DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa House of Representatives adjourned Sine Die officially at 12:16 am on Wednesday, minutes after the Iowa Senate adjourned for the 2022 session.
Both chambers passed a flurry of bills on Monday and Tuesday, leading to adjournment. Appropriations bills primarily were held up to stall the session’s adjournment to persuade reluctant House Republicans to vote for SF 2369, the Governor’s Student First Act, which would have created education savings accounts. That effort failed.
Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, pointed to the flat tax cut as the primary accomplishment in 2022.
“With inflation at a record-high and costs increasing on just about everything, it became even more important that we continue to ease the tax burden on Iowans,” he said during his closing remarks.
“So, we cut taxes for all Iowans to a fair and flat rate of 3.9%. And we eliminated the tax on retirement income. That piece is often overlooked when we talk about this tax cut package. But Iowa House Republicans feel strongly that no Iowan should leave our state in their retirement just because of our tax climate,” Grassley added.
He also highlighted the passage of the bipartisan biofuels bill that requires gas stations to provide E15. Grassley also noted the passage of bills addressing child care and mental health and the bottle bill. The bottle bill reflects the first change to Iowa’s recycling law passed in 1978.
“And if you can believe it, we actually passed a bottle bill. I’m not sure what the press will even ask me about anymore in my press conferences. Oh wait, yes I do – NO I’m not running for my grandpa’s seat,” Grassley joked about speculation that he would run for U.S. Senate when U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, retires.
Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said she was disappointed by the session. She said the Republican-led House failed to address issues like the workforce shortage and affordable childcare and housing.
“Instead, what we did was we did a lot of rewarding of special interests, we made sure that the wealthiest Iowans got a tax cut, and we left a lot of Iowans behind. So I’m really disappointed. This session had potential and we missed the mark,” Konfrst said.
Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, highlighted both sessions of the 89th General Assembly during his remarks.
Whitver pointed out legislation that required schools to return to in-person learning, the Back the Blue bill, and record budget surpluses.
He pointed to tax reform as the crowning achievement of the last two years.
“Our strong fiscal conservatism has led to record surpluses, record balances in our rainy day funds, and a record amount in our taxpayer relief fund. This year we promised to do what every government should do when it has too much taxpayer money,” Whitver said. “Our Ways and Means committee got to work! In 2021, we passed one of the biggest tax reform bills in history. We expedited income tax cuts, we eliminated the death tax in Iowa, and we made good on our promise to fund mental health, while reducing property taxes.”
“This tax bill would be historic in any normal General Assembly. But continued growth and surpluses positioned us to enact another tax cut. This time the biggest income tax cut in state history! We began our Republican trifecta with a tax rate of 8.9%. This legislature has reduced that rate to 3.9%!” he added.
Whitver also pointed out bans passed on mandates such as the mask mandate ban for schools, cities, and counties and the COVID-19 vaccine mandate ban.
He said the Iowa Senate has more work to do.
“This generational tax cut will be implemented over the next several years, and a conservative, sustainable budget must accompany that tax relief, Whitver said. “In addition to implementing tax relief and sustainable budgets, more work remains to give Iowa parents a greater ability to direct their children’s education. Iowa has some excellent public schools, but they don’t always work for every student. Putting parents first has been a theme for Senate Republicans for the last six years. From in-person learning to choosing to wear a mask and ensuring open enrollment exists for all Iowa students, we have led on empowering parents. We continued that work this year, and we will continue to advance that goal next year.”
Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said Republicans ignored vital issues in favor of engaging in culture war, hot button issues instead.
“There could be no clearer sign that Republicans have zero interest in addressing the substantial economic headwinds facing our state: inflation, high gas prices, a formula shortage, and the ongoing Reynolds Workforce Crisis. Because rather than tackle these issues head-on, Iowa Republicans have spent 2022 pouring gasoline on the flames of the culture war and made many of these challenges much worse,” he said.
Gov. Kim Reynolds’ commented on the end of the session.
“This legislative session, I charged the House and Senate to work together to further advance Iowa’s strong growth through policies that cut taxes, invest in biofuels and strengthen our families, communities, schools, workforce and economy. I’m proud that our state is leading the nation in many of these areas and delivering on the promises we made to the people of Iowa,” she said.
“Iowa’s economy is expanding, our communities are flourishing, and our profile is rising. None of that would be possible without the businesses, community leaders, and educational institutions that form the bedrock of our communities. Most of all, it wouldn’t be possible without our people and the communities they call home. Thanks to them, there’s never been a better time to invest in Iowa, to move to Iowa, and to believe in Iowa. They are the source of our strength,” she added.