By Jeff Shipley
Quote to ponder: “A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
My first two weeks as a legislator have been a wonderful learning experience. Like everything in life, the challenge is always finding your authentic voice and having the confidence to use it. I’ve been very pleased with my progress in getting to know fellow legislators and connecting on a level deeper than politics.
Relationships are critical. The most valuable currency at the capitol is trust and reputation. My priority is to develop the reputation of a fresh young thinker who articulates a peaceful and prosperous vision for our society ... and also represents a radical departure from the status quo.
Political institutions exist to adjudicate power and govern. I’m hopeful to appeal to man’s better nature of self-government and honor the laws inherent in creation. What frustrates me the most in our politics, is that our political dialogue and the realm of “acceptable opinions” is so narrowly construed, that honest and constructive conversations rarely happen. Our political debates are reduced to merely deciding how much more money we can throw at problems. I’m eager to broaden the discussion across the board.
To accomplish this, I presently have at least 40 legislative proposals that will be enrolled into the Iowa House. For comparison, my predecessor had two. Some are very well crafted policy proposals that are worthy of becoming law. Others are designed to broaden the debate when it comes to identifying areas of improvement in our government.
Top of my agenda is empowering customers to keep their analog utility meters. Second is our “Iowans Access to Alternative Healthcare Act” which would allow a licensure carveout to empower alternative health practitioners. I’m optimistic that we’ll make great progress on both of those issues this year.
Gov. Kim Reynolds outlined a bipartisan agenda addressing the critical needs of education and healthcare, particularly mental health. I remain impressed with the Governor’s focus on bringing all sides to the table to move Iowa forward. Her proposal to grant felons the right to vote is not only very good politics to get both parties to work together, but also sound policy that highlights the beauty of redemption, forgiveness, and second chances to those who have paid their debts to society.
Gov. Reynolds is continuing to prioritize additional spending on education. I was concerned that her budget proposal was favoring the Board of Regents State Universities at the expense of our community colleges. I believe that our community college system is dollar for dollar the best investment we can make in education today. I was glad to attend Gov. Reynolds’s legislative coffee meeting this past Thursday where I relayed my concern to her directly. She assured me that our ‘Future Ready Iowa’ will more than make up for any differences in funding levels. I trust Governor Reynolds and respect the level of focus she is placing on rural Iowa.
I still believe the biggest political issue facing our society is the ability for us to have respectful and honest conversations with those who have differing points of view. While campaigning for elected office, my heart would sink with sadness at how many people are closed off and have no idea how to have a conversation on politics. But it’s not their fault. We’ve been taught our whole life not to talk about “religion and politics,” and now we find ourselves in a place where we desperately need to talk about these things, but no one knows how and everyone is afraid of it!
To this end, I highly recommend Better-Angels.org, and want to thank and congratulate Joe and Julie Mandarino for their leadership in healing our political dialogue through this organization. Promoting civility in politics is a tremendously difficult undertaking and I’m amazed by Joe and Julie’s ambition and progress.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve.
- Jeff Shipley (R-Fairfield) represents District 82 in the Iowa House of Representatives. The district includes Davis and Van Buren counties, and the western two-thirds of Jefferson County. Shipley can be reached at email@example.com.