On Monday morning, Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, House Majority Leader Matt Windschiltl, R-Missouri Valley, and Speaker Pro-Tem John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, gave opening remarks for the 2020 legislative session of the Iowa House of Representatives.
Below is the transcript of Grassley’s remarks after he was elected and sworn in as Speaker of the Iowa House:
Ladies and gentlemen of the House, thank you all for being here today. It is such an incredible honor and privilege to be up here today and I am truly humbled to serve as your Speaker in this historic chamber.Before I go any further, there are some special people that I need to express my appreciation for. Amanda, Indee, Reagan, and Chancellor… It means a lot to have you all here today.
I want to thank each of you for the sacrifices that you make that allow me to serve the people of Iowa and House District 50. I also want to thank the House Republican majority for putting your faith in me to lead the caucus and tackle the issues that Iowans expect us to.
Majority Leader Windschitl, I am excited to serve alongside you and look forward to what we will accomplish this session.
Minority Leader Prichard, I am sure that Republicans and Democrats will have disagreements this session. But I want you to know that our door is open to bipartisan cooperation and we value input from your members.
This session, I want to show Iowans that we are not like our counterparts in Washington DC … that when there are opportunities to work together, we actually do work together. Much of the work we do here is bipartisan, but unfortunately, it’s the very few controversial issues that grab headlines. I want this body to demonstrate that when we come to Des Moines, we are here to address the issues that Iowans have brought to us.
Since we were last in session, I have had the opportunity to travel around the state and hear from Iowans of all backgrounds.
From New Hartford to Fort Dodge … Bettendorf to Malvern … Iowans are upbeat and pleased about the direction of our state. And who can blame them? As Iowans, we have a lot to be proud of.
Funding for our K-12 schools has never been higher, Iowa’s graduation rate tops the nation, and student achievement ranks among the best in the country. Our unemployment has held at record lows for months, consistently among the best in the nation, and wages for middle class Iowans are rising.
While so many of these things are positive, we can’t ignore the challenges that lie ahead.
Iowa’s economy is growing but employers are desperately in need of skilled workers. To ensure that growth continues, our job is twofold… First, we must help Iowans enter the workforce and make it easier for them to climb the ladder towards a rewarding and fulfilling career. Second, ensuring that Iowa’s businesses, regardless of size or geographic location, have a pipeline of skilled, talented workers to fill open jobs.
Future Ready Iowa is already making a difference … attacking the skills gap with the help of the Last Dollar Scholarship program. But that isn’t enough and we must continue our efforts, not only by building a skilled workforce, but by attracting and retaining top talent to the state. Workforce should be our number one priority this session.
One of the major issues that contributes to Iowa’s workforce shortage is child care, an area where I believe we can find bipartisan agreement. Oftentimes, a parent is forced out the workforce … not by choice, but out of necessity … because childcare is either unavailable or unaffordable. Unfortunately, at times, some Iowans are hesitant to accept a raise or promotion at work for fear of losing their childcare assistance … this is what most of us know as the cliff effect.
House Republicans want parents and families to grow and thrive without the need for government support.
Additionally, our Community Colleges can play a major role in ensuring a quality workforce by training the next generation of childcare providers.
This session, this chamber should actively work to decrease childcare costs for families, improve access to providers, and create an off-ramp for Iowans who want to advance in their careers and phase out their need for government assistance. This is an issue that impacts each of our districts where both parties in this chamber can work together to find solutions.
Another issue that often restricts our workforce is the lack of high-speed internet in some parts of the state. A reliable internet connection isn’t just to play video games or stream television. It’s critical for both employers and workers. Small businesses are increasingly dependent on quality broadband to receive orders, process transactions, and innovate. Additionally, the internet has made it possible for more Iowans to work from home when their employer is halfway across the state. In a tight labor market, increasing these opportunities may be a way to ease some of the pressure.
We need to be creative and purposeful to find new solutions. This session, we should work with stakeholders to spur growth and expand reliable, high-speed broadband service to underserved parts of our state.
Lastly, I’m not going to end this speech without talking about the state budget. Our reserve accounts are full … we have a healthy ending balance … we’ve made smart investments in priorities like K-12 schools, workforce training, and public safety … all while lessening the tax burden on hard-working Iowa families and small businesses.
Over the last nine years, House Republicans have changed the culture of budgeting in Des Moines. Crafting a budget and spending taxpayer money is hard work. But I have got to say, House Republicans often make it look easy, and I’m not just saying that as the former Appropriations Chair. I am incredibly proud of the discipline and restraint that this caucus has shown over the years.
As we move forward this session, we will once again pass a conservative budget that funds our priorities in a responsible way. House Republicans will continue to exemplify the strong leadership on the state budget that Iowans expect.
Over the next 100 days, maybe less if Representative Hein has his way, let’s make sure that we show Iowans that we are not like Washington DC. Less partisan games … Less political theater … More results for Iowans. Let’s strengthen Iowa’s workforce and improve our education system. Let’s make health care more affordable and pass a responsible budget that puts taxpayers first.
Representative Windschitl, Representative Prichard, members of the Iowa House … Let’s work together and move Iowa forward.
Below is the transcript of Windschitl’s remarks:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, good morning Mr. Speaker and good morning ladies and gentlemen of the Iowa House.
First and foremost, I must express my deepest gratitude to my wife, Ivelisse, and our daughters, Anna and Addy, for the support they give me and the sacrifices they must endure for me to serve in public office.
I would also like to thank your loved ones who are here today as well as back home, who make similar sacrifices that allow each of you to serve. For we all know, that without the support systems we have back home and the constituents who elect us, none of us would be able to do this job, nor endure the burden it places on each and every one of us. So, to all of our families and our constituents, I say a heartfelt thank you!
I also need to thank my Republican colleagues for choosing me to serve as the Majority Leader of the Iowa House. It is truly humbling and a great honor!
If you had asked the doe-eyed young freshman who walked into this chamber 14 years ago if I ever thought I would be serving in this role, the answer would have been a “hard no”.
I stand here now, all these years later, ready to serve the Iowa House Republican caucus and the great state of Iowa in my role as House Majority Leader.
To Speaker Upmeyer and Majority Leader Hagenow I want you both to know how grateful I am for your years of leadership and service. You have both taught me many things and helped me grow as a legislator and a leader, thank you! It is without question that Speaker Grassley and I have some big shoes to fill and I welcome your continued advice and counsel this session.
As the Majority Leader my intentions are to listen to the caucus, hear the concerns of the people of Iowa, and translate their ideas into the best public policy possible during this session.
My sincere hope is that we can all work together to accomplish this goal. While I know that not every measure brought before this body is going to pass with unanimous support, I would encourage each and every one of us to look for the opportunity to cross the political divide and find common ground.
From the Iowans I’ve spoken with over the last several months, they are constantly disappointed in the dysfunction they see coming from their Federal government in Washington DC.
Fortunately for Iowans, they don’t have to worry about that here at the state level. They have come to expect positive action and results from this body and their state government.
As we move ahead this session, House Republicans will continue to build on the track record of successes that has kept us in the majority here in the Iowa House.
While I could stand here and deliver a message about specific policy pieces that should be accomplished or go over our budgeting principles, again, or give an extensive review of chapter 724, the weapons chapter for those who are wondering, I will instead simplify my message down to one guiding principle that should be at the forefront of every vote we take here this year, Freedom!
Let us strive to find new and ingenuitive ways to make Iowans freer. Free from burdensome government regulations. Free from an overly complex tax system. Free to raise their families and live their lives without the fear of government intrusion. Free to exercise their individual fundamental rights without government sanction or approval. Free to worship the Lord throughout their daily lives as they see fit. Free to provide the best education possible for their children. Free from the many hands of government reaching into their pocket for yet one more dollar of their hard-earned money.
Yes, Iowa is in a great place financially, economically, educationally, and by many other metrics, but our work is not done. I guarantee you there is more freedom to be found for our constituents if we only apply ourselves and look.
Iowans deserve a government that works for them, not against them. If we as the Iowa House of Representatives hold the principles of freedom and liberty high and use them as the balance and the scales by which we judge the proposals before us, then Iowans will have the state government they need and deserve.
We have work to do, now let us get to it.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the Iowa House.
Below is the transcript of Wills’ opening remarks after being elected and sworn in as Speaker Pro Tem of the Iowa House.
Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House… First, I want to thank you for your willingness to serve your fellow Iowans. You have each made sacrifices to be here and it is an honor to serve with you in this Chamber. It is an even greater honor to serve you, my colleagues, as the Speaker Pro Tem. I want to also thank my constituents back home who have provided me with the opportunity to represent them these past 5 years.
Before I go much further, there are some very special people that I must thank because they make tremendous sacrifices so that I can serve here in Des Moines. They are my wife, Cami, and our three children, Seth, Wes, and Mariah. I have missed events, been gone when something broke down, and forgotten more than I should because of the commitment to being a legislator. They deserve a huge thank you from me.
Each of us in this chamber have different priorities and desires that our constituents have sent us here for. I look forward to working with each one of you to accomplish these priorities in a bipartisan fashion. There will be times that we don’t agree with one another, but we all understand that our shared goal is to make the lives of our fellow Iowans better. My hope is that we are able serve the people of Iowa with a government that is smaller and smarter.
Regardless where you stand on many of the issues that we will address this session, we have a solemn responsibility to work through those issues and bring a just conclusion to our citizens. My goal as a legislator, as is many of you, is to wisely spend the taxpayer’s dollar, provide efficiency of government services, advance our freedoms and liberties, and ensure our government works for the people, not the other way around.
May God bless each of you and the Great State of Iowa! Thank you for your attention and let’s get to business.