Iowa Working Families Tax Relief Act is a bold initiative that will enact the largest tax cut in Iowa history. This plan completely rewrites Iowa’s complex tax code. Over the years Iowa’s tax code has become a collection of tax deductions, exemptions, and credits standing in the way of economic growth, job creation and Iowa family priorities. Senate File 2383 sets competitive tax rates that will drive Iowa’s economic growth initiatives, making Iowa known as one of the most tax friendly states in the nation.
As the 2017 Legislative session reaches adjournment, let me start by thanking all of you for the honor to preside over this body. Friends and colleagues, it truly has been a privilege. I also would like to take a moment to ask the chamber to join me in showing our appreciation to the Secretary of the Senate, his staff and the Senate pages for their hard work and efforts during this Legislative session.
This year has been very memorable for me. I am proud to serve as the Senate President and preside over a chamber with fifty Senators who care deeply about this state. We all have the same goal – to make Iowa a better place. Admittedly, we sometimes have different solutions. We have had robust debates this year on the best way forward for Iowa. There were intense moments, friendly moments, serious moments and humorous moments. Throughout it all, I have done my best to be fair and promote an open, spirited conversation the entire Session.
When people look back at the 2017 Legislative Session, I believe they will say that this is the year that changed Iowa forever. They will say that 2017 was the year that created an economic revival in our state. This was the year that created growth and opportunity for generations to come.
At the beginning of this Session, I challenged this body to act boldly. With leading and acting boldly comes criticism and doubt. I would urge my colleagues and fellow Iowans to judge the success of this legislature on the results of these policies, not on the talking points from either party.
This session also was memorable for me because I had the honor of having my two daughters spend a day with me in the Iowa Senate. One of the joys I get as a father is playing with them, reading to them, and working on puzzle books. They love connect the dot books. It is amazing watching their faces light up when they see lines connected from dot to dot turn into a clear picture.
I truly believe our bold agenda was crafted with a realistic vision, which will positively affect for our state for years to come. The Legislature has passed many bills this year – let me share with you how Senate Republicans see the big picture after the dots are connected.
This Session we improved Iowa’s job climate by reducing burdensome regulations on small businesses, worked toward reducing frivolous lawsuits and created uniform employment law.
We revitalized rural Iowa by working to increase access to healthcare, lifted up our rural schools by giving them home rule, created additional legal protections for Iowa farmers, and ensured cities and counties could get more bang for their buck on infrastructure projects.
Education remains our priority as we increased funding to K-12 education despite severe budget challenges. We empowered local schools by providing administrators and boards more flexibility with spending decisions and working to solve equity issues with school funding.
The Legislature approved legislation to keep our communities and Iowans safe. We placed a ban on texting while driving, protected students from sex offenders while at school and passed legislation to provide substance abuse treatment for OWI offenders.
Protecting the personal freedoms of Iowans is imperative. We enhanced Second Amendment protections, improved the integrity of our election system and legalized fireworks. I am also extremely proud to know we passed several bills protecting the sanctity of life in this session.
We stand proudly for a smaller, smarter government. These measures will go a long way in helping us navigate out of our financial dilemma. We passed a balanced budget and made a commitment to refill our cash reserves in a timely manner. We passed legislation to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars as well as reformed the public sector bargaining system.
As I said in my comments on the opening day of Session, more than three million Iowans are looking to us to lead, and to make the hard decisions necessary to create a better future for this state. I asked this chamber to look beyond the next election and look to the next generation. I challenged the body to make decisions that will change our state forever. I know we have done that. We have made many major changes that I know will make Iowa a more prosperous and better state for years to come.
I started this Session with an abundance of optimism for our future. As we close the 2017 Session of the 87th General Assembly, I am even more optimistic about the future of Iowa.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as Senate President, and thank you for your hard work and service to the people of Iowa. See you in January!
Fifteen weeks ago, we made a series of promises to you, to the people of Iowa. Promises for the people who voted for a change, for action, and for results. On day one, we promised you real, substantive policies for growth. We were not elected for more of the same.
We were elected to make big changes and bold decisions, just like the people of Iowa made when they voted for an overwhelming Republican majority in the Iowa House of Representatives and here in the Iowa Senate.
This session was different. The reason this session was different is because over the last fifteen weeks, we have kept our promises. In contrast to the institutional dysfunction on display in Washington, DC we have worked together to move this state forward with bold, innovative reforms.
Fifteen weeks ago, we promised real policies that focus on economic growth in our state.
Senate File 1 required jobs impact statements on administrative rule changes and instructed the state’s departments to consider how these changes will impact jobs in our state, a decision vital to creating an environment for economic growth in our state.
We passed Senate Joint Resolution 9, allowing the people of Iowa to vote on putting a 99 percent expenditure limit amendment to the Iowa Constitution. This would provide confidence to Iowa families and job creators that the state will live within its means in the same way the people of Iowa must live within their means. That stability gives them the motivation to invest, and raise their families in this state.
We made a series of changes to regulations in this state, with the goal of allowing our job creators to spend less time fending off frivolous lawsuits and focus on expanding their businesses in our communities. The agriculture nuisance law protects good agricultural producers from job killing lawsuits. Workers’ compensation reform restored the balance to Iowa’s system and lowered costs for job creators. Medical malpractice reform lowers costs for doctors and encourages them to work in rural Iowa.
We promised you real policies for educational growth. This year we were able to pass on-time supplemental state aid, setting budgets early and allowing school districts more time and predictability to plan their school year budgets. Major education flexibility policy passed unanimously in this chamber allows schools the freedom to address their specific needs with fewer top-down restrictions. We passed collective bargaining reform, allowing school boards and administrators to reward good teachers and get rid of bad teachers.
We passed a bill Senate Republicans had been pushing for years – transportation equity for our rural school districts. This bill is important to many rural districts across the state as they seek to provide the best education to their students regardless of where they live in Iowa.
This Senate moved common-sense laws supported by a wide majority of Iowans, including one of the largest gun bills in recent history, expanding the rights of every gun owner across the state. We also passed a requirement for a government-issued identification in order to participate in one of the most profound responsibilities as a citizen of our republic – voting. This session also saw the most significant pro-life legislation in forty years.
This is what fifteen weeks of a Senate Republican majority looked like. Not wasting time with politics – just substantive, real policies. This is only a chapter of the legacy we hope to leave for our state as we move this state forward in a positive, fiscally responsible, economically prosperous direction.
At the beginning of this session I said Iowans wanted us to change the way we do business. They wanted us to kick the door in. Well, we accepted that challenge and we kicked the door in. Now, the door of opportunity is wide open for Iowans to invest, grow, and succeed.
2017 was a legislative session in which we made it happen!
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.
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!