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.