DES MOINES — New members have taken their oaths of office and the 2023 Iowa General Assembly has started with typical fanfare.
The partisan floor leaders in the Iowa House note it happened without the kind of drama that gripped the United States House last week. House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, is starting his 17th year in the Iowa legislature.
“We see the dysfunction of what happens in D.C. all the time,” Windschitl said during a speech on the House floor. “…Iowans are sick of it. I’m sick of it. I look at what’s gone out there over the last five, 10 years and I’m just baffled of how they can’t get their ducks in a row to actually govern the way we do here in Iowa.”
House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, a Democrat from Windsor Heights, said voters want to see bipartisanship at the Iowa Capitol. “Iowans are exhausted by politics as usual. Some of us might be, too. Let’s do things differently this year,” Konfrst said in opening day remarks in the House. “They want us to work together from beginning to end.”
Speaker Pat Grassley, the top Republican in the House, said the GOP plans to cut property taxes and establish a new way for parents to use state money to cover private school tuition. At the beginning of his opening day speech, Grassley suggested the debate about those ideas may be unpleasant at times. “There’s going to be arguments and fighting, but I genuinely want you to know that I have an open office,” Grassley said, “more than happy to have any conversations.”
The Iowa Senate got underway with a super majority of 34 GOP senators, the first time that’s happened in 50 years.
“I think it’s safe to say that we are ready for bigger, bolder and better,” Whitver said in opening day remarks on the Senate floor.
Whitver and newly-elected Senate President Amy Sinclair both indicated the Senate GOP is ready to pass “school choice,” so parents can use state dollars to send their child to a public or private school. “This should not be exclusive to families with the financial means to pay for tuition or transportation,” Sinclair said, “or for those whose families can afford to move to a better zip code.”
Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls used his opening day speech to suggest the 2023 legislature should instead turn its focus to the main dilemma Iowans see every day. “It’s been called a brain drain and a workforce crisis, but really this challenge is bigger than that,” Wahls said. “What we face is a people crisis, an exodus from the state of Iowa.”
The Iowa Republican Party hosted a fundraising breakfast two hours before the legislature began. Governor Kim Reynolds told the crowd Iowa voters have given her and Republicans in the legislature a “clear mandate” after she won by nearly 20 points and Republicans gained seats in the House and Senate.
“Iowans like the direction that Republicans are taking this state and despite what the national media would like you to believe, there was another state other than Florida that actually had a red wave,” Reynolds said. “In fact, we had a red tsunami!”
Windschitl, speaking at the fundraiser, suggested there’d be quick GOP action on major legislation. “For all the other state legislatures that are out there, get out your notebook because the Iowa legislature is going to put you in the classroom and take you to school,” Windschitl said. “We’re going to show you what can get done here in the state of Iowa.”
Governor Reynolds will unveil her legislative priorities in the annual “Condition of the State” address Tuesday at 6 p.m. You can watch the address online at kglonews.com