The second session of the 88th General Assembly was gaveled into order by the Speaker of the House, Linda Upmeyer, at 10 am on January 13, 2020.
Besides the usual pomp and ceremony of an opening day, there were special duties which needed tending to. Speaker Upmeyer has decided to retire from her leadership position, and Pat Grassley from New Hartford has been elected the new Speaker of the Iowa House. John Wills from Spirit Lake was elected Speaker Pro Tempore and Matt Windschilt from Missouri Valley will become the new Majority Leader.
These are some big changes, but I am confident in the new leadership team, and I am happy that our area of the state is well represented.
On Tuesday morning, Governor Kim Reynolds delivered the Condition of the State Address and revealed her proposed budget for FY 2021. She also unveiled some new policy initiatives which are bold but practical.
We will be discussing her new ideas during the coming weeks, but highlights include increasing the sales tax to help fund water quality, conservation and recreation programs, lowering income and property taxes paying for mental health costs with part of the sales tax hike and providing another $20 million for flood relief.
The Governor is also proposing an increase of $103 million for K-12 schools, which is roughly a 2.5% jump. She would also like the Legislature to increase the renewable fuels infrastructure fund another $2 million so it would stand at $5 million.
Finally, Governor Reynolds asked lawmakers to fix several statewide issues, including Workforce Development, childcare assistance and affordable housing. That is a lot to get done in a 100 day session, but fortunately, we have been working on most of these issues over the interim.
These proposals are important to Iowans, so I expect a robust debate as we move through the session.
On Wednesday morning, Acting Chief Justice David Wiggins delivered the Condition of the Judiciary address. Justice Wiggins is serving in this capacity due to the unexpected passing of Chief Justice Mark Cady from Ft. Dodge.
The opening week was capped off on Thursday morning when Major General Benjamin J. Corell presented the Condition of the Iowa National Guard address. The rest of the week was spent in committees and caucuses.
This year my committee assignments are Transportation, Labor, Economic Growth, and Administration and Rules. My Budget Sub is Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals. I was also elected to serve as one of four Assistant Majority leaders, so I am honored by that, and I enjoy the extra responsibility.
The Legislature will have many issues to deal with this year, so it is important for constituents to stay in touch with me.
You may reach me at the Capitol during the week by phoning me at 515-281-3221, or home 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 email@example.com.