Opening Day Remarks of Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver

Below are the opening day remarks of Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, as prepared for delivery:

Mister President and colleagues of the Senate, 

The 2022 legislative session provides exciting opportunities for us as we continue our work to make Iowa the best state in the country – the best state to live, the best state to work, and the best state to raise your family. Recently, Iowa was rated as one of the best states for opportunity. We were named the state in the strongest position to withstand the Covid pandemic and we were also named the fastest state to recover from it. After 5 years of a Republican trifecta, Iowa’s success is no longer subjective – it’s objective.

In the five years since Republicans have had the majority in the Iowa Senate, we have enacted legislation to help Iowa grow and make the state better for those who call it home. The priority being tax relief for those hard-working people who make our state the great place it is. After implementing conservative, responsible budgeting practices, we passed truly historic income tax relief and we have continued to pass tax relief measures every year. We started as one of the states with the highest, most complicated income taxes in the country. Even after the measures we have taken, we have more work to do.

In a post pandemic economy, the competition is fierce for jobs and citizens. If policy makers want this state to grow, then we must be on the list of states with the lowest income tax in America. 

Census data from 2021 was released recently and it showed a dark picture for states with high tax rates, punitive regulations, and regular lockdowns. Look no farther than east of the Mississippi river to see a state lose more than 140,000 residents last year. High taxes, closed schools, and an oppressive government chase residents to other states. Just like Illinois, California and New York have all had a net loss of hundreds of thousands of residents. People are voting with their feet and with their wallets. They are moving to low tax, pro freedom states.

In an increasingly competitive and fluid economy, we must improve Iowa’s competitive advantage to attract new residents and create new career opportunities. We started down that path in 2017 by implementing sound, reliable, and sustainable budgets and maintained that discipline each year. We continued in 2018 by passing the largest income tax cut in Iowa history. In 2019 we approved property tax transparency and in 2021 we accelerated the 2018 tax cuts and eliminated a property tax levy.  All of that work has set the stage for another significant reduction in the income tax rates. 

We have almost a billion dollars in the rainy day funds. Another billion in the taxpayer trust fund. Another billion dollar projected surplus in this current budget year, and a huge structural surplus as we brought in almost a billion dollars more than we spent this year. 

In short, our policies are working and that success has led to an overcollection of taxes on hard working Iowans. When Republicans collect too much of your hard earned dollars, we will keep our promise to give it back. We must return that money to taxpayers in the form of major, permanent pro-growth tax reform. Iowans deserve a simpler, more transparent, and more competitive tax code. 

It is more important now than ever for Iowans to keep what they earn and be motivated to join the workforce so our economy can continue to grow. Cutting taxes is not only good for the hard-working Iowans who earned it, but also for small businesses paying that same rate. They have more money to invest and build their business. More money to reward employees with higher wages, attract new customers, and expand their opportunities. It makes Iowa more competitive with the states around us, and a more attractive place to live.

One of my colleagues has already been quoted as saying we are looking at building a 21st century model for our tax code, and that there is no reason we should settle for mediocrity. The tax code should not punish Iowans for wanting more in life, trying to provide more for your family, or getting a promotion at work. 

In addition to tax relief, Iowans from nearly every sector of the economy are looking for solutions to the demand for workforce. I would propose instead of creating another government program to fix a government-created problem, we get government out of the way and empower Iowans to solve the problem. Let’s make it easier to open and operate a child care facility in Iowa so Iowa parents who want to return to the workforce, can. Let’s eliminate outdated licensing requirements and make sure someone with the necessary training and skills can get to work sooner, without government-imposed delays. Let’s ensure Iowa’s public assistance programs are there for the truly needy and not a lifestyle option for healthy, capable Iowans. Let’s improve the tangible incentive to work by reducing income taxes on all Iowans. 

I am proud to be the leader of this caucus and proud of the accomplishments we have made so far. I am most proud because we deliver on the promises we make to Iowans. Promises like sustainable budgets, reliable funding for education, empowering parents in their children’s education and supporting law enforcement. 

We will not stop now. The Senate Republican agenda for this session is tax relief for Iowans, and we do not intend to waste the opportunity we have here with one-time checks. We are here to deliver real, permanent tax reform to give employers and families the confidence to know their work and investments will be worth the risk. 

You have all heard me say we shouldn’t be just thinking and working for next year, but for the next generation of Iowans, and the next generation after that. Nothing we do here is just for today. 

Colleagues, we begin the 2022 session with Iowa in the strongest position we have ever been. The 5 years of hard work, leadership by many of you in this room, and the patience for our policies to work, has given us a tremendous opportunity.

When given an opportunity, we must deliver. We must keep our promises to the voters who send us to the capitol. Promises that ensure that the next generation of Iowans is better off than we are. 

Few policies have shown more long-term growth impact than significant, permanent income tax cuts. Implementing pro-growth tax policy to make Iowa one of the fastest growing states in the country is policy that makes a generational difference. 

It is great to see everyone back at the Capitol. Let’s get to work. 

Opening Day Remarks of Senate President Jake Chapman

Below are the opening day remarks of Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, as prepared for delivery:

Friends, family, colleagues, and to our newly-elected Senator, it is my honor to welcome you to the 2022 legislative session. I have always enjoyed the first day of session.  It’s a time in which friends and colleagues are reunited, hope and excitement flourishes, and optimism for the future resonates. 

Colleagues, the time has come for us to take a stand. It has become increasingly evident that we live in a world in which many, including our media, wish to confuse, misguide, and deceive us, calling good evil and evil good. One doesn’t have to look far to see the sinister agenda occurring right before our eyes. The attack on our children is no longer hidden.  Those who wish to normalize sexually deviant behavior against our children, including pedophilia and incest, are pushing this movement more than ever before.  Our children should be safe and free from this atrocious assault. Our students should be learning about science, and mathematics; they should be learning about engineering and innovation. Instead, some teachers are disguising sexually obscene material as desired subject matter and profess it has artistic and literary value. The literature being pushed on our students should disturb all of us and if you aren’t disturbed, I can only hope it is because you have not actually heard or seen the content.  Nobody, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or occupation has the right to expose children to obscene material. It is for that reason that this body should use this session to address this very issue. 

When students are subjected to this violating content, we need to ensure parents have the ability to protect their children by removing them from the district.  We can and must tear down the financial barriers that prevent parents from making this decision.  We must hold those who distribute this repulsive and criminal content to minors accountable. Let us not forget the quote on the first floor of this capitol which reads “nothing is politically right that is morally wrong.” In other words, we can’t be right by doing the wrong thing, and doing the right thing can never be wrong. 

Since 1973 nearly 70 million Americans have had their voices silenced. Their lives were taken in the so-called name of “choice.” We have courageously stood for and defended those who could not defend themselves. I am proud of the work done by this body to give a voice to the voiceless. As the United States Supreme Court takes up this important issue, we will stand ready to take whatever steps necessary to defend the dignity of life. 

Colleagues, because of your dedication to being fiscally responsible, we come into this legislative session with our economic reserves totally full.  Our revenues are at a historic all time high, and our ending fund balances are flourishing. This economic prosperity has come from sound fiscal policies and reducing taxes on Iowans.  When individual economic freedoms abound, economic prosperity follows. Yet, let’s not forget that there will be some who wish to spend this money on expanding government; our focus must be to return these dollars to the rightful owners – the taxpayers. Now is the time to take a bold stand. We have come a long way in reducing taxes on Iowans but it’s not enough. Let’s keep our eyes set on the total elimination of income taxes. Now is the time for action, now is the time to be bold! We cannot allow another year to go by sitting on the sidelines, while other states are aggressively reducing taxes.  This is the year to take action!

Lastly, may we always remember that the work we do here in this building will impact the lives of millions of Iowans and future generations to come. Let’s make 2022 a year to look back on with humility and thanksgiving for the bold stand we took to give greater freedom and liberty to Iowans, where we stood for parental choice in education, where we lifted the crushing weight of tax burdens on Iowans, and where we stood for what is right, even among those who call it wrong. Right is right, all of the time, and wrong is wrong, all of the time.  May this body choose to do what is right.  God has so richly blessed and prospered our state, may we recognize Him and His hand in all we do! May He continue to bless our great state and may He bless each of you throughout this session!

Closing Comments from Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver

Mr. President, 

It is a tradition at the beginning of each legislative session for the Senate Majority Leader to lay out the vision for the upcoming session. In January I talked about the need to give parents an option to send their students to school for in-person learning and for us to continue our focus on creating a tax and regulatory environment to encourage work and investment. Policies designed to make this state a premier location in this country to work and raise a family.

Parents across the state were seeing their children struggle to stay engaged with remote learning. It quickly became apparent the quality of education through a screen just is not the same as education in person. The emails from frustrated parents began to trickle into our email boxes. The trickle became a stream and the stream a river. Parents knew their children needed to have a regular schedule of education and they needed the legislature to help.

The Education Committee quickly developed policy to implement a shared priority with the House of Representatives and the governor to give parents the option to send their children to school full time. Data from Iowa and across the country showed the deterioration of the academic performance of K-12 students. The decline was even worse amongst lower income children. After 9 months or more of intermittent or no in-person schooling, it was time for Iowa students to stop the erosion of their knowledge and skills and begin to recover and advance their education.

Education provides Iowa students the tools they need to compete for the careers of tomorrow in an ever-changing economy. The changes in the economy over the last 15 months highlighted the need for improved broadband service across the state as more and more Iowans worked from home, took classes from home, and even had doctor’s appointments from home. Iowa is ranked as one of the bottom states in the country in connectivity and broadband speeds and that problem needed a solution. Leaders of the Commerce Committee addressed the vital need for improved broadband services across the state with strong policy improvements. That policy was followed up by a $100 million commitment to improve this service.

The $100 million for broadband was made possible in part because of the tough but necessary choices on the state budget over the last four years. For the first two years in the majority Republicans were forced to implement mid-year budget cuts because spending was too high. After those years, the budget is now on solid footing and can sustain not only a global pandemic, but also can create opportunities to build the broadband infrastructure to further economic development in rural Iowa. 

That stable, reliable budget creates opportunities for tax relief and this year the tax relief will be significant. A robust housing market caused property assessments to rise by tens of thousands of dollars in some areas. The Senate responded with a $100 million property tax cut by eliminating the mental health levy and moving funding to the state budget. Uncertainty around the effective date of a major round of income tax cuts was eliminated. This relief will reduce the top rate in Iowa from an uncompetitive 8.53% to a more competitive 6.5%, along with implementing more simplicity into the tax code. This year’s tax cut package totals over $1 billion over the next 8 years. It also allows bonus depreciation so farmers and small business can continue to invest in their operations and create more opportunities in this state.

Finally, none of these opportunities will become a reality without the protection of the life and property of Iowans. This year the Senate led on implementing a number of protections for the people who keep us safe. Law enforcement will have protections enshrined in Iowa law for faithfully doing their jobs. They will have legal protections from dangerous and violent offenses against them like maliciously shining laser pointers in their eyes.

This session ran a little longer than normal. But as I’ve said many times, Senate Republicans come to Des Moines to do something, not be someone. We are happy to do the hard work necessary to provide certainty on income tax relief, property tax relief, make sure K-12 students can go to school full time, pass a reliable, sustainable budget, and defend law enforcement.

Iowa is the 2nd fastest state in the country to recover from the pandemic. Iowa has 65,000 job openings and 32,000 people looking for work. Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, great schools, a lowering tax burden, and an outstanding quality of life. 

Iowa is a great place to live and it’s only getting better.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Closing Comments from Senate President Jake Chapman

Mr. Majority Leader, Colleagues, and Fellow Iowans:

Let me begin by congratulating all of you on an incredible legislative session. It is a privilege and an honor to preside over the Senate. I have had the unique opportunity to observe all of you as we debate, discuss, and vote on legislation. In your eyes and facial expressions, I have seen joy, excitement, sorrow, disappointment, and perhaps even anger at times. These emotions are real, and are an outward expression of the love all of you have for our great state and her people.

In my opening day remarks I highlighted – that like the rest of America, Iowa has faced unprecedented times with a global pandemic. “Back to normal” has been the battle cry for many Iowans who want nothing more than to have their rights and liberties restored. I believed then, just as I believe now, that we have and will continue to strive for something much greater than returning to the days of the past. Iowa will have a better tomorrow because of the legislation enacted by this General Assembly.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight just a few of these accomplishments. Iowans can have confidence that with the passage of our election integrity legislation, our elections are safe and secure. We passed legislation that will allow law abiding citizens to exercise their 2nd amendment rights without asking the government for a permission slip. Districts, including Des Moines Public Schools, will no longer have the ability to force students to stay in their failing education system, and with the elimination of these diversity plans, will allow students to pursue a better education elsewhere. Legislation was passed to protect and defend our brave men and women who selflessly serve our communities as law enforcement officers; we are indeed grateful for their sacrifices.  We preserved Iowans’ freedom and ensured they would not be forced to show a covid-19 vaccine card to live out their lives.

Colleagues, we are also leaving this legislative session with a sound fiscal budget. We have learned from years past that overspending does not lead to prosperity but rather enslaves us by chains of indebtedness. Not only did we maintain a fiscally conservative budget, we passed a tax reduction bill of which we should all be proud. This legislation will provide over $1 billion dollars of tax relief over the next eight years. This legislation will provide property tax relief while also ensuring our highest income tax bracket is reduced to 6.5%. Lastly, Iowans will no longer be subjected to the horrible and irresponsible plunder tax known as the inheritance tax. 

I recently read a quote by Solon found near the stairwell on the 2nd floor of this beautiful capitol. The quote reads as follows,”The ideal state – that in which an injury done to the least of its citizens is an injury done to all.” Perhaps the greatest accomplishments are when we are able to protect those who are particularly vulnerable and who have been victimized by others. I was honored to run the legislation to lift the statutes of limitation for criminal prosecution for those who violate children. This law lifted the arbitrary deadline for victims to come forward in telling their story and seeking justice. One brave individual, Kimberly Gleason, courageously spent day after day sharing her story, educating, and advocating for this legislation. “Kimberly’s Law” will undoubtedly help countless individuals into the future and is a great example that the power of one is limitless. Colleagues, more can and will need to be done to protect our children!

It was also necessary for this body to correct a feckless and negligent judicial decision that aimed to re-write our constitution. When our courts usurp “the people” by using the power of the gavel to rewrite our constitution, this legislature will take action. The Senate and House came together to propose a constitutional amendment that will reassert that it is “the people” of Iowa, not unelected judges who will ultimately decide what changes our constitution will undergo.   

Colleagues, we leave this legislative session with much optimism, optimism that we made a difference and optimism for a promising future. Though more work is needed, we can be assured that Iowans will wake to a much brighter tomorrow because of the work and sacrifice of this general assembly. May God continue to richly bless our great state and her people.

Senate Passes Income, Property, and Small Business Tax Cuts

The Iowa Senate passed SF 619, a broad agreement to reduce the tax burden in Iowa. This bill passed with bi-partisan support, 29-15. It now goes to the House of Representatives for their consideration. The bill is expected to save taxpayers over $1 billion over the next 8 years. 

“Today, the Iowa Senate made Iowa more competitive. Reducing the top income tax rate to 6.5% means Iowa families will keep more of the money they earn. Lower income tax rates make this state more attractive to small business and people looking for a new home,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R – Ankeny. “Phasing out the inheritance tax ends the unjust practice of taxing the dead. Eliminating the mental health levy finally provides actual property tax relief for Iowans. Iowans asked for tax relief and the Iowa Senate has answered those calls.” 

“Senate Republicans promised bold tax reform when the session started in January and this bill delivered,” said Senator Dan Dawson, R – Council Bluffs, chair of the Ways and Means Committee. “This bill includes eliminating the tax triggers, eliminating the inheritance tax, provides tax relief for small business, and provides tax cuts for Iowa families. Senate File 619 is the tax bill Iowans deserve and I am proud to have it pass the Iowa Senate.”

Senate Passes $100 Million Property Tax Cut

Today, the Iowa Senate passed Senate File 587 reforming the state’s mental health system and reducing property taxes.  The bill passed 30-17.

“Tax relief continues to be a goal of the Senate Republicans,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. “I have said, as long as I am Majority Leader, tax relief will be part of the Senate agenda. Senate File 587 delivers on that promise. Not only does it provide real property tax relief, it also delivers increased funding to mental health services in Iowa.”

Over a period of years, the bill moves mental health funding from local property taxes to state funding. It also eliminates property tax levies, and phases out the backfill to local governments.

“Republicans are elected to enact bold reforms, and this is one of those reforms,” said Senator Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs. “It cuts property taxes for Iowans by over $100 million, dedicates sustainable and consistent funding for mental health, and removes the triggers put into place by the 2018 tax bill to ensure real tax relief for Iowans.”

Senate Republicans Release Budget Targets

Today, Senate Republicans released their Fiscal Year 2022 budget targets. The total spending for FY 2022 is $7.999 billion, an increase of $195 million from Fiscal Year 2021, and represents spending 94% of available revenue. The targets budget for the elimination of the triggers in the 2018 tax bill, effective January 1, 2023, the phasing out of the inheritance tax, and significant property tax relief.

“For four years Republicans have been managing the state budget in the same way Iowans manage the family budget,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Ft. Dodge, “This budget provides reliable, sustainable increases in K-12 education, funds significant increases to public safety, including a $4 million increase for correctional officers, and a $60 million increase in mental health funding.”

“As I say frequently, as long as I am leader and Republicans are in the majority in the Senate, we will work toward tax relief for working families,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. “This budget keeps the promise our members made to Iowans to reduce taxes on Iowa families, small businesses, and farmers by accounting for the removal of the triggers, phasing out the inheritance tax, and over $100 million in property tax relief. Iowans can remain confident the promises made by Senate Republicans are kept.”  

Overview of tax relief provisions included in Senate Republican budget targets:

  • Elimination of the revenue triggers in the 2018 tax cut. 
  • Elimination of the mental health levy on property taxes.
  • Elimination of the inheritance tax.

Overview of FY 2022 increases in Senate Republican budget targets:

  • Education funding increases over $80 million including:
    • An increase of $55.3 million for K-12 education.
    • An increase of $25 million for higher education including additional dollars for Last Dollar Scholarships.
  •  Healthcare funding increases of $98.1 million including:
    • An increase of $15 million for provider increases for nursing homes and home and community-based service providers.
    • An increase of $60 million for mental health services. Over the next 2 years the state will provide over $125 million for mental health services.
  • Public safety funding increases of $13 million including:
    • An increase of almost $5 million for the Department of Public Safety. 
    • An increase of just over $4.0 million for the Department of Corrections.
  • One time expenditures for broadband are not included in these targets.

Senate Republicans Advance Permanent, Reliable Tax Relief for Iowans

Today, the Iowa Senate passed SF 576 to eliminate the triggers in place restraining significant tax relief and tax simplification for Iowans and provides a certain effective date of January 1, 2023. This bill also eliminates the inheritance tax in Iowa over a period of three years.

“SF 576 provides Iowans with permanent and certain tax relief and keeps our promise to Iowans to reduce their tax burden,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. “One stimulus check wears off in a matter of days or weeks. Permanent tax relief gives small businesses and Iowa families confidence to work and invest in this state. It is a long-term pro-growth strategy to expand career opportunities and help Iowans keep more of their hard-earned money. After today’s vote, I look forward to cutting Iowa income taxes even more in the future.”  

“Few functions of government are more immoral than the death tax,” said Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, Chair of Ways and Means. “Iowans pay taxes on their income, their property, their vehicle, their gasoline, and nearly everything they buy for their entire life. Then, after a lifetime of paying taxes, the government arrives and demands another chunk out of the work Iowans have done. I think a lifetime of paying taxes is enough.”

Opening Day Remarks of Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver

Below are the opening day remarks of Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, as prepared for delivery:

Our country was founded on the principles of limited government and individual liberty. Those ideas led to the concept of the American Dream. Since I have been the Majority Leader in the Senate, this chamber has enacted policies to make the American Dream more attainable in Iowa, bring more opportunities for Iowans, and make this state a great place to call home.

For four years now, Republicans have held the majority in the Iowa Senate, giving us the ability to implement an agenda to bring more jobs and more people to our state. We passed historic tax reform for Iowa families, eliminated burdensome rules and regulations for job creators, and put in place responsible budgets setting our state on a sustainable path.

We know the legislation we passed had been working for Iowa and for Iowans. Prior to the pandemic, wages were rising, our state had record low unemployment, and more job openings than Iowans looking for work.

For years we have been saying we need to be responsible and budget conservatively so we can prepare our state for hard times. Last year, our state saw what ‘hard times’ really means. We experienced a virus that threatened the lives and livelihoods of Iowans and their families. We watched some of our favorite businesses in our communities close their doors forever. We went months without seeing loved ones in hopes of keeping them safe. And then, in the midst of already unprecedented times, we watched a massive storm tear through the middle of our state, giving Iowans one more burden to bear.

Despite facing all of these challenges, Iowans never stopped helping each other. Many ate at their favorite local restaurants to support them, and local restaurants helped feed struggling families. Our neighbors volunteered their time to help those in need, whether it was making supplies for health care workers or cleaning up a neighbor’s yard after the storm.

This year we are focused on putting our state back on a path of success and prosperity after all these challenges. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: the best recovery plan is a job. This recovery plan means sticking to those same principles guiding us for the last several years. It means freedom to work. It means continuing our work on tax reform, and putting more money back into the pockets of Iowans. It means ensuring the best education for Iowa students, in the classroom, where they learn best. 

Tax relief is always going to be a priority for me and a priority for this caucus. We have been working to make our state and our tax climate more competitive with other states. While we have made some progress these last few years, we want to continue relieving some of that tax burden on Iowans. Even with our historic tax cuts, Iowa still has some of the highest tax rates in the country. I think, especially right now, it would be hard to find an Iowan who wouldn’t like a little more money in their pocket and a little more savings to fall back on if they need it. Achieving this goal means conservative state spending is just as important as it has been these last four years.

Because of the budgets Republicans have passed since 2017, Iowa was ready and prepared for uncertain economic times. Our state was recognized as one of the most resilient when it comes to our budget. This does not mean we start raiding the surplus and recklessly spending what we have so carefully built up – it means we are prepared if revenues dip again and not enough money is available to keep the promises we made to public safety, health care and education last year. When Iowans face financial struggles, they tighten their belts and live within their means. They expect their government to do the same.

Each year I say we need to look not just to the next year but to the next generation. In my opinion the biggest concern for the next generation is educating students in our public schools. Despite the pandemic, we must not sacrifice the future of our children. We cannot let a generation of kids fall behind in school. Kids learn better when they are in school, in classrooms, in person, instead of in front of a screen. The longer they are out of school, the more their skills deteriorate and the further they fall behind. Test scores this fall showed the negative impacts of students not being in school regularly. At midterm this fall, 37% of students in Iowa City schools were failing at least one class, a number nearly double previous years. A similar decline has occurred in other districts around the state and across the country. By any rationale standard this performance is unacceptable. The futures of Iowa students are built on the education they receive today and if we continue to erode that foundation, none of us should be surprised when their opportunities begin to crumble.

Our focus will be on giving parents an option to send their children to school safely. Students need to prepare for whatever lies ahead of them, to recover the ground they have lost over the last 9 months and to restore their future career opportunities.

2020 was extraordinary by any measure. The pandemic and the natural disasters tested Iowans like never before. Challenging times call for strong, principled leadership and the Iowa Senate will continue to deliver results for Iowans. I believe our state is ready to look towards the future, start moving forward, and start our recovery. Now, let’s get to work!

Opening Day Remarks of Senate President Jake Chapman

Below are the opening day remarks of Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, as prepared for delivery:

Friends, family, colleagues, returning and newly-elected members, – It is my humble honor and privilege to welcome you to the 89th General Assembly. As we prepare to tackle the issues and challenges of today may we take a quick moment to reflect on our past. This year, we will celebrate 175 years of Iowa’s statehood.

In 1844 Iowa Territory voters approved Governor Lucas and a governing body to request official statehood status. The State Constitution was then drafted and submitted to Congress for their approval. Included in the Constitution were the proposed state boundaries; Congress approved all of the request but suggested a western border roughly 80 miles east of the Missouri River. Had that requested been agreed to, many western Iowans would now be Nebraskans. Wisely, Iowa voters knew better than Congress, they submitted a second request, and the borders we now know today were approved. May we always remember and maintain our rights as a state against an ever increasingly centralization of power exerted by the federal government.

In our early days, Iowa welcomed well over 70,000 pioneers who trekked through our rolling prairies with an eye set on the west. While many of the pioneers and early settlers continued westward, others ultimately and quite unexpectedly decided to stay in Iowa. One such individual was Edwin Guiberson. Like those in whose wagon trails followed, he had his sights on the gold rush in California. However, upon finding the beauty of Madison County he planted his roots, raised a large family, served in community and government positions, and eventually served in the Iowa House of Representatives in the 3rd and 7th General Assembly. I am proud to be a descendent of this great man and his family; Edwin’s brother, Nathaniel, is my 3rd great-grandfather. I am honored to continue the legacy of our family working towards a greater state.

Iowans have always been willing to sacrifice for current and future generations to have the opportunity to embody our state motto: our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.

When the US entered World War 1, Martin Treptow was an everyday Iowan and a barber from Cherokee. Martin enlisted in the army and by December 1917, his regiment was sent to France to fight in the trenches of the western front.

In July of 1918, a message needed to be delivered during an intense battle against the Germans. Treptow took the message and delivered it to his platoon leader. Exposing himself to enemy fire, he was killed by a German machine gun.  His diary was discovered with his personal belongings. On the fly leaf were the words he had written just months earlier as his New Year’s Resolution, titled, My Pledge, he wrote, “America must win this war.  Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.” Martin like so many others, willingly made the ultimate sacrifice for the preservation of freedom, may his memory and his pledge always endure. 

Another Iowan worth highlighting is Alexander Clark. Clark came to Iowa as a teenager and resided in Muscatine. As he entered his adult years, Alexander became an activist for the black suffrage movement. As part of his efforts to support the Civil War, Clark recruited blacks for the First Iowa Volunteers of African descent, which was later designated the 60th Regiment Infantry. Following the Civil War, Clarke took on the fight for suffrage and rightfully proclaimed, “He who is worthy to be trusted with the musket can and ought to be trusted with the ballot.” The record reads as follows; Following Clarke’s call for full citizenship rights of blacks, the Iowa Republicans responded with a provision in their platform to enfranchise black males. Democrats firmly opposed black suffrage. In 1868 voters considered a referendum to strike the word “white” from the voting clause of Iowa’s constitution. The amendment passed. Clarke’s unyielding stand for equality helped Iowa become the first Northern state to extend suffrage to black men after the Civil War in a referendum where voters knew exactly what they were voting for or against.

The truth remains that while these moments of history and these Iowans deserve our admiration and respect, our state isn’t great because of a singular act of bravery, steadfastness, or service. Iowa is great because behind every Martin Treptow, or Edwin Guiberson, or Alexander Clarke, there are Iowans who also selflessly sacrifice for the next generation. They are every day Iowans you see working hard to provide for their families. They are the men and women who over this past year have been at the frontlines fighting a global viral enemy.

“Back to normal” has been the finish line frequently proclaimed in the midst of our universal disruption. But today we have a choice; today we can choose to go back to life as normal, or we can choose to work, sacrifice, and endure for a better life, a better tomorrow, a better Iowa. My hope is that this chamber does not wish for life to return to normal, but that we set our sights on the brighter tomorrow.

Let that brighter tomorrow include a renewed effort to tear down the barriers that prevent parents from choosing where to send their children for education. Let us recognize that sound fiscal policies of budgetary restraint have insulated Iowa in our weathering of Covid, and that continued conservatism will prepare us for the inevitable trials of the future. Now is the time for us to take bold, unwavering measures to reduce and perhaps even eliminate some of the tax burdens many Iowans are facing.

And let us remember the quote found near the USS Iowa on the first floor of this magnificent building by Daniel Oconnell, a great abolitionist, when he said, “nothing is politically right that is morally wrong.” Today there is little that can be argued as more horrendous, more objectionable, and more morally wrong than to take innocent life. The assault on the defenseless has silenced over 60 million Americans since 1973 and that number mounts every day. This legislative body has stood courageously for the life of the unborn. Regrettably, 5 unelected judges, with the stroke of a pen fabricated a constitutional right to an abortion under Iowa’s constitution. This egregious usurpation of power will not be left unchecked. It is our responsibility, it is our oath-bound duty, to rightfully propose to the people of Iowa a constitutional amendment to correct this judicial over-reach. 

Just as the founders of this great state called upon our supreme being for protection and blessings, may we renew our devotion in seeking those blessings. I echo the words of Iowa’s United State Senator James Harlan, who in 1863 in his proposed resolution to the United States Congress stated the following: “Let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that, in future national emergencies, He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security.”

God bless each and everyone of you and may he continue to bless this great state and her people. Thank you.