The first session of the 87th Iowa General Assembly began at 10:00 AM on Monday, January 9th. The first day of a session is very ceremonial, filled with leadership elections and speeches. Elected members are administered the oath of office, and are required to sign the Iowa Constitution. The afternoon session begins with the selection of seats, and ends with meetings and caucuses.
The Governor came to the House Chamber Tuesday morning to address a joint session of the Legislature. This was most likely the final Condition of the State address given by Governor Terry E. Branstad as he has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to become the United States Ambassador to China. When he is confirmed by the United States Senate, he will resign as Governor and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds will become Iowa’s Chief Executive. His speech was somewhat short, and was understandably emotional. He is the longest serving Governor in the History of the United States, and he graciously bid the citizens of Iowa a fond thank you and farewell. I would like to thank Terry Brandstad for his many years of service and wish only the best for him and his family.
In his speech, the Governor outlined a few of the priorities he wants the Legislature to address this year. He once again challenged Lawmakers to provide funding for statewide water quality initiatives. He also talked about healthcare costs and K-12 school funding. The Governor also mentioned the fact that traffic fatalities are up dramatically on Iowa’s roads, and he would like the Legislature to address issues involving pedestrians and those riding bicycles as well. He would also like to see tougher penalties for texting and driving.
Governor Brandstad also presented his proposed budget for FY 2018, and outlined a plan to make about $117 million in cuts from the current budget because of declining revenues. These cuts will be difficult, but are necessary by law. We will act on these FY 2017 cuts quickly, and move on to the FY 2018 budget. As he closed his address he said, “There is no better job in the world than being governor of the state you love so much. But sometimes we are called to serve in ways we had never imagined.”
In the coming weeks, I will write about the issues we are dealing with here in Des Moines and as always, I value your thoughts and opinions. I encourage everyone to contact me whenever I can be of help.
My committee assignments are: Appropriations, Natural Resources and Transportation. I will once again Chair the Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals budget sub-committee. It is an honor and privilege to serve as your representative in Des Moines and I look forward to hearing from you.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or at home on weekends at 712-434-5880. You may write me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. My home address is P. O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.