Jan. 9 marked the beginning of a brand new General Assembly in the Iowa Legislature starting with every House member taking the oath of office for our two-year term.
The first week of session is typically ceremonial and used for setting up the organization of our respective committees, hearing Gov. Branstad and Chief Justice Cady deliver their Condition of the State and Condition of the Judiciary addresses respectively.
I will be returning to four of the five committees I served on in the last General Assembly: Government Oversight (Vice Chair), Judiciary, Public Safety, Local Government. My newest committee assignment is Veteran Affairs.
Just moments before being sworn in for a third term, I was honored to participate in a proclamation ceremony where the Governor declared January as “Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month” in Iowa. We have made great strides in recent years by bringing more awareness of the existence of human trafficking in our state and by also making the consequences more severe for those convicted of entrapping and enslaving our youth in this evil industry.
In continuing our effort to combat human trafficking in our state, the focus will shift to a more proactive and preventative role. I was also grateful to learn that the top legislative priority of the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking this session was legislation that I have been working on for the last three years.
In addition to the regular pomp and circumstance of opening week, the House leadership wasted no time by digging into the current budget to fill a $117 million hole which was revealed in the recent Revenue Estimating Conference’s (REC) revenue projection for Fiscal Year ’17. Due to a sluggish agricultural economy (and the resulting ripple effect in other industries) Iowa’s revenue growth is slowing.
While the details of the budget cuts are still being worked out, I can assure you that the legislature will not be repeating the mistakes of the 10 percent across-the-board cuts of 2009 that decimated K-12 schools, public safety, and human services. We will be working to make targeted, thoughtful reductions that minimize the impact on services. This will by no means be an easy or popular process. There is no easy solution and difficult decisions will need to be made. However, in light of the shortfall, state government will have to do some belt tightening like any other Iowa family or business faced with a similar dilemma.
I will again be holding town hall forums in each of the three counties in House District 28. Be sure to check my schedule for one that is closest to you. On Saturday, I will be at the Monroe City Hall at 9 a.m. and Pleasantville’s Smokey Row at 10:30 a.m.
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. 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 consider it a great honor to serve and represent you in the Iowa Legislature.
Until next time, God bless.
Contact Rep. Greg Heartsill