Leaders call for tax cuts, workforce solutions, in opening of 2022 legislative session

The 2022 session convened Monday — in their opening remarks, leadership from both parties shared what they hope to accomplish in the next 100 days.


Grace Smith

House speaker Pat Grassley speaks to start the opening of the 2022 Legislative Session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. Grassley addressed unemployment in Iowa and what can be done to help fix this issue. “There won’t be one single bill that solves this issue,” Grassley said. “It needs to be a holistic approach. We need to get creative and we need to work together along with the Governor as well as the Senate try to find solutions.”

Rylee Wilson, Managing Editor

DES MOINES — Opening the 2022 legislative session, Republican leaders, who are the majority party in both chambers, said top priorities for the session include returning surplus tax funds and addressing workforce shortages in the state. 

In his opening remarks Monday morning, House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, said the state’s $1 billion budget surplus must be returned to taxpayers. 

“This is something every Iowan can understand,” Grassley said. “The state is taking in more in tax money than it needs. And Iowans deserve their money back.”

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, also said that the Senate Republicans’ priority for the session is tax relief. 

It is more important now than ever for Iowans to keep what they earn and be motivated to join the workforce so our economy can continue to grow,” Whitver said in his opening remarks.
“Cutting taxes is not only good for the hard-working Iowans who earned it, but also for small businesses paying that same rate.” 

Republican leadership also spoke on promoting personal liberty and choice in Iowa. 

In a pre-session press conference on Jan. 4, Grassley said Republicans are prepared to act on federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, but will wait for the results of pending lawsuits against the mandates to propose legislation. 

RELATED: Iowa legislators say workforce issues a top priority for upcoming session

House Majority Leader Matt Winschitl, R-Missouri Valley, said in his opening remarks to the House that Republicans need to push back on mandates, though he did not specifically mention vaccines.

“We have to let them make the choices that’s right for them and their families as we move through this pandemic as they move through their everyday life, just trying to hold on to the American dream,” he said. 

Both Democratic and Republican leaders said addressing workforce shortages in the state are another top priority for the session. 

“We can’t solve the workforce shortage without affordable child care, and I feel our caucus has taken tremendous leadership on this issue,” Grassley said. 

Leadership from both parties said lawmakers need to take a multifaceted approach to solve issues in the workforce. 

“Iowa companies continue to have ‘help wanted’ signs in the windows, and they’re pleading with us to do all we can to help them find workers,” House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said in her opening remarks. “Certainly, workforce challenges are happening across the country, which is why it’s so important that we work holistically to address this crisis in Iowa.” 

Grassley said in his remarks that there are 110,000 unfilled job openings in the state, and 64,000 unemployed Iowans. 

He said providing affordable child care is key to getting more people into the workforce.

“This is not an issue that the Republican caucus has really talked about until two elections ago, when we had a class of members come in that made that a priority and an issue that our caucus needs to focus on,” Grassley said about child care. “I’m thankful that we did that and we’ve taken that and run with it.” 

While leaders in both parties have filling more jobs as a priority, Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said Republican policies are detering young people from choosing to work in Iowa. 

“We’ve been told it will be more of the GOP Greatest Hits this session: more attacks on LGBTQ Iowans, more gasoline on the culture war fire, and more attacks on the first amendment,” Wahls said in his opening remarks. 

Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said parents need to be able to protect their children by removing them from school districts where they feel they are exposed to obscene content. 

In a November Facebook post, Chapman said he would draft legislation to make distributing obscene material in schools a felony.

At a Jan. 4 press conference, Sen. Amy Sinclair, chair of the Senate Education Committee, said her highest priority for the session will be to introduce a parent’s Bill of Rights so parents can be informed about school curriculum. 

“We can and must tear down the financial barriers that prevent parents from making this decision,” Chapman said in his opening remarks to the Senate. “We must hold those who distribute this repulsive and criminal content to minors accountable.”