The 2014 session of the Iowa General Assembly is underway!
This year’s session is scheduled to be 10 days less than last year’s session, at 100 days. However, leaders in both chambers are suggesting the legislative calendar may be even shorter than that. With a shorter schedule also comes earlier deadlines for the first and second self-imposed funnel dates for legislation.
Over the interim, I have been busy gathering input from several of you in the district and working with fellow legislators to craft bills that are ready to submit. And I am not alone in that. Knowing that this year’s session will likely end sooner than last year’s, many in the House Chamber were prepared to hit the ground running on Day One. I have likened it to the guy who takes days to set up tens of thousands of dominoes in a gymnasium only to see them all topple one-by-one in a matter of minutes.
On opening day, January 13, I was encouraged to hear the leadership of both parties set a more conciliatory tone for this year’s upcoming session. We have proven to ourselves and the citizens of Iowa that we can work together on common ground solutions that benefit all Iowans.
The main event of day two was Governor Branstad’s Condition of the State Address. After reviewing the accomplishments of the last legislative year, the Governor laid out his administrative priorities and budget proposal.
Governor Branstad highlighted the “centerpiece” of his agenda as the Home Base Iowa Initiative, which is a bipartisan plan focused on recruiting service members to Iowa. Included in this plan are proposals to match veterans with high-paying careers, increase support for the Military Homeownership Assistance Program, opportunities in higher education, and exempting their military pensions from taxation.
The Governor also proposed a budget that will surpass the $7 billion mark for the first time ever. This is slightly more than the on-going revenue projection of $6.983 billion by the Revenue Estimating Conference. House Republicans are committed to only passing a budget that complies with our budgeting principles. Quite frankly, I am not ready to support any budget proposal that exceeds $7 billion.
The third day of the legislative session featured the Condition of the Judiciary delivered by Chief Justice Mark Cady. Chief Justice Cady touted the judicial branch’s success in improved efficiencies in the court room along with highlighting the importance of courts serving as protectors of the young. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I am pleased that Iowa’s Court System has made good use of technology and new specialty courts to improve the Justice System for Iowans.
Again this year during the Session, I plan to hold town hall meetings in each of the three counties in House District 28. If you are unable to attend one of my scheduled forums, please feel free to contact me with your issues or concerns as they arise.
You may do so either by phone (515-281-3221), e-mail (email@example.com), or when visiting the Capitol. I appreciate and welcome your comments and feedback. Also, if you would like to subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter, please send a quick note via email and I’ll put you on the list.
I am honored to be your representative in the Iowa Legislature. Until next time, God bless.