The 83rd General Assembly opened the 2009 legislative session at the State Capitol today with a focus on helping Iowans recover from the natural disasters last summer and the difficult economic times.

“Thousands of Iowans are still struggling from last summer’s devastating floods and tornadoes that caused billions of dollars in damages. Our top priority this session is to help Iowans rebuild and recover,” said House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque.

“Of the 46 states currently facing economic hardship, Iowa is in a better position than almost any other state to weather this economic storm. We are one of only a few states that are now net exporters of energy – our investments in ethanol and wind development are beginning to bear fruit and these investments will continue to bring jobs to our state. I believe our future looks bright,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines.

Last fall, House Democrats outlined a Plan to Secure Iowa’s Economic Future to guide their work during the 2009 legislative session. The goal is to help middle class families and Iowa businesses succeed in today’s global economy. The plan includes making Iowa an energy independent “green” state, creating new jobs, expanding job training, reducing commercial property taxes, and providing a quality and affordable education for students.

“We have some trying times ahead of us, and it will take a concerted effort to get us through the difficult decisions that confront us in the weeks and months ahead. Nobody could have predicted the economic downturn, nor the devastating natural tragedies of this past summer. There is work to do and problems to solve, and we will do both because we are all Iowans,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Polly Bukta of Clinton.

The 2009 Legislature is scheduled to end on May 1, 2009.