Today Senate President Amy Sinclair released her closing remarks as prepared for delivery.
Six years ago, we began the first Republican trifecta in the state since the 1997-1998 General Assembly. Entering our first year in the majority, I could not have imagined the challenges we would face, the bold solutions we would design, and the successes we would have to better the state of Iowa. We focused our efforts on tax reform, the reformation of collective bargaining laws, balancing the state budget, and protecting the life of the unborn. During our first session in the majority, we passed 174 bills, overhauling laws put in place prior to our majority, beginning to repair the budget, and working to begin an economic revival in our state.
However, when the pandemic hit, new issues arose and existing problems we had not seen came to light. I never imagined we would need to pass laws to let kids go back to school, allow family members to visit loved ones in the hospital, or keep workplaces from mandating vaccines for their employees. But we did. I am proud of the leadership our state showed during this time. It was this leadership that paved the way for the legislature to pass these bills, leading the nation by being the first state in the country to get our kids back in the classroom and being named the fastest state in the country to recover economically from the pandemic.
Several years ago, one of my friends and colleagues retired from the Iowa Senate. When I asked him why, part of his response was that he felt like Iowa Republicans had accomplished more Republican priorities since taking the majority in 2017 than most Republican legislators dream of accomplishing in their career. While I can see why he thought that at the time based on past sessions, just wait until he looks at what we have done in the 2023 session.
While it is beginning to feel like we often hear the word “historic” when talking about the accomplishments of the Iowa Legislature, the 2023 session has truly been historic in seeing some of my own priorities accomplished. We have passed policy I never believed I would see cross the finish line when I was first elected. Parental choice in education has always been a passion of mine. Parents have a right to educate their children in the way that supports their values system. And if the district school available to them doesn’t meet that need, our state has an obligation to support them as they make an alternative choice. This year Iowa passed HF 68, creating a pathway to universal school choice in our state. We also passed SF 496 to ensure parents know their rights when it comes to transparency in our educational institutions. Parents should be able to trust that their school administrators and educators will always do the right thing for their children. Transparency will strengthen that trust.
Additionally, we passed a historic property tax transparency and reform bill. When attending forums and listening to my constituents, the number one issue I hear about is property taxes. With the major increase in assessments recently released, we knew real change was needed in our system. HF 718 provides over $100 million in property tax relief, making it the most comprehensive property tax reform bill ever. The bill will automatically reduce tax rates when assessments rise, restore basic levy limitations to control government spending, and simplify a complex system while still maintaining local flexibility and decision making for community priorities.
In addition to these accomplishments, this session has also seen bills that prevent fraud in our welfare systems, prevent sexually explicit materials from being available to kids in our schools, ensure we maintain a balanced budget, and create more access to health care solutions for rural Iowans. To top it all off, Iowa has been named one of the top ten overall best states by US News and World Report. So while we have heard the word “historic” used before, the word accurately describes the positive change Iowa has seen and will continue to see under the Republican trifecta. I am proud to have served District 12 in the Iowa Senate and honored to serve the entire state as Senate President during this historic session of the Iowa legislature.