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Rep. Linda Upmeyer greets legislators in the Iowa House with opening statement

Linda Upmeyer (right)

From Rep. Linda Upmeyer (R)  of  Clear Lake:

Excitement and optimism filled the air this week in Des Moines as we called the 87thGeneral Assembly to order.  The week was largely ceremonial with speeches from legislative leaders, the Governor, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  Even with all of the pomp and circumstance throughout the week, legislators hit the ground running and got to work.

Our first order of business will be resolving the FY17 budget shortfall that’s been caused by slow revenue growth.  Members of the Appropriations Committee are working collaboratively with the Governor’s office and the Senate to make reductions to the budget.  We hope to have this process figured out as early as possible so we can move on to other issues.  Once the FY17 budget is resolved we can set supplemental state aid for schools, which we hope to address in the first 30 days, and construct next year’s state budget.

Below are the remarks that I gave to members of the Iowa House on the first day of the 2017 legislation session:

It’s such an honor to be here with you today. I love being able to share such an amazing day with you, your families, and people all across our state. Of all the things that come with an opening day, my favorite remains the optimism that fills this room.

None of us do this job alone. Our families and friends help make this possible. I know not all of our family members or friends can be with us today, but please join me in thanking all of those that help support the work we do.

We are here to commence the Eighty-Seventh General Assembly of the Great State of Iowa. What an amazing and enduring institution whose history we are now a part of.

We are gathered here with new and impressive titles. In a majestic building filled with beautiful stone, art, and capped with a brilliant golden dome. Amidst this grandeur, there is a simple but stark contrast that we must keep in mind. Our work here is service, and it should always be grounded in humility.

We have been sent here in service to our communities to represent the hopes of the good people in our districts. They are the reason we have gathered here, and they are what make this building and this state, great.

It is because of this that I am confident we arrive here with common goals. Yes, we will have our differences. Sometimes those differences will be profound, more often they will be minor and easily resolved. Through all of it, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are here in an effort to move our state forward.

With that in mind, as your Speaker I pledge to you that I will keep this chamber moving forward. We will tackle a variety of issues through a process that allows for input from voices both large and small.

This is important because if there is one thing I am confident in; it is that we have not been sent here to mark the passing of time. No, Iowans have sent us here to offer solutions and deliver results.

If we are to accomplish great things during this General Assembly, it means that we must accept the challenge of doing difficult things and having the courage to stay the course because we are acting with Iowans’ best interests at heart.

We have to challenge our assumptions, we have to reject the assertion that the status quo is acceptable, and most importantly, in order to be successful we must work together.

No one legislator is granted the authority to enact change themselves. Instead, we must listen and build consensus. Only then can we find a path forward and hope to deliver on Iowans’ expectations.

As we look to what our work will focus on this session, it is worth noting the energy that has driven our recent elections. Too many feel unheard, unrepresented, or have lost faith in their government’s ability to address their priorities.

They see things like:

  • A tax code that grows more complex each year and whose benefits seem designed for a select few.
  • Bureaucracies and policies based more on tradition and protectionism rather than common sense.
  • Budgets and spending decisions that lack the discipline Iowa’s families and businesses must use.

No wonder so many are disheartened. If we are here today to help address this unrest and this disconnect, then we need to embrace new ideas and be willing to take bold action.

It is the belief that we can do these difficult things that fills this room with optimism today. This is a unique opportunity and I believe with all my heart that this chamber and this building is filled with the right people for the right time.

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