Thank you, Mr. President. Friends and Colleagues:
I know we are about to drop the gavel for the final time on this year’s legislative session and I know we are all a little tired but before we go home to the people in our districts, I think it might be necessary to look back at the last 104 days and provide the people of Iowa with some needed perspective. After all, it is the people of Iowa who are our employers and it is the people of Iowa who make our communities unique and our state something we can all be proud of.
These three million people elected us to act as their voice and their vote. They sent us to represent them. They are the hardworking people who truly make this state work. Yet, many Iowans have been left wondering whether their opinion really matters and if legislators are really listening to them.
It would be a mistake for us to forget what our very own Constitution says in Article 1, Section 2. The first sentence simply states: “All political power is inherent in the people.” Government is supposed to be of the people and for the people but sometimes this session I was left wondering at times if this was government versus the people.
We have witnessed the frustrations of so many Iowans who just want their government to live within its means. This Legislature has now spent more money than any Legislature in the 163 year history of the state of Iowa. There has been too much spending and too much borrowing and as a result, Iowans have become discouraged. As a result, we witnessed several thousand Iowans gather not only here at the capitol – but across Iowa and this country on April 15 to protest the spending and taxation policies of their government. They feel like their government is not listening to them.
When hundreds of Iowans packed the gallery of the House of Representatives to show their disappointment with a proposal to eliminate federal deductibility, force Iowans to pay a tax on a tax and raise taxes on Iowa families and employers in literally every single tax bracket, they were removed from the chambers and the doors were locked. The public was removed from a public hearing – 600 employers were kicked out of the people’s house by one employee.
Iowa families and employers are making tough decisions every day and yet they witness state government continue to tax and spend and borrow and spend while all this spending is not the solution needed to grow Iowa and bring about prosperity and opportunity.
There are over 80,000 Iowans out of work and yet there was no major piece of legislation passed that would help get those Iowans back into sustainable and permanent jobs. Iowans asked us for leadership on creating jobs – not creating government work through overwhelmingly unpopular bonding and debt proposals. Did we answer their call?
Earlier this month, seven elites on the Supreme Court struck down Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act and opened up the definition of marriage to be something other than between one man and one woman. For the past three weeks, Iowans have been clamoring for a voice on this issue just as they have wanted a say in other important issues too. Yet, Senators in this body are obstructing the opportunity for the people of Iowa – the people we are here to represent – to have a say in this important and emotional issue. Before you leave this building today, do you want to go home without beginning the process of giving the people of Iowa a chance to vote on a Marriage Amendment? Ignoring the voices of the Iowans we are here to represent is a troubling trend that certainly needs to end.
Just over three months ago, I stood here on the floor of the Iowa Senate on the first day of session and said that we, as Republicans, would work tirelessly to offer solutions that would grow Iowa – not grow government and give a voice back to the people.
I am proud that we, as Republicans and Democrats, were able to find plenty of opportunities where we were able to find common ground and work together to deliver true bi-partisan results for the people of Iowa – the people we were sent here to represent. Yet, we all know there are major differences between the two parties and I think those differences in priorities were also apparent this session.
As I mentioned on the first day, Senate Republicans’ over-arching goal has been and will continue to be the need to re-establish a concept that I believe has been forgotten in recent years: the notion that it is Iowans who run government and not the other way around. Though I am confident and optimistic that we can eventually be successful in fully returning the government to its rightful owners – the people of Iowa – I do believe we have plenty of room for improvement.
I just want to conclude by reminding you of a wonderful Iowa story. I told this story on the first day of the session and I think it will serve as something to think about every day as we work during this interim to start to developing policy for next year’s session.
Economic opportunity is the great equalizer in a free society and it is economic opportunity that turns a dream into a business. It was a dream that David Vredenburg, a good southern Iowa boy, had in the 1930s. Months after the worst day on Wall Street, Mr. Vredenburg and a friend, Charles Hyde, opened a small general store. They opened a store at a time when the only thing more scare than money was hope. As unemployment began ramping up to one quarter of the population and a different bank closed every day the southern Iowa dreamer kept working. Today, as you know, Mr. Vredenburg’s legacy that began as a depression-era general store has become 220 Hy-Vee stores across the Midwest and boasts 55,000 thankful employees.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to leave here today with a sense of optimism because I believe in this state. I believe every community has many future David Vredenburgs and Charles Hydes and I hope that we can, in the future, work to make it easier for those Iowans to fully realize their dreams and aspirations.We must never forget that Iowans have common sense, are hardworking are some of the best educated in the world. This state has boundless potential and opportunity and I look forward to working to unleash the ingenuity, creativity and imagination that exists all throughout our great state.
Until we meet again, lets work to restore the public’s trust by truly having a government that’s responsive to the people’s wishes and needs. Thank you
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