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.

Whitver Releases Committee Assignments

Today, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, released the committee assignments for Senate Republicans for the 89th General Assembly. Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa, was elected to US Congress to represent Iowa’s Second Congressional District and Senator Zach Nunn, R-Altoona, will remain on military duty through the 2021 legislative session.

“Senate Republicans have focused on pro-growth and pro-jobs legislation since we regained the majority in 2016,” said Whitver. “Those goals remain for another session and these committees will develop the policies to implement those goals. I’m very proud of our caucus and I am eager to work with them again this session.”

Agriculture
Senator Zumbach
Senator Sweeney
Senator Costello
Senator Driscoll
Senator Edler
Senator Green
Senator Rozenboom
Senator Shipley

Appropriations
Senator Kraayenbrink
Senator Lofgren
Senator Guth
Senator Rozenboom
Senator Cournoyer
Senator Costello
Senator Garrett
Senator Johnson
Senator Klimesh
Senator Reichman
Senator Williams
Senator Koelker
Senator Edler

Commerce
Senator Schultz
Senator Koelker
Senator Brown
Senator Goodwin
Senator Johnson
Senator Chapman
Senator Sinclair
Senator Smith
Senator Whiting
Senator Klimesh
Senator Williams

Education
Senator Sinclair
Senator Taylor
Senator Carlin
Senator Zaun
Senator Kraayenbrink
Senator Rozenboom
Senator Johnson
Senator Cournoyer
Senator Sweeney
Senator Goodwin

Ethics
Senator Koelker
Senator Carlin
Senator Costello

Government Oversight
Senator Schultz
Senator Williams
Senator Lofgren

Human Resources
Senator Edler
Senator Costello
Senator Carlin
Senator Garrett
Senator Sweeney
Senator Johnson
Senator Green
Senator Lofgren

Judiciary
Senator Zaun
Senator Garrett
Senator Dawson
Senator Schultz
Senator Sinclair
Senator Whiting
Senator Johnson
Senator Shipley
Senator Taylor
Senator Reichman

Labor
Senator Whiting
Senator Green
Senator Brown
Senator Driscoll
Senator Guth
Senator Schultz
Senator Taylor

Local Government
Senator Shipley
Senator Klimesh
Senator Garrett
Senator Guth
Senator Lofgren
Senator Williams
Senator Driscoll

Natural Resources
Senator Sweeney
Senator Driscoll
Senator Cournoyer
Senator Rozenboom
Senator Shipley
Senator Zumbach
Senator Green
Senator Taylor

Rules
Senator Whitver
Senator Chapman
Senator Smith
Senator Zaun
Senator Sinclair
Senator Whiting
Senator Zumbach

State Government
Senator Smith
Senator Cournoyer
Senator Guth
Senator Johnson
Senator Schultz
Senator Whiting
Senator Goodwin
Senator Reichman
Senator Koelker
Senator Dawson

Transportation
Senator Brown
Senator Shipley
Senator Driscoll
Senator Klimesh
Senator Koelker
Senator Zumbach
Senator Rozenboom
Senator Kraayenbrink

Veterans Affairs
Senator Carlin
Senator Reichman
Senator Dawson
Senator Edler
Senator Lofgren
Senator Costello
Senator Green

Ways and Means
Senator Dawson
Senator Goodwin
Senator Brown
Senator Carlin
Senator Schultz
Senator Sinclair
Senator Smith
Senator Sweeney
Senator Whiting
Senator Green
Senator Driscoll

Administrative Rules Review 
Whiting
Senator Brown
Senator Green

The following Appropriation Subcommittees are also assigned:

Administration and Regulation
Senator Guth
Senator Zumbach
Senator Goodwin

Ag & Natural Resources
Senator Rozenboom
Senator Shipley
Senator Williams

Education
Senator Cournoyer
Senator Green
Senator Sweeney

Justice Systems
Senator Garrett
Senator Carlin
Senator Taylor

Economic Development
Senator Lofgren
Senator Koelker
Senator Reichman

Health & Human Services
Senator Costello
Senator Edler
Senator Klimesh

Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals
Senator Johnson
Senator Whiting
Senator Driscoll

Whitver announces committee chairs, vice chairs

Today, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, announced chairs and vice chairs of Senate standing committees for the eighty-ninth Iowa General Assembly.

Agriculture
Senator Zumbach – Chair
Senator Sweeney – Vice Chair

Appropriations
Senator Kraayenbrink– Chair 
Senator Lofgren – Vice Chair

Commerce
Senator Schultz – Chair
Senator Koelker – Vice Chair

Education
Senator Sinclair – Chair
Senator Taylor – Vice Chair

Ethics
Senator Koelker – Chair
Senator Carlin – Vice Chair

Government Oversight
Senator Schultz – Chair
Senator Williams – Vice Chair

Human Resources
Senator Edler – Chair
Senator Costello – Vice Chair

Judiciary
Senator Zaun – Chair
Senator Garrett – Vice Chair

Labor
Senator Whiting– Chair
Senator Green – Vice Chair

Local Government
Senator Shipley – Chair
Senator Klimesh – Vice Chair

Natural Resources
Senator Sweeney – Chair
Senator Driscoll – Vice Chair

Rules
Senator Whitver – Chair
Senator Chapman – Vice Chair

State Government
Senator Smith – Chair
Senator  Cournoyer – Vice Chair

Transportation
Senator Brown – Chair
Senator Shipley – Vice Chair

Veterans Affairs
Senator Carlin – Chair
Senator Reichman – Vice Chair

Ways and Means
Senator Dawson – Chair
Senator Goodwin – Vice Chair

The Appropriations subcommittee chairs are: 

Administration and Regulation
Senator Guth – Chair

Agriculture & Natural Resources
Senator Rozenboom – Chair

Economic Development
Senator Lofgren – Chair

Education 
Senator Cournoyer  – Chair

Health and Human Services
Senator Costello – Chair

Justice Systems
Senator Garrett – Chair

Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals
Senator Johnson – Chair

Senator Zach Whiting will be the vice chair of the Administrative Rules Review Committee.

Senator Zach Nunn will remain on military duty through the 2021 Legislative Session.

Whitver Reelected Senate Majority Leader

Chapman chosen as Senate President, Zaun as President Pro Tempore

Senate Republicans reelected Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, as Majority Leader. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, was selected as President of the Iowa Senate for the 89th General Assembly. 

“For three election cycles in a row, Iowans have spoken and clearly stated they want leadership in Des Moines to conservatively manage the state budget, implement policies to encourage growth, and continue to provide tax relief for working families,” said Whitver. “It is a privilege to lead this caucus. It is a dynamic group of people who are deeply connected to their districts and I am excited to spend the next two years delivering on our promises.” 

Whitver was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010. He was chosen by Senate Republicans to preside over the Senate as President in 2016 and became Majority Leader in 2018. In 2018 he was re-elected to a four year team to represent Ankeny, Alleman and a portion of northeast Des Moines in the Iowa Senate. He resides in Ankeny with his wife, Rachel and their three children.

“It is an honor to be chosen as President of the Senate by my colleagues,” said Chapman. “This caucus embraces challenges and charts a bold, conservative path to improving this state and making it the best place in the country to live, work, and raise a family. I look forward to working with all our members to implement that agenda.”

Chapman was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2012 to represent all of Guthrie and Adair Counties and portions of Dallas, Cass, and Polk counties. He resides in Adel with his wife and five children. 

The Republican leadership team consists of the following senators:

Majority Leader: Senator Jack Whitver, Ankeny

President of the Senate: Senator Jake Chapman, Adel

President Pro Tempore of the Senate: Senator Brad Zaun, Urbandale

Majority Whip: Senator Amy Sinclair, Allerton

Assistant Majority Leaders:

  • Senator Chris Cournoyer, LeClaire
  • Senator Carrie Koelker, Dyersville
  • Senator Mark Lofgren, Muscatine
  • Senator Zach Whiting, Spirit Lake

Senate Republicans on Rules Review Committee Announce Opposition to Proposed Utility Board Rule

Today, Senators Waylon Brown, R-Osage, Zach Whiting, R-Spirit Lake, and Mark Costello, R-Imogene, announced their opposition to rules proposed in Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) Docket Nos. RMU-2020-0028 and RMU-2019-0024, which were released for comment on May 22, 2020.

“I have a number of concerns about these proposed rules from the Iowa Utilities Board,” said Senator Whiting. “My principal concern is the dramatic expansion of eminent domain authority the IUB appears to give itself. Private property is one of the fundamental aspects of our republic. Eroding those rights through administrative rule-making conflicts with the founding principles of our state and nation. My fellow Republican senators and I look forward to working with the other members of the Administrative Rules Review Committee members to implement a session delay should these rules continue to advance.”

“I applaud the leadership of my colleagues on the Administrative Rules Review Committee to address this administrative overreach,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. “I look forward to working with the House of Representatives and governor next session to make sure Iowans’ private property rights are protected.”

The proposed rules include three noteworthy changes for counties and landowners. The first change would expand the IUB jurisdiction over the siting and construction of renewable electric generation facilities through the process of certification under Code chapter 476A. The second change would expand the Board’s authority to preempt county and other zoning ordinances and permitting requirements for the construction of wind turbines and certain other renewable generation facilities. Finally, the rules would expand the ability of a developer, upon certification of a project by the Board, to use the power of eminent domain to condemn private property for the construction of facilities.

National Group Hails Iowa’s Budgeting Practices

The Council of State Governments (CSG) recently released a report on the fiscal situations of each state in the country and the resiliency of the budgets in those states. The State of Iowa is the most fiscally sound, most resilient state in the country when it comes to battling through COVID-19, according to a new report issued in July of 2020.

“CSG’s newest report validates the conservative budgeting practices Senate Republicans have implemented for the last four years,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. “Contrasted with the record of generational debt and massive cuts to K-12 education under Democrat control, Iowans can be confident in stable and predictable funding under Republican leadership.”

CSG commissioned the accounting firm KPMG to study the fiscal risk and resiliency of each state in dealing with COVID-19. The study weighed several factors including percent of GDP by industry in each state, the expected reduction of state revenues, balance in each state’s rainy day fund, each state’s debt to income ratio, the solvency of each state’s pension system and each state’s unemployment trust fund, as well as each state’s cost per enrollee in Medicaid, and growth in K-12 education funding since the Great Recession. 

The full report can be downloaded from this link: https://web.csg.org/COVID19/fiscalimpact/.

Closing Remarks from Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver

Today, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, released his closing remarks as prepared for delivery.

Mister President, Senator Petersen, and colleagues in the Senate,

At the beginning of this year, I urged my colleagues in this chamber to find bold solutions to the problems facing our state. The following weeks were busy with subcommittees, committees and floor debate, as we worked to pass legislation to work on those issues.

In January the unemployment rate was well below three percent and one of the lowest in the country. Iowa had more job openings than unemployed people looking for work. To address that problem the Senate passed bills to address the workforce shortage in our state, whether it was finding ways to bring more people who are able to work into the workforce, building on the governor’s Future Ready Iowa program, or lowering barriers to work in some professions. We worked to expand broadband and continued working on the Empower Rural Iowa initiative.

Early in session the legislature approved almost $100 million in new funding for K-12 schools, including money for per pupil equity and transportation equity among our state’s school districts. We passed legislation to help teachers facing violent students in the classroom, and give them tools to keep themselves and other students safe while they are teaching. We passed legislation to put victims first, and legislation to protect life.

However, the end of this year’s session looked very different from what we thought it would, and vastly different from all years prior. In January, nobody could have predicted the session would take a 10-week break, restart in June with no clerks or pages, and see subcommittee meetings held in the Senate Chamber in the name of public health.

Several months ago we didn’t know how a pandemic would affect our state. We never heard of the virus, the information about it changed almost daily, and the uncertainty was significant. What I do know is this: Iowans all across the state are doing the best they can to help each other, and Iowans are working to get our state back up and running for everyone.

Iowans are no stranger to hardship. Our country has seen civil war, the Great Depression, and been victim to terrorism. The agricultural economy, so vital to our state, has seen ups and downs and more uncertainty year to year than most other industries. Iowa now has record high unemployment in our state. In efforts to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many restaurants, shops and stores had to shut their doors. Unfortunately, some of those doors were shut permanently.

But Iowans always rise to the challenge. Many went out to support local businesses in their area, to help keep their neighbors afloat. I read story after story of Iowans packing up meals for kids and families in the area, and people who worked day after day to make masks for health care workers and other essential people in the workforce. Businesses across the state altered their day-to-day practices to help keep employees safe and support them to the best of their abilities. Even in hard times, Iowans are there to help each other and support one another.

Too many Iowans have lost their jobs, have had hours cut, or been forced to shut down the businesses they worked their whole lives to build. The path to recovery starts now. I believe we can get back to where our economy was, and keep moving forward to get Iowans back to work. The coronavirus will not last forever, but the actions we took this week will help put our state back on a path to prosperity.

That work started by implementing reliable and sustainable funding for the essential aspects of state government. This budget will keep the promise of nearly $100 million in new funding for K-12 education. Keeping that promise is exactly what I mean when I say our budget is reliable and sustainable. In the face of a dramatic economic downturn, this chamber made the tough choice and budgeted in the same manner Iowa families budget.

The Senate also included important legal protections to ensure job creators, churches, schools, and cities could reopen their facilities with confidence. In order to restart this economy effectively, all those entities need to know they can put forth a good faith effort to maintaining public health and be protected from a career-ending lawsuit. The last thing a small business in this state needs, after being wounded by the coronavirus, is to be killed off by a lawsuit from someone claiming they could possibly have contracted the virus in their facility.

Finally, we took big, important steps to improve the relationship between law enforcement and minorities in this state. Justice is a fundamental aspect of our government and when it is denied to an individual or a group, it is incumbent upon the elected leaders to take steps to improve the application of laws and justice.

As we finish this legislative session, I look back on the work we done and the decisions we made and I believe implemented important policies to help this state recover from the economic shocks of the coronavirus. But our work is not done. I look forward to working on issues to continue to rebuild the Iowa in the next legislative session.

Closing Remarks from Senate President Charles Schneider

Below are closing remarks from Senate President Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, as prepared for delivery.

Senators, staff, visitors, and fellow Iowans:

I believe voters send us to the capitol each year to make Iowa the best state in America to live, work and raise a family. This is an aspirational and open-ended goal, but one that we as lawmakers should always strive to attain. It’s our responsibility to the people of Iowa.

As I prepare to leave the Legislature, I am proud to say that I fought for this goal every single day since I assumed office in 2013.

For those of us who last faced the voters in 2016, this was one of the most productive and eventful terms in modern history. Since January 2017, the Legislature passed the largest income tax cuts in state history, making Iowa a more competitive place to attract jobs and people. We reformed the opaque and punitive property tax system by giving property tax payers more say on how local governments set their tax rates. We put hardworking Iowans, instead of the union bosses, in charge of the state, local governments, and school districts. We cut unnecessary rules and regulations that hindered economic growth and job creation. We protected doctors and business owners from frivolous lawsuits. We held the state budget in check. We even created the blackout license plate, the most popular specialty license place in state history!

I couldn’t be prouder of our record. I believe these reforms make Iowa a more free, fair, and prosperous place to live.

The last four years have also brought challenges we are still working to overcome. Right now, all legislators are concerned about the physical and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all outraged by the violent death of George Floyd and are sympathetic to our neighbors in the streets demanding racial justice. We are also angry at those who hid behind lawful protesters to loot and commit acts of violence.

As state leaders, it is our responsibility to lead our state through the current challenges, and back to growth and prosperity. Since 2017, we have worked closely with Governor Kim Reynolds and the House of Representatives to control spending.  We turned a structural deficit in 2017 into the surpluses that are sustaining us through these challenging times. As a result, Iowa is in a stronger position right now than many other states. While the pandemic is forcing other states to make devastating cuts, Iowa has the resources to withstand a significant drop in revenue while keeping its promises to Iowans.

I expect state leaders will continue to work with stakeholders in pursuit of racial justice in Iowa. Our reforms this year are a down payment on what will be a long-term discussion about racial justice in our state. As these conversations move forward, I am optimistic about their outcome. Iowans are a welcoming people. Most Iowans are accepting of anyone who works hard, is a good neighbor, and plays by the rules. I believe our state gains strength from its diversity. I am confident that when sensible Iowans of all races, genders, orientations, and backgrounds come together to solve a problem, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

I am optimistic about our future. In my time as a senator, and specifically as President of the Senate, I traveled the state from river to river. I spoke with Iowans from every walk of life. I know Iowans can take on anything that comes their way. We are hard-working, resilient, and never afraid of challenge or hardship. Iowans are kind and compassionate. And, from the emails and phone calls I receive, and questions I get at forums, I know first-hand that Iowans are knowledgeable and tough, always asking difficult questions of those they elect and willing to hold us accountable.

There will be long days ahead as we continue to fight the pandemic and transform our society into one where everyone can achieve the American dream. We will continue to mourn those we lost to COVID-19, care for the sick, confront economic insecurity, and work for justice. And when this difficult night turns to dawn, we will see a bright future for Iowa on the horizon.

My goal has always been for this state to be one where everybody can be successful, where there are opportunities for people to further their education, start a business, or settle down with family. Iowa is and should always be a place where anyone can come and build their American dream, however that may look.

I am proud to leave the Iowa Senate knowing that I achieved many of my goals, and knowing that the future of our state is in very capable hands. Thank you to all of my senate colleagues, past and present, on both sides of the aisle for your friendship, support, and leadership. It was an honor to serve with you, debate beside you, and work towards building an even better Iowa.

Senate GOP Leaders Comment on HF 2647

Today Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, and Senate President Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, commented on the passage of HF 2647, a police reform bill to address unequal treatment of minorities by some members of law enforcement. 

HF 2647 has four policy divisions. Division 1 empowers the attorney general to investigate a death caused by a law enforcement officer. Division 2 bans choke holds by law enforcement unless an officer is in a life threatening situation. Division 3 prohibits officers with a proven record of misconduct from moving from one law enforcement entity to another and continuing their misconduct in a different city or state. Division 4 requires law enforcement agencies to provide annual training in de-escalation techniques and the prevention of bias in law enforcement. 

Senator Whitver’s floor remarks on HF 2647 are below:

Unequal treatment of minorities by some members of law enforcement has not been a problem that has emerged over the last 2 weeks, or 2 month or 2 years. It has been with us for generations.

A failure of action has afflicted not only Republicans majorities in the chamber, this state, and this country but Democrat majorities as well. In light of recent events and the history of this issue, it is time to move forward on policies to improve the treatment of minorities and take steps to address incidents of law enforcement officers infringing on the constitutional rights of minorities.

One of the principle reasons people organize themselves into governments is to protect themselves. Whether a feudal castle, an ancient walled city, or the United States of America establishing itself apart from the tyranny of the British crown, people depend on their government to protect their life and their property. When the government fails to protect the people, unprotected people rightfully seek a solution.

When the rights to life and due process are denied to people like George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery, it provides a platform for the shared experiences of other black Americans. They demand some solutions from their government.

And so do I. 

That reason is why I have brought SF 2416 to the Senate floor today. This bill has four main policy proposals. It prohibits the training and use of choke holds by law enforcement unless a law enforcement officer is experiencing an imminent threat to his or her life. It prohibits officers with records of proven misconduct from moving from police department to police department to continue that misconduct. It also empowers the attorney general to investigate a death caused by a police officer. Finally, this bill implements training for law enforcement on de-escalation techniques and methods on eliminating racial bias in law enforcement practices.

The government has a role to play in solving this problem but the government cannot solve every problem of racism or discrimination. That change can only happen in the hearts and minds of Americans through the conversations now happening in workplaces, neighborhoods, and homes around the country. 

I don’t believe this bill will solve all the problems black Iowans face. I do believe this bill is a bi-partisan, good faith effort on behalf of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the governor to implement a number of requests put forward by those Iowans advocating for fair treatment of minorities by law enforcement.

Senator Schneider commented: 

“I am proud to see the Senate pass this legislation and take a step toward improving relationships between minorities and law enforcement in Iowa. House File 2647 is a great example of how change can come from listening to each other and working together to find real solutions to the problems facing our state. While this bill is one step in the right direction, there is still work each and every one of us has to do to make sure everybody is treated equally in our home state.”