(DES MOINES)—House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Garner) delivered opening remarks to the Iowa House of Representatives today. The following are her remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Thank you Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen of the House, and guests, welcome to the 84th General Assembly.
As we assemble here today, I am reminded of my first day as a freshman legislator. I was caught off guard when Speaker Rants called me back to his office before the swearing in. Here I was, I hadn’t even been here a day and I must be making mistakes already.
Well, despite my dread, what actually awaited me in the Speaker’s office was a pleasant surprise. My parents had driven back from Texas, where they had gone for the winter, to be here with me. They had come to show how proud they were of me that day, and even though my father isn’t here at my side, I know he is very proud today as well.
He and my mother love Iowa, this Capitol, and the people who have served here over the years.
My father showed me that this is the very best job and the most rewarding work a person can have the honor of undertaking.
He also showed me that even though you may have spirited and substantive disagreements with colleagues, it should not preclude you from also sharing admiration and respect for each other.
He showed me this is hard work and that it takes the support of friends and family. We are surrounded today by the people who love us and who gave up family dinners, summer vacations, and so much more to allow us to serve. Thank you so much for your love and support.
I stand here today as the first woman to serve as the Majority Leader of the Iowa House of Representatives. People often ask if I enjoy being the first woman to serve in this role – of course I do. What an honor. But I suspect I would enjoy it just as much if I were a man too.
In all things, someone gets the privilege to be the first. I want to thank the members of my caucus for their progressive act and for giving me this privilege. I am humbled by this opportunity.
It took courage from a lot of strong women before me to break down barriers and create opportunities like this. Women like Iowa’s own Carrie Chapman Catt, who was a leading advocate for women’s voting rights. It should be with pride that we highlight milestones like today’s to our daughters and granddaughters, as we reinforce to them that nothing in this country is out of their reach.
It is both exciting and sobering to see everyone sworn in today. You are to be commended. It takes a lot of courage to put your name on the ballot, to open yourself up to criticism and accept the possibility of rejection. My colleagues, you are here today because you had the courage to take that chance.
But I offer a warning – the public’s confidence in institutions like ours is historically low. This is because there is a gap between what they want us to accomplish and what they believe we will accomplish. To restore confidence we must have the courage to tackle the difficult issues of our day.
The government has spent too much and saved too little, become too large and too invasive. We can kick the can down the road, which is what the public assumes we will do, or we can have the courage to lead. That will mean making tough decisions. Government programs are created with noble goals, but in a time when the people of the state have had to tighten their belts, we must do the same.
We must address the priorities of state government. Part of this discussion will begin in earnest right away with the Taxpayers First Act, but it should be the overriding theme of all our work here this year. In this chamber, we should embrace the principles of limited government that our nation was founded upon.
We live in a time of economic turmoil and uncertainty. We must not sit idly by and expect that to improve. We have to realize that we have the opportunity and the responsibility to lead an economic recovery and to put Iowans back to work.
Let’s give Iowa the most competitive business climate in the nation. We can start right away by proudly advertising that here in Iowa – we are a Right-to-Work state. Let’s get government out of the way so that we encourage job creation and investment in this state. And finally, let’s give Iowans a voice by following through on our promise to give them the chance to vote on the definition of marriage.
None of this will be easy, but it is what the people of Iowa have sent us here to do. I am optimistic that we can put our differences aside, work together and accomplish great things.
We are truly blessed to stand here today, in the People’s House. While we are here, let us have the courage to do the people’s work. If we are successful, Iowa’s best days are ahead.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.