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Senate President Jack Whitver’s Opening Day Remarks 2017

Good morning.  It is an honor and a privilege to be elected as the new Senate President. And, like all of you, being elected to serve the great people of our state is not a responsibility I take lightly.

The first day of every General Assembly is always my favorite day because I am overcome with a great sense of optimism. I have so much optimism because I look around this room and see so many great public servants. I see teachers, peace officers, farmers, bankers, small business owners and pharmacists. And yes, I see Republicans, Democrats and a no party.

But, beyond professions and party affiliations, I see Iowans. I see senators who share a common passion – a love for this state and our fellow Iowans. I see senators who welcome the task to make Iowa the best state we possibly can. I have so much optimism because I see 50 senators coming from every corner of this state, converging in Des Moines with big plans and big dreams for this upcoming session.

Though I represent the great community of Ankeny, I was raised in rural Iowa – in Grinnell. This is where my parents, who are with us here today, taught me so many life lessons, the importance of hard work and what it means to have Iowa values.

When moving in my office, I learned of a couple of old pictures available through the State Historical building. One of them inspired me and now hangs in the Senate President’s office behind this chamber. It is a picture of Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, a pioneer who founded the city of Grinnell. He served in this body, the Iowa Senate from 1856-1860.

Many of you have heard the phrase, “Go west young man, go west.” This advice, many say, was given by the great statesman Horace Greely to a young man named J.B. Grinnell.

Greely’s advice was more than a compass direction. The west back then represented many things: Natural beauty. Wilderness. Boldness. Optimism. Opportunity, and its constant traveling companion, Risk. Most of all, it represented a pursuit of destiny, with little regard for what was familiar, or comfortable, or even safe. The West was where the future was being built.

Grinnell took Greely’s advice and traveled west into the unknown. He set out looking to make his mark on his country and create a legacy for those who came after him. He finally settled in what is now the city of Grinnell because of the endless opportunities he saw right here in Iowa.

Now, more than 150 years later, I believe the endless opportunities Grinnell chased are even greater today in our state. I challenge us to look at Iowa and seek out the same opportunities he pursued.

I urge my fellow senators to spend the next 110 days as J.B. Grinnell did – thinking big and acting bold.

When this session ends and people remember the 2017 session, let them say that this was the year that positively changed our state forever. Let them say this was the year an economic revival began in Iowa. Let them say that 2017 was the year the legislature dared to dream big.

Let’s work together this session to expand our workforce, strengthen our economy, rejuvenate our ag industry, ease the tax burdens on Iowans, create financial stability for our rural communities and school districts, and provide students with a top notch education.

Let us go west, not across the ground, but in our hearts and minds. Let us confidently face the unknown future the way J.B. Grinnell faced the challenges of the wild frontier.

Today is a good day to be an Iowan. Let’s work together to make tomorrow even better.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s Opening Day Remarks 2017

Today, we embark on a new direction for the State of Iowa. It will be a journey that creates optimism and a stronger financial footing for our great state.

This last election was a tough one, for both sides. Now, more than ever, we need to come together and do what is best for Iowans. We all want Iowa to be the best state in the country; one that keeps Iowans here, and attracts new residents to our state. It is imperative we create an atmosphere in which people can create businesses and thrive, raise their families, and trust their children are getting a world class education.

Our priorities are not new – and they shouldn’t be. For the past few years you have heard our hopes and concerns. Our ideas and dreams. Our plan for a better Iowa.

Senate Republicans have a vision of economic prosperity for the people of Iowa, a vision of a vibrant agricultural presence in our rural communities, a vision of fiscal responsibility in the Iowa Senate, and growing our state and making it attractive for investment and new career opportunities.

Iowa is an agricultural state. I, myself, am a farmer with a diverse operation. Our rural communities have long been the backbone of Iowa’s economy, culture and character. There is no reason these communities should be struggling the way they have been for so long. This must change, and let me tell you why.

Do you remember when you were taught to tie your shoes? You were told to tie them once, nice and tight, and then again, a double knot for security, so you do not trip and fall. A double knot, so you could move forward without worry you will trip and fall, so you could move without concern it will all come undone.

We are all here for the same reason – we care about our state. We care about our families, friends, neighbors. We care about people and want them to have the best life they can. We want them to be successful and thrive. We want to make sure Iowans can do more than just make ends meet, but even tie the ends a few times over, like a double knot. To ensure Iowa families feel secure. We want to enable them to grow, to move forward, and succeed.

These last few months, Republicans promised a limited, more efficient government. We promised more money back in the pockets of Iowans; money Iowans have earned and deserve to keep. We want a balanced budget with responsible budgeting principles, much like Iowa families budget to honor their commitments.

As I talk to Iowans all around our state in our rural communities, I hear firsthand about declining school enrollment. Iowans also share with me concerns about stagnant wages and unsustainable government spending.

The solution for each of these challenges is quite simple: Growth, growth, growth. We should be making our state attractive, inviting, and a great place to live for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We must foster an environment that creates flourishing career opportunities for those graduating high school, college and for those seeking to embark on a new career path.

Iowans responded to these words, to these promises, to these principles and overwhelmingly chose us to move Iowa forward. And, we are ready to lead.

The windows of my Senate office look out over the Des Moines skyline. If you look out those windows, you can see the positive things investing in our state can do. It represents the commerce and economy of our state and the positive impacts of investing in our state, its people and ideas.

Let’s get to work in our pursuit of real, substantive policies to provide an environment for growth. Economic growth, personal growth, educational growth. The key here, is growth. Senate Republicans are excited to start this new venture and work with the House of Representatives and the Governor.

We stand ready to make all Iowans hopeful for and proud of what is on the horizon for our great state.

Let’s Make It Happen!

Senator Bill Dix’s 2016 Session Closing Remarks

Thank you Madame President.

When session began this year I commented on the need for state government to be fiscally prudent and instill the kind of fiscal discipline into the state budget that Iowa families put into their own budgets. Now, nearly five months later, it is time to evaluate the results of this session.

Budgeting is simply a matter of revenues and expenditures. For the State of Iowa, revenues have been strong during the last four years. Revenues grew by nearly $589 million from FY13 to the estimates for FY 17. Unfortunately, for Iowa taxpayers, expenditures increased by nearly $1 billion during that same time period. When the state closed its books at the end of FY 13, the ending balance was $927 million. With the passage of this year’s appropriation bills, the ending balance projects to be approximately $80 million. The data regarding the state budget is clear; Iowa government does not have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem.

Iowa families know that they cannot spend more than they take in for very long. Ultimately, that credit card bill comes due. As I just illustrated the state budget has been growing at a pace that exceeds revenue. Sadly, this behavior isn’t limited to just the general fund. For years the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund budget has been raided for all sorts of projects. Now, the state’s existing vertical infrastructure cannot be maintained because, between the ill-fated I-Jobs program and other bonding commitments, the first $70 million per year is already committed to bond repayments.

So, what do some in this body propose? This headline from last week in the Cedar Rapids Gazette summarizes it well: “Senate Includes Borrowing in Infrastructure Budget.” According to the article the proposal would further indebt Iowa for $110 million. The disease is overspending and according to some the cure is…more spending!

My colleagues and I are concerned about spending growth for the simple reason that when government grows, the private sector shrinks. When the private sector shrinks, opportunity for young Iowans either disappears, or it moves to Kansas City, Austin, or Indianapolis.

I believe Iowa has all the necessary ingredients for a period of dynamic economic growth. I am optimistic when I think about Iowa’s future and the possibilities young Iowans have in front of them. Iowa has some of the most productive farm land in the world, a citizenry that is hard-working and engaged, and, of course, only the finest bacon.

Opportunities to invest and succeed are important and when this body throws up barriers to growth, whether that is excessive regulation or excessive taxation, we only hurt our own children and grandchildren. Senate Republicans advocate for policies that encourage economic growth, that remove barriers that inhibit growth and that incentivize work and investment. The more government gets out of the way, and the more of their own money Iowans keep, the more Iowa’s economy will grow.

As some of you know my oldest son is graduating from high school next month. I want Iowa to be a viable option for his future because career opportunities are available. We need to leave a legacy of opportunity for every Iowan.

Let’s make it happen!

Senator Dix’s 2016 Opening Day Remarks

January 11, 2016

Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix’s opening day remarks as prepared.

Thank you Madam President.

The memory of the last winter storm remains fresh in our minds as it blanketed much of Iowa with snow and ice two weeks ago. Prior to the storm, many Iowans flocked to the stores to ensure they had milk, bread and other necessities. Iowans understand the importance of being prepared when such a storm strikes.

Iowans expect the same sense of preparedness from their elected officials. Senate Republicans have called for such action and it has fallen upon deaf ears in this chamber. For the past several years, I have stood here – in this spot on the opening day of the legislative session – and stressed the seriousness of getting our state spending under control. Senate Republicans have long warned, if we do nothing to curb the appetite to spend the money of hard-working Iowans there would be consequences. Senate Republicans predicted a financial storm was coming unless we changed these reckless spending habits. Colleagues, this storm is no longer on the horizon. We are in the eye of the storm – seeking shelter is not an option.

This is a problem which requires action, and more important – leadership. Leadership is not pointing fingers, raising our voices or grandstanding with the intentions of questioning someone’s integrity. It is about rolling up our sleeves, working together to get to the crux of the matter and providing a solution. As we have witnessed repeatedly in the last several years, when state cost-cutting measures were proposed they faced great resistance. The burden of leadership is making tough choices that fly in the face of what some may want because it is the right thing to do. One of those solutions is to quench that never-ending thirst to overspend the people’s money. It is time to lead. This is what Iowans expect and demand from their elected officials.

Do not fool yourselves; Iowans are watching and fully understand the challenges we face. Ask the farmer who took a loss on last year’s corn crop. Reach out to a northwest Iowa poultry producer devastated by last spring’s avian flu. Talk to a small business owner who struggles to make ends meet due to increasing health care costs and rising tax burdens.

We must face some undeniable facts. State revenues continue to come in below projections. The Ag economy is not as stable as in recent years due to lagging livestock and commodity prices. We also were dealt a significant blow last spring when the avian flu ravaged that sector of the economy. Colleagues, all of these factors affect Iowa’s state budget.

Senate Republicans will continue to stress the importance of controlled spending and treat our state budget as we do our family budget – which means we must not spend more than we receive. It is vital we do not overpromise only to under deliver.

We will discuss education at great lengths this legislative session – and we should. We must ensure we keep our promises and budget responsibly when it comes to education. There is too much at stake for our children and taxpayers if we fail to honor those commitments. Keeping our word to students and educators is essential.

It would be a disservice to our youth and businesses across the state if we do not offer them the means to compete in a global economy. Remember colleagues, the vehicle that drives the world economy is fueled locally, whether that is in Harlan, Shell Rock or Red Oak.  It is essential to give job creators in our rural communities and all across Iowa the tools necessary to have a presence in a world marketplace, and then get out of their way so they can succeed.

Though the last winter storm may be a memory, the financial storm we face remains a present and constant concern. I ask you today to work with Senate Republicans to weather this storm. Together, we can accomplish great things in creating a legacy of opportunity for all Iowans and making our great state even stronger.  Let’s Make it Happen!

 

 

Happy Small Business Week 2015

“I love the flexibility and setting my own schedule. And, I am ultimately responsible for the success of my own business.” — Tim Kraayenbrink, Kraayenbrink Financial Services

“I enjoy the creativity working for yourself provides, leveraging your own strengths and chasing your own goals. At the end of the day, it’s hard, but very rewarding.” — Rick Bertrand, local commercial developer

“The harder I work, the more potential I have and my business has. It’s the American Dream. I like the independence – becoming a small business owner is the best decision I’ve ever made.” — Brad ZaunZaun’s Trustworthy Hardware

“Our business is family-owned and it is great working with my family and such wonderful employees each day, knowing we are the best part of someone’s worst day and helping them when they’re in need. It’s a very rewarding experience helping out my neighbors, friends, family and community.”— Jake Chapman, family-owned private ambulance service

“For me, what’s great about owning a small business is it allows you to provide a good or service to people in an area you are passionate about. Though business ownership is extremely rewarding, it’s also very demanding and risky. I will always have a great deal of respect and admiration for anyone who takes on that challenge.” — Jack Whitver, Acceleration Iowa

“I enjoy interaction with employees, clients and customers. It’s like having an extended family; the relationships we building are long-lasting. Being in business for 31 years, you build a lot of relationship you may not have foreseen.” — Michael Breitbach, Trans Star Trucking and Swales Precast Inc.

“Owning a small business and making wheelchair parts for the disabled, allows me to help solve problems, employ hard-working Iowans and contribute to the economic growth in my community.” —Mark Chelgren, Frog Legs, Inc. 

No Place Like Home: Senate District 38

Senator Tim Kapucian, from Keystone, Iowa, has been a consistent voice for agriculture since being elected to represent Senate District 38.TK3-16-15

Senator Kapucian’s home district is mostly rural with several larger rural communities, or as he says, “Mostly rural with neat little twists,” including Vinton, Belle Plaine, Marengo, Williamsburg and Grinnell.

Brownells, the world’s largest gun parts and accessories supplier, is based in this district. Brownells’ first catalog was distributed in 1947 and the business has been growing ever since.

Another great Iowa based business in Senator Kapucian’s district is Kinzean agricultural equipment company based in Williamsburg, which got its start in 1965.

Grinnell is located on the far west side of the district and is known as the “Jewel of the Prairie.” The Merchants National Bank Buildingone of eight “jewel box banks,” sits in downtown Grinnell and was designed by Louis Sullivan. The term “jewel box” refers to the simplistic design of the building while securing the inside content, like a jewelry box.

Also in this town of more than 9,000 is Grinnell College, founded in 1846.

Senator Kapucian’s district is also home to the well-known Amana Colonies.

The colonies are a group of seven German villages They have become a big tourist destination, known for their woodwork and wine shops.

Belle Plaine has undergone a series of Main Street renovations, especially with the Belle Plaine museum and the Henry B. Tippie annex.

“It really rejuvenates the area, making it a nice shopping area for visitors with a small town experience,” Senator Kapucian said.

Belle Plaine also happens to hold the “eighth wonder of the world” – Jumbo, the artesian well.

In 1886, a well being drilled shot water up 53 feet in the air, spitting out thousands of gallons of water, eventually taking 14 months to contain.

“This district is very agriculture-oriented,” Senator Kapucian said. “From manufacturing to livestock and traditional farm production, this area plays a major role in the state’s economy.

“I ran for office because I wanted to support agriculture, the occupation of my father, grandfather, and countless families throughout Senate District 38. Agriculture needs a voice at the Statehouse and I am proud to be that voice.”

No Place Like Home: Senate District 28

Senator Michael Breitbach calls his district the gateway to the beautiful hill country.

“My district is where the flat lands and prairie meet the hills of northeast Iowa,” Senator Breitbach said. “It runs along the Fayette and Clayton county line. Once you get to that area, everything south and west of Strawberry [Point] pretty much flattens out. Everything north and east is all hills. It looks completely different than what most people think of when they think of Iowa.”

SONY DSCSenator Breitbach’s home, Strawberry Point, Iowa, is located in Senate District 28, along with a number of historical buildings, businesses, and of course, the “World’s Largest Strawberry.” This strawberry welcomes you to Strawberry Point City Hall, measuring 15 feet tall and 12 feet across. It weighs in at 1,500 pounds.

“Decorah is another beautiful town with many historical buildings,” Senator Breitbach said. One of those buildings is Hotel Winneshiek, originally constructed from 1904-1905. In April 2000 it reopened after extensive renovations.

“It really is something you have to see to truly appreciate,” Senator Breitbach said.

A little south of Decorah is the Bily Clock Museum in Spillville. Two brothers, Joseph and Frank Bily, started carving clocks in 1913. These clocks often depicted cultural, historical or religious scenes, some standing over 9 feet tall. The brothers never sold any despite offers they received. Their collection was donated to the museum after their passing.

Festina, Iowa, a small town outside of Deocrah, is home to  St. Anthony of Padua Chapel, the world’s smallest church.

Senate District 28 is also home to Effigy Mounds, a national monument stretching across Allamakee and Clayton counties. The prehistoric animal-shaped mounds built by Native Americans are believed to have many different meanings, such as seasonal observances, celestial events or boundary markers.

“We always have been active in our community. I spent time as a council member and my wife was the mayor,” Senator Breitbach said. “I wanted the opportunity to give back for all of the good things our family has enjoyed here. I thought running for office was a great way to do that.”

Senator Breitbach has served 30 years as a volunteer fireman, 22 years as a volunteer EMT, 20 years as a Boy Scout leader, as well as serving on many other boards and positions in the city.

“Each district is really different and I’m proud to represent the one I call home.”

No Place Like Home: Get to Know Senate District 48

SONY DSC“I take great pleasure in serving my constituents and our rural communities at the Statehouse,” said Senator Dan Zumbach. Senator Zumbach is from Ryan, Iowa, and represents Senate District 48.  “Our district is unique and it is an honor to represent it.”

Backbone State Park is located in Senate District 48. It is the first state park in Iowa. It received its name from the narrow and steep ridge of bedrock – the “Devil’s Backbone.”

The small town of Anamosa also is what inspired many of Grant Woods‘ paintings. He is most famous for his American Gothic painting.

“My district has 17 school districts and 21 small-town parades,” Zumbach said. “I always try to get to as many as I can, but 21 is quite a bit, some with three or four a day!”

“I was frustrated with the over-regulation by government that was happening, so I thought, ‘We need to find someone who can fix this,'” Zumbach said. “After searching for a while, my family started to say, ‘Why don’t you run?’ They thought I had the family values and business experience that would represent this district well.

“I thought seriously about the question they posed, and I remember thinking, ‘I’m just a farmer, how can I make a difference?’ I went to the county central committee to figure out how to start, then the process began, and here I am.”

To learn more about Dan Zumbach and sign up for his newsletter, visit his page.