Speaker Grassley’s Opening Remarks for the 2024 Legislative Session
(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Speaker of the House Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford) delivered opening remarks to the Iowa House of Representatives today. The following are his remarks, as prepared for delivery:
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Iowa House. Welcome back to the chamber for the 2024 Legislative Session.
Thank you for continuing to trust me with the honor of serving as Speaker of the House.
Majority Leader Windschitl - we’ve accomplished a lot together as leaders of this caucus. Let’s keep this good thing rolling.
Minority Leader Konfrst – I have a great deal of respect for you and the way you lead your caucus. I look forward to another session working with you toward solutions that benefit the state we all love.
I hope, like me, all of you enjoyed your time back home in your district. Between constituent meetings, the farm and my family, I was certainly kept busy.
I’ll tell ya - two teenage girls sure keeps me on my toes. But sometimes it’s my 9-year-old Chance that tests me most, and I think that’s probably because he’s a whole lot like my dad.
The first day back always carries an air of excitement. It’s great to see many of you again for the first time in a long time and get caught up on how we spent our interim. If you try and talk to me about yields, I’ll quickly change the subject to something else maybe like my daughter’s state championship volleyball team.
But all that time spent in the combine during the interim leaves me with plenty of time to think about the upcoming session. Some of my best ideas have come during the hours spent in the field, thinking about the input I hear from my constituents and all the members who share what they’re hearing across the state.
I don’t know if any of you have heard, but Iowa House Republicans represent all 99 of Iowa’s 99 counties. So we feel we have a good pulse on the concerns and priorities of Iowans as we set our agenda for this session.
Iowans have come to know our caucus as leaders who will be responsible with their tax money and defenders of their freedom. That will continue to be the case for as long as Iowans elect us as the majority party. In addition to those core tenets, we are embarking on a bold agenda for the 2024 Legislative Session guided by four themes we’ve heard about from Iowans.
When we released our list of priorities in December, one of our main themes was making sure Iowa is a safe place to live and raise a family. Unfortunately, the tragic shooting at Perry High School just four days ago has reinforced that this is more urgent than ever.
For all of us, the loss of life in Perry is top of mind as we begin session. People choose Iowa because our state is viewed as safe. So when we see these senseless acts of violence in our own home state, in our own schools, it shakes us to our core. In Iowa, every parent should be able to send their kids to school and trust that they will return home safe.
Our caucus talks a lot about keeping students safe. This means many things. It means investing in school security. It means prioritizing school resource officers. It means protecting children’s mental health. It means teaching resilience over victimhood. And it means ridding our classrooms and school libraries of inappropriate content.
I can’t wrap my head around how this issue of sexually explicit material in schools got so convoluted. I am still shocked that we actually have people willing to fight this hard to keep pornographic material in our schools. What is the educational value of oral sex scenes in a school library book? Have we lost our minds?
Last session, we passed a simple solution to protect Iowa’s students from inappropriate material. It should’ve been an easy policy for schools to implement. But instead, some chose to politicize this issue. And if we need to pass additional legislation this year to protect our kids from this over-sexualization, we will.
Outside of our schools, we will continue to differentiate ourselves from our neighbors to the north and to the east and their soft-on-crime policies. We’ve seen smash-and-grab mobs take over cities, not just on the coasts, but here in the Midwest. We’ve seen people turn their backs on law enforcement and act as though they are the enemy. Not here in Iowa.
We will prioritize a safe and secure Iowa with policies that get repeat offenders off the street. We’ll ensure the state is doing all it can to support law enforcement recruitment efforts and protections for these brave men and women.
Our second theme is ensuring Iowa’s Strong Economy.
Bidenomics has hit Iowans’ pocketbooks hard. House Republicans want to deliver relief that Iowans can feel as soon as possible. If you’ve come to know anything about our caucus’ tax proposals, you know it will be sustainable. This session, we’ll look at speeding up our previously passed tax cuts as quickly as we can.
Our counterparts in Minnesota’s Capitol building are making Iowa an even more appealing place to be able to support your family or run a business.
This session, we’ll explore policies that further incentivize businesses currently stuck in states like Minnesota – who take their policy cues from California – to bring their businesses and employees here to Iowa where they will have the freedom to thrive.
This session we will also focus on keeping government transparent and efficient. Last year, we consolidated our state government, making it more efficient and cost-effective. We can’t stop there. Iowans expect a transparent government that works for them.
Government agencies must make their tools and information easy to access and easy to understand.
Staffing shortages continue to put tremendous pressure on our nursing homes and hospitals. We need to pursue policies that help these critical industries ensure they can provide quality, consistent care at a reasonable cost to the Iowa taxpayers.
And finally, circling back to education. Our fourth and final theme is improving education outcomes for Iowa students. By many national rankings, Iowa’s K-12 Education system is slipping amongst its peers. We need to work with educators to ensure we are doing all we can to reverse that trend.
This session, we’ll dive into Iowa’s K-12 education standards to ensure they are setting our students and teachers up for success.
We have heard from so many teachers, who have to deal with so many distractions and behavioral issues, that they can’t spend enough time actually teaching their students. We want those teachers – who too often feel like no one has their back - to know that we hear you.
One of our focuses this session is empowering teachers and getting them the disciplinary tools and compensation they deserve.
Beyond K-12, it’s time for us to have a comprehensive review of our higher education system and ensure taxpayer dollars are going toward preparing our workforce, particularly in high-demand fields.
It’ll be a busy year. Much of what I just walked through may not be easy. But our caucus prides itself on our track record of delivering on the promises we make to Iowans. And we must continue to fulfill our commitments to the voters. I know this group is ready to get the job done.
Alright - That’s enough from me. Let’s get to work."