DES MOINES, Iowa – Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, reflected on the 2021 legislative session during a press conference on Zoom on Tuesday.
He was asked to reflect on the session and he said he hated to just outline a list because he didn’t want to miss anything, but noted that Iowa House Republicans worked on issues they campaigned on.
“I think starting from the beginning of session till the end of session, we tried to do the things that we said we would do on the campaign trail in November, leading up the elections. I think that’s what Iowans expect of their elected officials. And so those are the things that we tried to do right away – getting parents and kids the opportunity to be back in school, work on issues dealing with the Second Amendment, supporting life, reducing taxes, responsible budgeting, free speech. I mean, the I think the list just goes on and on of the things that we were able to work on,” Grassley said.
“I guess the key from my standpoint is they’re the things that we said we wanted to do leading up to and campaigned on last November. So from my perspective, that’s a big win, not only for us, but I think Iowans,” he added.
Grassley was asked about the election reform bill that the Iowa Legislature passed and his response to Congressional Democrats attempting to pass a bill, H.R. 1, that would prevent states from passing bills like that, as well as, criticism that the language for the bill possibly coming from Heritage Action.
He called the speculation over the origin of the legislation a manufactured controversy.
“It brought more attention back to the issue as far as when you have groups that are on the outside trying to take credit for things that obviously they had nothing to do with,” Grassley answered.
He said that Iowa House Republicans have been consistent in their ten years as a majority party noting they passed voter ID and changes to absentee voting before the 2021 session.
“I don’t think that this is anything that’s inconsistent from what we’ve said we wanted to do, and that makes sure we ensure election integrity in the state. And when you see record turnout, I think that reflects that we have not put ourselves in a position where we’re hindering anyone’s ability to make sure that they can cast the ballot, which we agree is very important,” Grassley stated.
He defended shortening the absentee voting period.
“We have not shortened our period unreasonably when it comes to the look across the entire country. There are states that are much less than what we are, we feel we’ve reached a reasonable point when you have more and more people absentee balloting. We want to make sure that there is those security measures that are going to be in place for people whether it’s picking up the ballot, or making sure they’re delivered,” Grassley stated.
He added that most of the changes are not significant changes from what Iowa law already required.
“I think people just want to make it look like it’s something that is not,” Grassley said.
He was also asked about cybersecurity in light of the DMACC data security breach. He said that is an issue the Hosue Technology Committee will address, but broadband access dominated their time during the session. “I think we’re prepared to work on anything that may need to be done at the state level,” Grassley said.
He was also asked about where the House Republican Caucus was at on local control since they passed bills like the anti-mask mandate bill and the mental health funding bill that is a reversal from the direction they have taken in the past.
“The individual making that choice is the ultimate form of local control,” Grassley said addressing masks.
“There is not a consistent source of funding for things like mental health, Iowa’s the last state in the country still funding it with local property tax,” he added.
Grassley reminded the reporters that Iowans have widened the Republican majority.
“All of these issues that I think that we’ve touched on this session, almost all, you know, things creep up during session, are things that we campaigned on. And so regardless of what people how they think we’re approaching them or what they are, we’ve been rewarded, we grew our majority, we’ve been rewarded for ten straight years with the majority. And I would say from that standpoint, we’re trying to do what we said we would do, I noticed all too often elected officials get accused of saying one thing to get elected, go and do another. I would hope that from the standpoint of our caucus, we’ve been consistent with what we said that we were going to do for the last several years,” he stated.
Listen to the full press conference below: