This post was updated Monday, Jan. 13 at 4:52 p.m.
The Iowa House of Representatives officially elected Rep. Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, as the new Speaker of the House when the 2020 legislative session began Monday morning.
“Over the next 100 days…let’s make sure that we show Iowans that we are not like Washington, D.C.,” Grassley said in his first speech as speaker.
“Less partisan games, less political theater, more results for Iowans. Let’s strengthen Iowa’s workforce and improve our education system. Let’s make health care more affordable and pass a responsible budget that puts taxpayers first.”
Grassley is a 36-year-old farmer who was first elected to the House in 2006, and went on to chair a powerful committee that crafts the state budget. He said that taught him the importance of building consensus among House Republicans.
“Now that was at a smaller scale, obviously, and there’ll be more decisions and bigger decisions to make,” Grassley said. “But I think it really prepared me well for this role.”
He is stepping into the top role in the House at the beginning of the fourth consecutive year of full Republican control of the statehouse.
Grassley follows former Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, who stepped down from the position last fall. She said it was to spend more time with her family.
Delivering her final speech from the speaker’s chair Monday, Upmeyer said serving as speaker was a “tremendous honor.”
“As the first woman to serve as Speaker of the Iowa House, I hope my time has inspired girls and young women,” Upmeyer said. “When you dream big and work hard, nothing is unattainable.”
She said she believes her late father, who served as speaker in the 1980s, would be proud of what the House achieved under her leadership.
After Upmeyer’s remarks, Grassley walked to the speaker’s chair escorted by his grandfather, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.
“Well I’m very proud of Pat not only for being selected to be speaker, but I’ve seen him grow over the years that he first approached me 14 years ago saying he’d like to run for the state House of Representatives,” Sen. Grassley said.
Sen. Grassley, who previously served 16 years in the Iowa House, said Speaker Grassley is prepared to lead the House and maintain the Republican majority in 2020.
The House is made up of 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats.
House Minority Leader Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, said he looks forward to working with the new speaker. His speech to start the session also emphasized workforce, education and health care. But he said a lot of Iowans are “struggling to get by.”
"Our vision, our focus, must be on Iowans like these," Prichard said. "We can and should work together to improve their lives. If we can put egos aside, I know that we are up for the task at hand this session."