The first session of the 85th General Assembly convened at 10 a.m.. on Jan. 14. When the gavel fell for the first time, the stage was set for the usual pomp and ceremony. Members were administered the oath of office and directed to sign the official documents certifying their election or re-election to the Iowa House of Representatives.
What an awesome and inspiring set of events, even if one has had the opportunity to do so before. The election of a Speaker of the House and other leaders followed, and the Governor and the Senate were notified that the House was in session, and was ready to conduct business. The rest of the day was spent in caucus and getting the House organized.
On Tuesday, Jan.15, Governor Terry Branstad came to a joint session of the House and Senate to deliver his Condition of the State address and present his proposed budget for the next two fiscal years. He also outlined his agenda for the coming year and told us what he wanted the Legislature to work on in order to move the State forward. He focused on a handful of priorities, including property tax reform and education programs.
His speech was focused and fairly short, and within a few minutes of its conclusion, the "spin" began from all sides.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady delivered the Condition of the Judiciary on Wednesday morning.
With the House Republicans in the majority with a 53-46 margin and the Senate controlled by the Democrats by a 26-24 margin, it is obvious there will once again be a lot of discussion, debate, and differences of opinion. In the end, there will be compromise on some issues, and we will pass a balanced budget that does not spend more than we take in, and we will not use one-time money for ongoing programs.
As this is being written, lawmakers and staffers are studying the Governor's numbers to see how everything is going to fit into the "fiscal pie" and how large those pieces of pie might be. Future newsletters will try to uncover the details of the Governor's budget proposals.
My Committee assignments include: Appropriations, Transportation, Natural Resources, and Public Safety. I am also honored to serve as the Chairman of the Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals budget subcommittee.
It is an honor and privilege to serve as your Representative in Des Moines. It is important for me to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me at any time. This is your government. I only sit at a desk that belongs to you. Please do not be afraid to get involved in the political process.
You can 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 to me at the State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. My home address is 304 East 6th, P. O. Box 398, Aurelia, Iowa 51005. If you have email, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.