Week 1 Legislative Update
January 16, 2023
The first session of the 90th General Assembly convened at 10:00 am on January 9th. The first day of the session saw opening speeches from leadership in both the majority and minority party, highlighting their goals and priorities for the upcoming session. For the seventh year in a row, Republicans maintained control of the House, Senate, and Governor’s office.
During his opening comments, Speaker Pat Grassley applauded the Republican party for utilizing that trifecta in recent sessions.
“We’re not the only state that has a trifecta. Don’t kid yourself, but we’re one of the only, if not the only state that utilizes it every session… I think that’s why we’ve been so successful because we’ve utilized that majority.”
Republican leaders in both the House and Senate identified property tax reform and education reform as top priorities for 2023. Both chambers are expected to propose legislation aimed at lowering property taxes for Iowans in the coming weeks.
“Iowans pay some of the highest property taxes in the country, and the system responsible for that problem wasn’t built overnight, and the solution to it won’t be either,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said in his opening comments. “But I can tell you, Senate Republicans are up to the challenge on the best long-term strategy for Iowa taxpayers.”
Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls stated his party is supportive of changing Iowa’s property tax laws, so long as they support middle-class Iowans. “Senate Democrats will work with anyone on common-sense property tax reform, but we are not interested in tax giveaways that overwhelmingly benefit the ultrarich and big corporations.”
House File 1 was introduced on Wednesday and proposes reforming Iowa’s property tax laws by reducing the $5.40 levy, increasing transparency requirements, and capping assessment increases. The bill was introduced by all 34 members of the majority and referred to the Ways and Means committee.
Senator Amy Sinclair was elected to serve as the new Senate President following the 2022 midterm elections and emphasized advancing the Governor’s education reform legislation from 2022 would continue to be a priority for the Senate.
During the Condition of the State address, Governor Kim Reynolds introduced her proposed school choice legislation that would provide families in Iowa with state-funded private school scholarships. The proposal would allow every Iowa family to apply for a private school scholarship of $7,598 annually to cover tuition and other qualified expenses.
Governor Reynolds also announced her priorities to expand maternal health services in Iowa and reorganize state government, consolidating the number of state agencies from 37 to 16 and addressing Iowa’s Administrative Code.
On January 11th, Governor Reynolds signed an executive order placing a moratorium on all new administrative rulemaking and directing state agencies to review all existing rules. Iowa’s current Administrative Code is more than 20,000 pages. Agencies are required to re-promulgate the rules they want to keep and rules not formally adopted by December 31, 2026, are repealed.
In addition to the Condition of the State, legislators also heard from Major General Benjamin Corell on the Condition of the National Guard, and Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen on the Condition of the Judiciary.
All Senate and House standing committees met this week to introduce the committee members and satisfy organizational requirements.
Next week, legislators will begin holding subcommittee meetings as bills are introduced and assigned.