DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Senate convened their 2022 session on Monday morning by having newly elected State Senator Dave Rowley, R-Spirit Lake, take the oath of office.
Republican leadership and the Senate Minority Leader gave opening remarks to start the session.
Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, spoke first, taking a swing at obscene material in public schools, calling for the legislature to act.
“The time has come for us to take a stand. It has become increasingly evident that we live in a world in which many, including our media, wish to confuse, misguide, and deceive us, calling good evil and evil good. One doesn’t have to look far to see the sinister agenda occurring right before our eyes. The attack on our children is no longer hidden. Those who wish to normalize sexually deviant behavior against our children, including pedophilia and incest, are pushing this movement more than ever before. Our children should be safe and free from this atrocious assault. Our students should be learning about science, and mathematics; they should be learning about engineering and innovation. Instead, some teachers are disguising sexually obscene material as desired subject matter and profess it has artistic and literary value,” Chapman said.
“When students are subjected to this violating content, we need to ensure parents have the ability to protect their children by removing them from the district. We can and must tear down the financial barriers that prevent parents from making this decision. We must hold those who distribute this repulsive and criminal content to minors accountable,” he added.
Chapman addressed the Senate’s work on the abortion issue.
“I am proud of the work done by this body to give a voice to the voiceless. As the United States Supreme Court takes up this important issue, we will stand ready to take whatever steps necessary to defend the dignity of life,” he said.
Chapman also called for the elimination of the income tax.
“Let’s keep our eyes set on the total elimination of income taxes. Now is the time for action, now is the time to be bold! We cannot allow another year to go by sitting on the sidelines, while other states are aggressively reducing taxes. This is the year to take action!” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, struck a partisan tone.
“Our session should be laser-focused on the Reynolds Workforce Crisis. All of us see and are overwhelmed by the ‘Help Wanted’ signs we see in our districts — the reduced hours, the limited service, and even shuttered businesses,” he stated.
“As Republican leaders gladly tell us, they have been in full control of our state government since 2017. And Republicans are now promising us more of the same — that hasn’t worked. We’ve been told it will be more of the GOP Greatest Hits this session: more attacks on LGBTQ Iowans, more gasoline on the culture war fire, and more attacks on the First Amendment,” Wahls added.
He blamed Gov. Kim Reynolds for the workforce shortage in public schools.
“The Reynolds Workforce Crisis is contributing directly to the crisis we’re seeing in our public education, which is creating massive uncertainty for Iowa students and parents,” Wahls said. “Republican policies are driving teachers out of Iowa.”
Wahls called for tax reform that closes loopholes and attracts new investment, fully funding public schools, expanding apprenticeships, and universal pre-K. He also said the Senate should invest in affordable housing.
Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, lauded Republican accomplishments.
“In the five years since Republicans have had the majority in the Iowa Senate, we have enacted legislation to help Iowa grow and make the state better for those who call it home. The priority being tax relief for those hard-working people who make our state the great place it is. After implementing conservative, responsible budgeting practices, we passed truly historic income tax relief and we have continued to pass tax relief measures every year. We started as one of the states with the highest, most complicated income taxes in the country. Even after the measures we have taken, we have more work to do,” he said.
Whitver called for tax reform.
“In a post-pandemic economy, the competition is fierce for jobs and citizens. If policymakers want this state to grow, then we must be on the list of states with the lowest income tax in America,” he said.
“We must improve Iowa’s competitive advantage to attract new residents and create new career opportunities. We started down that path in 2017 by implementing sound, reliable, and sustainable budgets and maintained that discipline each year. We continued in 2018 by passing the largest income tax cut in Iowa history. In 2019 we approved property tax transparency, and in 2021, we accelerated the 2018 tax cuts and eliminated a property tax levy. All of that work has set the stage for another significant reduction in the income tax rates,” Whitver stated.
Whitver countered Wahls’ comment about the workforce, “Iowans from nearly every sector of the economy are looking for solutions to the demand for workforce. I would propose instead of creating another government program to fix a government-created problem, we get government out of the way and empower Iowans to solve the problem.”
“Few policies have shown more long-term growth impact than significant, permanent income tax cuts. Implementing pro-growth tax policy to make Iowa one of the fastest growing states in the country is policy that makes a generational difference,” Whitver concluded.