Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Each time you take the oath of office, you literally feel the mantle of responsibility coming down on your shoulders. You also feel the incredible blessing of trust your citizens have given you to do what you think is right for them. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to continue serving you. I will do my best.

This year my son Nick held my mother’s Bible for me to take the oath on. It was one of my life’s most beautiful moments to have him and Alice there with me. There were some moist eyes on all our parts…okay tears. There were tears and full hearts.

In the House we hit the ground running. Right away we got to work on our budget for the year we’re in. We develop our budgets from an estimate the Revenue Estimating Conference gives us every quarter. In order to develop our budget we are required to use the December estimate, unless the March estimate is less. For the 2016/2017 budget we’re in, we used the March number. Unfortunately the REC over-estimated our economy and taxes coming in, so we have to cut $118 million dollars right away. We spent most of the week working on the details of how we can make cuts that honor our promises and hurt the least amount of people. We don’t have any final decisions yet, but the House presented their plan to the Senate and we’re working with the Governor.

We also had joint sessions with the Governor’s Condition of the State address and the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court’s on the Condition of the Judiciary. There were concerns over the 2017/2018 budget because Iowa is growing, but not at the rate expected. And we have to use the estimates again, that have not been the most reliable number to use. Just like at home when we don’t bring as much money in as we expected, we tighten our belts. Dad and Mom don’t like giving up on plans and the kids surely don’t either, but for the good of your family, you do what need to do. I’m trying to look at it like an opportunity to make things more efficient and streamlined for Iowans. We will get it done and I’m sure you’ll hear more from me on this subject.

Over the last 12 years, we have been very lucky with my picks for legislative clerks and this year isn’t any different. Our new legislative assistant is Phil Thompson. Phil graduated from Jefferson-Scranton High School in rural Green County. He joined the Army and after completing Airborne and Ranger School was immediately deployed to Iraq. Phil attended West Point for two years and finished at the University of Iowa before getting involved in public policy. Not only is he completely over qualified, he has presence. We are very lucky to have him on our team.

Also on our team is Drake intern, Jessie Benson. Her Dad and I have known each other for 12 years. He works for Iowa Homeland Security and gives regular reports to our committees. Very efficient and trustworthy. After giving Jessie a project on Thursday morning and she turned in results by afternoon, it is apparent she has her father’s qualities and will work hard for us.

Senator Kapucian met with Representative Maxwell and I on Thursday. Although he wouldn’t say so to you, he was sick as a dog. Please send him your good thoughts and prayers for a swift recovery. We have a lot to do and need him, all of us at 100%. If you have any problems or concerns, you can email me at dawn.pettengill@legis.iowa.gov or call me at 515-281-7487. Also if you know of other constituents who would like our email newsletter, have them do the same.

Stay warm!

Dawn