Speaker of this chamber, my commitment is to be fair, be honest with you, and ensure that this body functions efficiently and in a transparent manner.
In return, I expect the body to do its work in a respectful and civil way.
We will have our disagreements, but at the end of the day, we are all here to serve our constituents.
Representative Hagenow, Representative Prichard, members of the Iowa House… let’s get to work.
Below is the transcript of Hagenow’s remarks:
Thank you Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House. It is an honor to welcome you, your families and friends back to the Statehouse to begin the 88th General Assembly.
Speaker Upmeyer, the House of Representatives continues to be blessed by your leadership and it is an honor to serve alongside you.
To my Republican colleagues, thank you for the trust you have placed in me by electing me to serve as your leader. I am excited for what we will be able to accomplish together.
To our new members, congratulations and welcome. While this may be your first time swearing the oath of office that others in this body have sworn many times, each member brings unique ideas, perspective, and experiences – all of which help shape the laws and direction of our state. I look forward to your service.
Leader Pritchard, congratulations on your new role. I look forward to working with you and your caucus. Last General Assembly, over 88% of the bills we passed were bipartisan. I am hopeful we can move that number even higher.
My most important thank you goes to my team at home – my wife, Amanda, and our three children, Owen, Noah and Sophia.
From our work last General Assembly, families and small businesses now keep more of their hard-earned money, schools have record funding and greater flexibility, more Iowans have access to affordable health care, gaps in our mental health system are closing, and workers are accessing innovative training for 21st Century careers.
I have been asked many times, “so much was accomplished the last two years, what’s next?”
While the specifics of “what’s next” will be brought forward through all one-hundred members introducing legislation and ideas and working them through the process, what Iowans can and should expect is this: House Republicans will remain unwavering in our principals.
We will pass a budget that is both fiscally responsible and funds the priority needs of Iowans. Iowans expect us to be responsible stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars, and we will always keep the taxpayers of Iowa in mind through the budget process.
We continue to hear from employers across Iowa that the availability of a skilled workforce is their biggest challenge to growing their businesses. Connecting our K-12 schools with community colleges and local businesses will help assemble the workforce of tomorrow.
Future Ready Iowa is a key part of the solution. We want to continue building off of last year’s bipartisan efforts, and look forward to working with Governor Reynolds and the Senate to take the next step forward.
House Republicans are going to continue to protect and advance our freedoms. Freedom from unnecessary government regulations and overreach into our lives. Freedom for parents to choose the educational setting for their children. Freedom for gun owners, as the right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in our state constitution.
Also, House Republicans will be unapologetic in our fight to protect unborn life.
The people of Iowa have entrusted Republicans with a governing majority in this chamber, in the Senate and in the Governor’s office. It is our responsibility to once again challenge the status quo. It is our task here to continue charting a new course for a brighter future.
May God continue to bless us, our citizens and the great State of Iowa. Thank you Madam Speaker.
Below is the transcript of Windschitl’s remarks:
Ladies and gentlemen of the 88th General Assembly thank you for your willingness to serve your fellow Iowans. The sacrifices you have made to get here and that you will continue to make over your time serving Iowans will not go unnoticed. It is an honor to serve my constituents as their voice in this grand chamber. It is an additional honor to serve you, my colleagues as the Speaker Pro Tem. So thank you to all who have provided me this humbling opportunity. I would be remiss if I did not thank my three biggest supporters back home, my wife Ivelisse and our two daughters Anna and Addy for it is our families who truly feel the brunt of the sacrifices we make to serve. So thank you ladies.
While the campaigns were challenging and at times uncertain for many, they are behind us now. The great people of Iowa chose the one hundred of us to work together on their behalf. So let us look forward to what we can accomplish and leave behind campaign rhetoric and divisiveness. While we may not always agree on every policy point we can still work together to craft the best public policy for all Iowans.
Each new session brings with it its own challenges and I look forward to working with each of you to overcome those challenges. The opportunities we have before us to make generational changes should not be taken lightly or passed by. We have the tools at our disposal to make the future better and brighter for generations to come. We also need to remember that the seats in which we sit are not ours, they are borrowed from the constituents who elect us, so let us use our time wisely.
As we move forward in this new General Assembly I would like us to remember that more government is not the answer. I firmly believe that we should be looking for ways to allow our constituents more freedoms and less government. More individual responsibility and opportunity. Less government bureaucracy and burdensome regulations. For true freedom is not really freedom if it must first be sanctioned by government. So let us look for ways to get the government off of our constituents backs and out of their pocketbooks.
Let us continue to improve on the investments in education and expand opportunities for the next generations. Let us restore God-given freedoms and liberties that should have never been regulated away and let us also protect them for generations to come. Let us recognize the gift of life and protect it at every stage. Let us spend the taxpayers dollar wisely and efficiently and when not needed return it to the taxpayer. Let our challenge be to ensure once the final gavel falls that Iowans have more freedoms, have more liberties and their government works for them.
May God bless you all and God bless the great state of Iowa! Now let’s get to work.