Below are Iowa House Leader Todd Prichard's Opening Remarks for the start of the 2019 Legislative Session.
Good morning, Madam Speaker and ladies and gentlemen of the Iowa House. We are assembled here today at the start of the 2019 legislative session to begin the people’s work, an honor that I, as well as my Democratic colleagues, are anxious to begin.
I first want to welcome the 22 new members of the Iowa House. Congratulations to each of you. As the new leader of House Democrats, I’m especially proud that we are the first caucus in Iowa history that has a majority of women. It’s a remarkable achievement and another step forward making sure that this body reflects the people of Iowa that we represent.
Now, with the election behind us, it is time to set aside petty politics and get to work on improving the lives of all Iowans: urban and rural, affluent and indigent, young and old. If we take one lesson from the recent campaigns, it is that the public is weary of hyper partisan politics. We are here to fulfill a higher purpose and have an awesome responsibility: to be servants of the people of Iowa.
It is also time to remind ourselves that we are all Iowans, first and foremost. United we stand, and divided we fall. We must remember our greatest strength as a state and as a nation is our diversity and openness. Liberty and freedom are more than empty words. They are guaranteed by our laws, and they are the hallmark of our values. Our motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain,” must be the words we live by. We will stand and we will fight for these values.
More than a century ago my family immigrated to this state with the desire for a better future. I am fortunate to be a beneficiary of their labor. I am determined to maintain a just state, a state that strives for equality for all, values education and learning, and respects the environment.
But make no mistake about it, the challenges and problems we face are immense. We have a public education system in need of resources , a health care system in crisis, a significant workforce shortage, and soil and water that needs attention if we expect it to sustain in the years to come. We have to balance and prioritize the state budget in a way that reflects Iowa’s values while ensuring our tax system is fair and equitable for everyone, not just for corporations and those at the top.
For too long, this Legislature has ignored the challenges Iowa families face today and focused on divisive issues, special interests, and the wealthy. The reality is the challenges we face can’t be solved behind closed doors with special interests and without input from the 100 members of this House who were elected to give a voice to their constituents.
That’s why this House must be focused on working together to improve the lives of everyday Iowans this year.
Democrats believe it’s time to get back to the basics in education, skills training, job creating, and affordable health care for Iowans. We will work to expand access to health care for all Iowans, whether they are urban or rural, rich or poor. We will work to expand educational opportunity and job training for all Iowans, whether they are in the K-12 system, community colleges, universities, or advanced job training programs.
We will fight for the rights of workers to be safe, and to be fairly compensated for their labor. We will demand access to domestic and foreign markets to improve our agricultural economy, while at the same time ensuring the health of our soil and water through sustainable agricultural production that protects our soil, water, and air.
As Representatives we are elected to speak for our home communities and districts. We are also stewards of this great State, its people and its land. When the session has ended, we cannot say, “We could have done more, had we worked together.”
As the Leader of the Minority party, I pledge to each of you that we will work in good faith with the Majority party to solve these problems. We look forward to work on the state’s toughest issues in a collaborative and meaningful way. Our constituents expect this of us, and our children deserve it.