The 2013 Iowa Legislature convened at 10 am today. There are 26 new members of the Iowa House this year. The 110 day session is scheduled to adjourn on May 3rd.

Here is House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy’s Opening Day Remarks:

Thank you Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, Ladies and Gentleman of the House.

First, congratulations to all of the newly elected Representatives. Today should be a special day for you and your loved ones. Also, Congratulations to Speaker Paulsen, Majority Leader Upmeyer, and Speaker Pro-Tem Olson. I look forward to working with you once again.

Mr. Speaker, House Democrats are ready to go to work.

Two years ago, I issued a statement during our opening day ceremony. Today, two years later, I’d like to paraphrase that statement now: House Democrats are ready to work with you in a bi-partisan way to move this great state forward. We are ready to focus on the important issues such as education, health care, public safety and a clean environment. Each and every day that House Democrats show up to work and find that the majority party is ready to work with us in a bi-partisan way on these and other important issues, then Mr. Speaker, you will receive a helping hand from us. But be mindful, however, if a day comes when House Democrats show up to work and instead find that the House ship has steered into stormy waters— then House Democrats will attempt to steer that ship out of those stormy waters, away from the extreme…back to the mainstream.

In my opinion…far too many of those days occurred over the past two years.

Now, today, let’s turn the page.

In a legislative publication I was reading yesterday, I learned that Iowa is one of only 3 states that has a legislature that is under divided control. Clearly, Iowans expect us to work together. Does anyone really believe anymore that Iowa is a so-called red state or a blue state? Looking at the results of the last several elections, it is clear that Iowa is the “purpleist” of purple states. Iowans expect us to work together. I think most would also agree that while Iowans would not expect us to forsake our principles, they would expect us, when needed, to find common ground and to moderate.

Let’s work together this year in a spirit of compromise and common ground.

Next week, on Tuesday, a special election will occur to replace Representative Brian Quirk. After the votes are tallied and a winner is declared, the winner will come to Des Moines to be sworn-in. That swearing-in will occur many days after the pomp and circumstance and lofty speeches of our opening week. As that new legislator begins his committee work, let’s let him be surprised at the level of bi-partisanship and civility he finds. That it is real… and was not merely buzzwords in our opening day speeches. Let’s work together this year so that when the session is over we have not stories of partisan red meat to deliver to our political partisans back home, but instead stories of substantive success.

To that end, House Democrats pledge to work in a bipartisan way with the majority party and Governor Branstad to strengthen our educational system. Let us pass something in this regard we can all be proud of. Let us also work together to strengthen our mental health delivery system so that the most vulnerable amongst us are properly cared for and treated. Let us ensure that the transition between our pre-civil war prison to our new maximum security facility is done as smoothly as possible and in a way that ensures public safety. Also, let us work together to ensure clean air and clean water and fully fund the programs that maintain our trails, watersheds, and maintain our state parks.

Congratulations once again to all the legislators and their families. I look forward to working with all of you this year to make Iowa an even better place to live.

Mr. Speaker, as I said at the beginning of my speech, House Democrats are ready to go to work. Now Let’s get to work!

Thank you Mr. Speaker.