Iowa lawmakers begin 2018 legislative session

Iowa State Capitol (Photo: Caroline Cummings)

With the sound of a gavel, Iowa lawmakers began the 2018 legislative session Monday with the Republican-controlled legislature planning a conservative, pro-business agenda, hoping it can build off of what it accomplished last year.

"We must continue to boldly lead and always challenge yesterday’s voices who seek to turn the calendar back. We will lead by looking ahead and always asking, 'What’s next?'" said House Majority Leader Rep. Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights, in his opening remarks.

What’s next could be tax reform. Hagenow said he looks forward to a “broad conversation” about changing Iowa’s tax code and other Republican leaders echoed the same like Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, in his remarks to the senate chamber.

"Tax relief is about emboldening our middle class and encouraging our citizens to invest in themselves, their local businesses and our state," Dix said.

Republican lawmakers are also committed to workforce development, which is also a priority for Governor Kim Reynolds.

"We have so much talent in this state, we cannot let it slip away. We must connect today’s workforce with training and certification so they can achieve that dream: a career and security for their families," said House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake.

Democrats responded criticizing Republicans for mismanaging the budget, which has run into problems because slower-than-expected revenue growth in the state. They also called for a renewed commitment to education and stressed fixing Medicaid problems in the state, which some Republicans admit needs work.

"It’s up to us to fix these problems this session -- and quickly -- before more Iowans die unnecessarily," said House Democratic Leader Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, who is a social worker.

The two parties greatly differ on most policy, but legislators on both sides of the aisle underscored the importance of working together for Iowans.

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