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2013 legislative session is now under way

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 12:04 p.m. CDT

The 2013 legislative session began on the morning of Jan. 14 with all the usual pomp and circumstance. The major item on opening day, of course, is the swearing in of all recently elected representatives and senators. 

As this was the beginning of my first term as your state representative, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the honor and responsibility that you have entrusted to me as I placed my hand on the Holy Bible and took my Oath of Office.  I am truly grateful for this opportunity to serve the people of the 28th House District and I reiterate this pledge to support both the Constitution of the United States and the great State of Iowa and to faithfully discharge the duties of Representative, to the best of my ability, so help me God.

The second day of the legislative session brought Governor Branstad’s Condition of the State address where he outlined his priorities of property tax reform, education reform, and making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.

On Wednesday, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady delivered his Condition of the Judiciary address where he laid out his vision for making Iowa’s court system one of the most efficient in the nation through the expansion of our Electronic Document Management System.

Aside from all the opening week speeches, legislators were busy establishing ground rules and protocol on their respective committees.  I will be serving on five committees in the House of Representatives: Government Oversight (vice chair), Local Government (vice chair), Judiciary, Public Safety, and Transportation.

As a member of the majority party in the House of Representatives, I would like to state that House Republicans remain focused on ways to make Iowa strong.  We will focus on creating certainty with balanced budgets, promoting job creation through tax relief, and fostering strong schools through accountability and innovation.

We will stick to the principles used to get our fiscal house in order:

• Do not spend more money than the state takes in;

• Do not use one-time money to pay for on-going expenses;

• Do not intentionally underfund programs to balance the state’s budget;

• Return unused tax dollars to Iowa’s taxpayers

There are some who see the state’s ending balance as a giant pot of money and they have already begun devising ways to spend it. However, if we were to spend everything we were allowed to under law this year, the state would need to see 9 percent growth in 2014 revenues just to maintain that level of funding. This is unsustainable and should caution everyone making big spending plans.

Iowans have been very clear that they want property tax reform and relief from the statehouse this year. Iowa has the third highest commercial property taxes in the nation and the 16th highest residential taxes in the nation.

While the dynamics of the Legislature haven’t changed after this last election (Democrats still control the Senate and Republicans still control the House), I am hopeful that we can work together to pass meaningful, inclusive, and reliable tax relief for all classifications of property.

Education will also be a priority this session. We should all be concerned about the quality and rigor of the education our children are receiving. It is unacceptable for our students to be graduating without the mastery necessary to succeed in college or lacking the skills needed to enter the workforce. Again, I am hopeful that we can advance education reforms that offer accountability, innovation, and choice for parents.

Please feel free to contact me with your issues or concerns as they arise either by phone at (515) 281-3221 or greg.heartsill@legis.iowa.gov via email. Again, thank you for the honor of representing you in House District 28. God bless!

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