DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa House gaveled in for the 2022 session of the 89th General Assembly on Monday morning. Both Republican and Democratic leadership kicked off the new year with opening remarks.
Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, acknowledged State Reps. Michael Bousselot, R-Ankeny, and Jon Dunwell, R-Newton, and welcomed them to their first official legislative session. Both men won special elections and participated during the special session last fall. He also welcomed Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights.
“Welcome to the first day of your first official session as Minority Leader. As you know, while it’s the disagreements that will be the focus this session, majority of the bills we pass are bipartisan. I look forward to working with you in this new capacity to deliver policies to help Iowans in every corner of this state,” he said.
He later pointed to tax reform, a proposal that is unlikely to garner much, if any, Democratic support.
“We must return this money to the Iowa taxpayer. Decisions made by the Biden Administration have led to record-high inflation that is hurting Iowa families. Iowans need relief now,” Grassley said. “The Iowa House Republican caucus has a reputation of being responsible and forward-looking while delivering sustainable tax relief. That won’t stop in 2022.”
He also addressed the workforce shortage in Iowa.
“Across the country, we’re facing workforce shortages and supply chain issues, and Iowa is no different. Iowa’sIowa’s economy has 64,000 unemployed Iowans and 110,000 unfilled jobs. An economy that is creating jobs is always a great sign, but now we need to channel more of our efforts toward filling the jobs we already have open,” Grassley said. “There won’t be one single bill that solves this issue. It needs to be a holistic approach. We need to get creative and we need to work together, along with the Governor and the Senate.”
Konfrst, during her remarks, said Iowans she speaks with are “frustrated, but hopeful.”
“The Iowans I talk to every day are frustrated, but hopeful. They’re tired, but optimistic. They’re weary, but keep going. We owe them a productive session that honors their hard work and doesn’t leave them behind,” she stated.
Konfrst also pointed to the workforce shortage as a priority.
“Certainly, workforce challenges are happening across the country, which is why it’s so important that we work holistically to address this crisis in Iowa,” she said.
“This session, we can tell a story that sets Iowa apart and helps our state grow again. Or, we can tell a story that says we think we can fix it with one budget-busting move that ignores the underlying causes of the workforce crisis. I’m hopeful we choose to look at this substantial problem honestly and completely,” Konfrst said, pointing to affordable child care, affordable housing, and quality public schools as things the Iowa House should address to help solve the workforce crisis.
Iowa House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, encouraged Democrats and Republicans to work together.
“There are a plethora of opportunities for us to work together,” he said.
Addressing Konfrst, Windschitl said, “You highlighted many of the different issues that are out there. Speaker Grassley brought up many as well. Let us try and focus on those opportunities to build the bridges instead of burning them. I know it’s easy to do when we get on Facebook and Twitter and try and burn down the opposition. But let us find those times where we can actually move forward together and get done what Iowans expect us to do.”
He pointed to the budget surplus as an issue of disagreement.
“We have to find a way to take that billion dollars that Iowans put into the state general fund and return it to them in a responsible way. There’s going to be a lot of disagreements on how exactly to do that. But we have to do it in a way that is not only responsible but sustainable. Far too often, we get down here, and people talk about state general fund dollars. And we forget that that’s the taxpayers’ money. That money needs to go back to the taxpayers,” Windschitl stated.
He also encouraged lawmakers to look through the “lens of freedom” when considering bills.
“If you have a piece of legislation that you’re going to propose or that you’re looking at to move through a committee or that amendment that you want to have offered. Try and look at it through the lens of freedom. How does this policy make Iowans more free? How does this let them make decisions for themselves instead of government making for them?” Windschitl encouraged.
He concluded by encouraging lawmakers to finish their business in 90 days or less.