First Week of the 2021 Legislative Session is In the Books

January 14, 2021

Lawmakers completed their first week of business in Des Moines. Legislative leaders in both parties delivered their opening speeches on Monday, while Gov. Reynolds delivered her Condition of the State Address on Tuesday evening.

The governor laid out a number of key priorities in her address to the General Assembly. Some of those include:

  • Asking for $450 million over the next three years for broadband deployment.
  • Requesting $3 million to help jump-start the Child Care Challenge Fund, which incentivizes employers to provide childcare for their employees.
  • Asking for $23 million for the Last-Dollar Scholarship Program, which puts money in the hands of students seeking education in a high-demand field.
  • Calling for the elimination of the tax triggers from the 2018 tax reform legislation. This would ensure those tax cuts do begin to take place in tax year 2023.
  • Calling for education reforms, including ensuring students have the option of learning in person 100% of the time, making open enrollment available in all school districts, creating educational savings accounts and providing more flexibility to expand public charter schools.
  • Asking for more money to fund mental health regions over the next two fiscal years.

The governor has put forward a very robust agenda, and ABI is pleased a number of her priorities fall in line with ABI’s priorities. 

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) spoke about the successes Republicans have had over the last four years. He stated a priority for him and his caucus is always going to be tax relief and putting more money into the pockets of Iowans. He also put a spotlight on education and the need for students to be taught in person in the classroom. Senate President Jake Chapman (R-Adel) spoke about Iowa’s proud history and the need to reduce and even eliminate some of the tax burdens in our state. Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (D-Coralville) talked about different ways the Legislature must help Iowans as they continue to fight COVID-19.

On the House side, Speaker Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford) emphasized the continued importance of sound budgeting, prioritizing the expansion of safe and affordable child care including addressing the cliff effect and putting children back in school. Majority Leader Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) spoke about how the recent election results affirm what House Republicans have accomplished and focused on during the last number of years. Minority Leader Todd Prichard (D-Charles City) said the first priority of the session must be to get the pandemic under control and that a COVID-19 relief package should be focused on long-term recovery efforts.

You can view the opening speeches of the governor and legislative leaders below: