Many Republican legislators gathered with lobbyists this morning for a breakfast fundraiser to mark the start of the 2011 legislative session.  

House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer was upbeat as she began her remarks: “Isn’t this a great day to be a Republican? I tell you, I never get tired of saying that!” Republicans are in high-spirits, as a Republican takes over the governor’s office at week’s end and Republicans have a commanding majority of 60 seats in the Iowa House.

Upmeyer said today is a day for the G.O.P. to celebrate, and she said the Republicans in the House are ready for action. “The energy is boundless.  The excitement is nearly palpable when these people are together,” Upmeyer said. “And this is what I know:  I know (House Republicans) are ready to go to work for the people of Iowa, starting today.”

Republican Leader Paul McKinley said Republicans came close, but Democrats still hold control of the Iowa Senate by a narrow margin. “Senate Republicans fell but 71 votes short of ending Mike Gronstal’s senate monarchy,” McKinley said.  Gronstal is the majority leader of the state senate, the man who controls the debate agenda. 

Speaker Kraig Paulsen is the top Republican in the Iowa House and he told the crowd what he expects for the 2011 session. “When we’re done…we’re going to be able to look back and say we have a state government that’s smaller, smarter, more efficient, more transparent, takes less money out of Iowans’ pockets; that employers are now in a position to invest in our state, invest in our workforce; that they have more stable environment and, of course, House Republicans will pass a resolution letting Iowans vote on the definition of marriage,” Paulsen said, as the crowd applauded his final promise. 

Paulsen did not mention the potential impeachment of the four justices who remain on the Iowa Supreme Court.  Some Republicans in the Iowa House are pushing to impeach the justices because of the court’s 2009 ruling on gay marriage.

Democrats in the Iowa House and Senate held pre-session fundraisers on Sunday in Des Moines.

Listen to the comments from the GOP here: GOP Breakfast 11:58 MP3