The 2012 legislative session finally ended in the middle of last week, giving 125 state lawmakers a chance to return to their districts — and focus on getting reelected in the fall. 

Eight state senators and 17 members of the Iowa House are retiring from the legislature and last week was an ending for them. Nostalgia ran high in the Senate last Wednesday, where Senate President Jack Kibbie, one of the retirees, said farewell.

“It’s time to go home,” Kibbie said, to applause.

But it was a different story in the Iowa House as the party leaders there gave speeches, laying out campaign strategy.

“The election will be just under six months from now,” House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy said to open his remarks. “…I think the case that House Democrats are going to be making to voters, the question that I hope is on the voter’s mind is the following: is there too much partisanship and a focus on divisive issues occurring in our capitol in Des Moines?”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha — the highest-ranking Republican — made clear Republicans on the 2012 campaign trail plan to promise voters tax cuts: “$390 million should be returned to the taxpayers through broad-based tax relief and this will be this body’s first order of business next year…All Iowans deserve to see tax relief. It helps Iowa’s economy and puts people back to work. House Republicans will not be deterred or distracted from this goal. We will be back next year continuing our fight for the hard-working taxpayers of Iowa.”

AUDIO of speeches from McCarthy, House GOP Leader Linda Upmeyer & House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (in the order they were delivered last Wednesday); mp3 runs 18 minutes.