Overview / Major Events
The 2016 Session of the 86th Iowa General Assembly opened for business at 10 am on Monday, January 11 and commenced with the formal resignation of House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and the unanimous election of Representative Linda Upmeyer as the Speaker of the Iowa House.
Speaker Paulsen had made his intentions to resign his position as Speaker known months ago and the House Republican caucus held an internal election to designate her successor. However, since the Speaker of the House is a position that can only be elected by the full House, the formal process could not occur until the first day of Session.
The election of Speaker Upmeyer made Iowa history in that she is the first female to ever serve in this, the highest office of the Iowa House. Her election was also nationally historic in that with her election, both she and her father, the late Del Stromer, have now both served as Speaker of the Iowa House. This is the first father-daughter combination to ever hold the same Speaker’s chair in the nation.
Representative Chris Hagenow was elected by his Republican colleagues as Majority Leader (a position Representative Upmeyer vacated when she ran for House Speaker).
- Representative Chuck Holz (Republican, Plymouth County) was elected to fill the vacancy that resulted from the resignation of Chuck Soderberg (who left the legislature to lead the association that represents the states rural electric cooperatives).
- Representative Tom Moore (Republican, Cass County) was elected to fill the vacancy that resulted from the death of Jack Drake (a long serving and well respected member of the Iowa House).
Governor Branstad’s Condition of the State Address
Now the nation’s longest serving Governor (meaning he has spent more time as Governor than any other individual in the history of the nation), Governor Terry Branstad delivered his 21st Condition of the State address to a joint convention of the House and Senate.
His message was focused on three primary priorities:
- A plan to extend for 20 years the penny sales tax dedicated to school infrastructure and share a portion of the annual growth in those tax collections to fund significant new investments in water quality initiatives ($4.7 billion over the life of the program – through 2049).
- The development of a State Energy Plan, under the direction of Lt. Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress – with a goal of having Iowa be the first state to have at least 40% of its entire energy needs being met from wind energy (currently, nearly 30% of Iowa’s energy comes from wind).
- Begin a justice reform process intended to ensure Iowa’s criminal justice system operates in a manner blind to racial and economic differences in our population with a focus on combating human trafficking and domestic violence and improving our Drug and Mental Health Courts.
State Budget Extremely Tight
In addition to his Condition of the State address, Governor Branstad also published his proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016 (FY 17). His budget calls for spending an additional $166 million (a 2.3% increase) for a net appropriation of $7.4 billion. If enacted, this budget would leave the state with an estimated ending balance of $112 million.
Much of the “new” spending is designated for two areas that have previously been approved by the General Assembly – the next installment in funding the multi-year teacher leadership education reform and the next installment in funding the multi-year property tax reform, both adopted in 2013.
Thus, this budget leaves very little additional resource for other areas of state government and suggests there will be little room for new programs funded through the state’s general fund.
Efforts on Behalf of Community Bankers of Iowa:
- The Credit Union Division filed legislation SSB 3018, an omnibus bill that changes a number of state regulations regarding credit unions. Stay tuned for an analysis of this bill in next week’s report.
View the Legislative Bill Tracker.