The 90th General Assembly convened for the 2023 legislative session on Monday, January 9. Monday consisted of short organizing sessions in the House and Senate and speeches by leadership in both parties. Priorities set by the Republican majorities in both chambers were laid out in opening day remarks. Major topics for the 2023 legislative session include:
The full text of each leadership address can be found below:
Condition of the State
On Tuesday, Governor Reynolds delivered her 2023 Condition of the State. The Governor outlined accomplishments of the past year and highlighted her priorities for 2023, which include:
- Supporting success at school
- Promoting healthy families and communities
- Building the workforce through apprenticeships
- Aligning government to better serve Iowans
- Combatting the fentanyl crisis
- Protecting state investments
Simultaneously, the Governor published her Vision for Iowa, the Governor’s proposed budget for FY 2024. Governor Reynolds proposed an $8.48 billion budget for fiscal year 2024, an increase of 3.3%, with an ending balance expected to be about $1.99 billion. A complete Iowa Budget Report can be found here.
Lawmakers were eager to get started among the many speeches and ceremonies at the start of session. Both chambers wasted no time introducing bills and convening subcommittee meetings, almost 200 bills were introduced during the first week, with the House introducing 76 bills and the Senate introducing 117 (the total number of bills introduced in Week 1 in 2022).
The legislature will observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, January 16, and gavel back in for Week 2 in the afternoon of Tuesday, January 17.
Executive Branch Update
Installment of Executive Branch Officers
On Tuesday, five Iowa statewide officeholders were sworn in. Brenna Bird took over as Attorney General after defeating Tom Miller, the longest serving State Attorney General in U.S. history; she is also the first female Attorney General in the state. She joins Roby Smith, the new Treasurer of State, Mike Naig, the incumbent Secretary of Agriculture, and Paul Pate, the incumbent Secretary of State as the Republican statewide officeholders. The only Democrat to hold statewide is Rob Sand, Auditor of State.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds was sworn-in for her second full term in office during a formal inauguration ceremony at the Iowa Events Center on Friday morning.
Supporting Success at School: Education Savings Plan
In concert with her Condition of the State, Governor Reynolds introduced her Education Savings Plan bills HSB1 and SSB1022. These bills create the Students First Act, establishing educational scholarships for K-12 students that can be used to pay for private schools; the bill establishes a fund controlled by the Department of Education to make payments to the Education Savings Account. In her proposed budget, Governor Reynolds proposes $100 million for the ESA.
The Senate made quick work, passing SSB1022 out of subcommittee on Thursday afternoon after hearing from many public commenters in attendance.
ESA was a priority for the Governor in 2022 and became the main sticking point in the path to adjournment; it then became the focal point for many primaries after the 2022 legislative session.
Aligning Government to Better Serve Iowans: Executive Order Number 10
The Governor signed Executive Order Number 10, putting a moratorium on administrative rulemaking. This initiative will institute a comprehensive review of all existing administrative rules.
Iowa’s Administrative Code contains over 20,000 pages and 190,000 restrictive terms, putting undue burden on Iowans and the state’s economy, increasing costs for employers, slowing job growth, and impacting private sector investments,” stated Gov. Reynolds. “In Iowa, we’re taking a commonsense approach that gets government out of the way and leads to a more robust economy in every community.
This significant move underscores the Governor’s priority of aligning government to better serve Iowans.
Building Workforce Through Apprenticeships
During her Condition of the State address, Governor Reynolds announced an additional $12 million in funding for the Heath Careers Registered Apprenticeship Program (a total of $15 million). The program, introduced last year, aims to help students pursue health careers to strengthen Iowa’s health care workforce, including EMTs, RNs, Direct Support Professionals, Behavioral Health & Substance Abuse Specialists, and other critical areas. The program will also offer additional health care certifications addressing other critical needs across the state.
On Wednesday, coinciding with her Condition of the State address, the governor issued a press release containing information about the grant opportunity. Applications for this year’s Health Careers Registered Apprenticeship Grant Program are accepted starting January 11, through noon, March 9, 2023. Visit this link for grant documents and information on how to apply.
The 2023 Iowa Legislative Session is slated for 110 days. The full 2023 Session Timetable can be found here.