Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2016

The Iowa legislature’s 2016 session began on Monday. For the sixth year in a row, the 50 state senators include 26 Democrats and 24 Republicans. Just seven senators are women (six Democrats and a Republican), down from a high of ten women serving in the chamber during 2013 and 2014. All current senators are white. To my knowledge, the only African-American ever to serve in the Iowa Senate was Tom Mann, elected to two terms during the 1980s. No Latino has ever served in the Iowa House or Senate; Nathan Blake fell 18 votes short of becoming the first in 2014. No Asian-American has served in the state Senate since Swati Dandekar resigned in 2011.

I enclose below details on the Iowa Senate majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Senate committees. Little has changed since last year, in contrast to the Iowa House, which saw some big changes in the majority Republican caucus since the legislature adjourned in June.

Term limits are a terrible idea generally but would be especially awful if applied to the Iowa Senate, as the longest-serving current senator bizarrely advocated last year. The experience gap between Democrats and Republicans is striking. As detailed below, only four of the 24 Senate Republicans have ten or more years of experience in the Iowa legislature, compared to seventeen of the 26 Democrats. No current Iowa Senate Republican has more than 20 years legislative experience, whereas six Democrats do.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa Senate members include three Marks, three Bills, three Richards (who go by Rich, Rick, and Dick), two Mikes, two Toms, two Joes, and two men named Charles (one goes by Chaz).

Senate Democrats

First elected in 1982: Wally Horn (10 years previous service in Iowa House)

First elected in 1984: Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (two years in Iowa House)

First elected in 1994 special election: Bob Dvorsky (eight years in Iowa House)

First elected in 1994: Dick Dearden

First elected in 1996: Assistant Majority Leader Matt McCoy (four years in Iowa House)

First elected in 1998: Majority Whip Joe Bolkcom

First elected in a 2002 special election: Assistant Majority Leader Amanda Ragan

First elected in 2002: Assistant Majority Leader Bill Dotzler (six years in Iowa House), Herman Quirmbach, Joe Seng (two years in Iowa House), Tom Courtney

First elected in 2004: Jeff Danielson, Brian Schoenjahn

First elected in 2006: Rob Hogg (four years in Iowa House)

First elected in 2008: Senate President Pam Jochum (sixteen years in Iowa House), Senate President Pro Tempore Steve Sodders, Assistant Majority Leader Mary Jo Wilhelm

First elected in 2010: Tod Bowman

First elected in a 2011 special election: Liz Mathis

First elected in 2012: Janet Petersen (twelve years in Iowa House), Chris Brase, Rita Hart, Rich Taylor

First elected in 2014: Tony Bisignano (six years in Iowa House and four in Iowa Senate during 1980s and 1990s), Kevin Kinney, Chaz Allen

Senate Republicans

First elected in 1996: Jerry Behn

First elected in 2002: David Johnson

First elected in 2004: Brad Zaun

First elected in 2008: Assistant Minority Leader Randy Feenstra, Assistant Minority Leader Tim Kapucian

First elected in 2010: Minority Leader Bill Dix (ten years previous service in Iowa House), Assistant Minority Leader Rick Bertrand, Roby Smith, Bill Anderson, Mark Chelgren

First elected in 2011 special election: Minority Whip Jack Whitver

First elected in 2012: Dennis Guth, Mark Segebart, Jake Chapman, Amy Sinclair, Ken Rozenboom, Dan Zumbach, Mike Breitbach

First elected in 2012 special election: Charles Schneider

First elected in 2013 special election: Julian Garrett (three years service in the Iowa House)

First elected in 2014: Tom Shipley, Jason Schultz (six years in Iowa House), Tim Kraayenbrink

First elected in 2014 special election: Mark Costello

Iowa Senate Democratic leadership team

Majority Leader Mike Gronstal was first elected to the Iowa House in 1982 and won his first Senate election in 1984. He became minority leader in 2001, led Senate Democrats through two years of a 25-25 chamber in 2005 and 2006, and has been majority leader since the 2007 legislative session. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 8, covering most of Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County.

Senate President Pam Jochum was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2008, after serving for 16 years in the Iowa House. She is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 50, covering Dubuque.

President Pro Tempore Steve Sodders was first elected to the legislature in 2008. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 36, covering Marshall and Tama counties and part of Black Hawk County.

Majority Whip Joe Bolkcom was first elected in 1998 and represents Senate district 43, covering most of Iowa City in Johnson County.

Assistant majority leaders:

Bill Dotzler was first elected in 2002 and represents Senate district 31, covering a large area in Waterloo in Black Hawk County.

Matt McCoy has represented parts of Des Moines in the Iowa Senate since 1997. He represents Senate district 21, covering much of the south side of Des Moines and part of West Des Moines in Polk County.

Amanda Ragan was first elected in 2002 and represents Senate district 27, which includes Mason City and most of Cerro Gordo County as well as Franklin County and most of Butler County.

Mary Jo Wilhelm was first elected in 2008 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 26, covering Worth, Floyd, Chickasaw, Mitchell, and Howard counties, and parts of Cerro Gordo and Winneshiek. Wilhelm is the Democratic incumbent who won re-election by the smallest margin in 2012, but her only declared Republican opponent this year does not strike me as top-tier.

Iowa Senate Republican leadership team

Bill Dix was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010. He had previously served in the Iowa House for 10 years, retiring to run unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006. After a failed attempt to become minority leader in the fall of 2011, Dix was chosen for the position shortly after the 2012 general election. He represents Senate district 25, covering Hardin and Grundy counties and parts of Story and Butler counties.

Minority Whip Jack Whitver was first elected in a 2011 special election and represents Senate district 19, covering Ankeny and other parts of northern Polk County.

Assistant minority leaders:

Rick Bertrand was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010. Outside his district, he is best-known for being the only Iowa legislator ever to file a defamation lawsuit over a campaign commercial. (The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously dismissed his case, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.) Bertrand represents Senate district 7, covering most of Sioux City.

Randy Feenstra was first elected in 2008 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 2, covering Sioux, O’Brien, and Cherokee counties.

Tim Kapucian was first elected in 2008 from a district covering Benton and Grundy counties, most of Tama and part of Iowa County. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 38, covering all of Benton, Iowa and Poweshiek counties.

Charles Schneider was first elected in a 2012 special election after Republican Senator Pat Ward passed away. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 22, covering Windsor Heights, Clive, Waukee, and parts of West Des Moines in Polk and Dallas counties.

Dan Zumbach was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election this year in Senate district 48, covering Delaware County and parts of Jones, Linn, and Buchanan counties.

Iowa Senate Standing Commitees

Agriculture

Chair: Joe Seng was first elected in 2002 and represents Senate district 45, covering much of Davenport in Scott County.

Vice Chair: Amanda Ragan (see above).

Ranking member: Dan Zumbach (see above).

Other members: Kevin Kinney (D), Tod Bowman (D), Rich Taylor (D), Chris Brase (D), Rita Hart (D), Steve Sodders (D), Ken Rozenboom (R), Bill Anderson (R), Tom Shipley (R), Tim Kapucian (R)

Appropriations

Chair: Bob Dvorsky was first elected in 1994 and currently represents Senate district 37, covering Coralville and a large area in Johnson County as well as Cedar County.

Vice Chair: Jeff Danielson was first elected in 2004 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 30, covering Cedar Falls, part of Waterloo and some rural areas in Black Hawk County.

Ranking member: Jake Chapman was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 10, covering most of Dallas County, a little bit of Polk and Cass counties, and all of Adair and Guthrie Counties.

Other members: Tony Bisignano (D), Joe Bolkcom (D), Tom Courtney (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Chris Brase (D), Rob Hogg (D), Liz Mathis (D), Matt McCoy (D), Mary Jo Wilhelm (D), Amanda Ragan (D), Brian Schoenjahn (D), Dan Zumbach (R), Julian Garrett (R), Charles Schneider (R), Tim Kapucian (R), Ken Rozenboom (R), Mark Segebart (R), Tim Kraayenbrink (R)

Commerce

Chair: Janet Petersen was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2012, after serving for 12 years in the Iowa House. She is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 18, covering parts of northern and eastern Des Moines in Polk County. Some local Democrats expect her to run for governor in 2018.

Vice Chair: Matt McCoy (see above).

Ranking member: Bill Anderson was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010 and represents Senate district 3, covering much of Woodbury County (including southern neighborhoods in Sioux City) and most of Plymouth County.

Other members: Chaz Allen (D), Joe Bolkcom (D), Tom Courtney (D), Liz Mathis (D), Brian Schoenjahn (D), Joe Seng (D), Steve Sodders (D), Rick Bertrand (R), Dan Zumbach (R), Roby Smith (R), Charles Schneider (R), Amy Sinclair (R)

Economic Growth

Chair: Rita Hart was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2012 and represents Senate district 49, covering Clinton County and part of Scott County.

Vice Chair: Steve Sodders (see above).

Ranking member: Mark Chelgren was first elected in 2010 and represents Senate district 41, covering much of Wapello County and all of Davis and Van Buren counties.

Other members: Jeff Danielson (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Tod Bowman (D), Tony Bisignano (D), Liz Mathis (D), Rich Taylor (D), Mary Jo Wilhelm (D), Dennis Guth (R), Jake Chapman (R), Bill Anderson (R), Charles Schneider (R), Mike Breitbach (R)

Education

Chair: Herman Quirmbach was first elected in 2002 and represents Senate district 23, covering Ames and some rural areas in Story County.

Vice Chair: Brian Schoenjahn was first elected in 2004 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 32, covering Bremer County and parts of Fayette, Buchanan and Black Hawk.

Ranking member: Amy Sinclair was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 14, covering Clarke, Decatur, Lucas and Wayne counties, most of Marion County except for the Pella area, and a small portion of Jasper County.

Other members: Tod Bowman (D), Kevin Kinney (D), Bob Dvorsky (D), Rob Hogg (D), Rita Hart (D), Liz Mathis (D), Mary Jo Wilhelm (D), Jerry Behn (R), Tim Kraayenbrink (R), David Johnson (R), Jason Schultz (R), Brad Zaun (R)

Ethics

This committee has three members from each party in accordance with Iowa law.

Chair: Wally Horn was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 1982 and represents Senate district 35, covering a large area of Cedar Rapids in Linn County.

Vice Chair: Dick Dearden was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992 and is retiring in 2016. His daughter, Pam Dearden Conner, and Nate Boulton are competing in the Democratic primary to represent Senate district 16, covering much of the east side of Des Moines and Pleasant Hill in Polk County.

Ranking member: Jason Schultz was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2014 to represent Senate district 9, covering Ida, Monona, Harrison, and Shelby counties, along with parts of Crawford and Woodbury counties. He previously served six years in the Iowa House. To my knowledge, he is the only state lawmaker who has called me a traitor.

Other members: Joe Seng (D), Jerry Behn (R), Brad Zaun (R)

Government Oversight

Chair: Rob Hogg was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2006 and represents Senate district 33, covering part of Cedar Rapids in Linn County. He is a candidate for U.S. Senate.

Vice Chair: Brian Schoenjahn (see above).

Ranking member: Julian Garrett was first elected to the Iowa Senate in a 2013 special election to replace disgraced GOP incumbent Kent Sorenson. He represents Senate district 13, covering Madison County and most of Warren County.

Other members: Kevin Kinney (D), Jack Whitver (R)

Human Resources

Chair: Liz Mathis was first elected in a 2011 special election and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 34, covering surburban areas in Linn County.

Vice Chair: Amanda Ragan (see above).

Ranking member: David Johnson was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2002 and represents Senate district 1, covering Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Clay and Palo Alto counties.

Other members: Joe Bolkcom (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Chaz Allen (D), Pam Jochum (D), Mary Jo Wilhelm (D), Rich Taylor (D), Julian Garrett (R), Mark Chelgren (R), Mark Segebart (R), Mark Costello (R)

Judiciary

Chair: Steve Sodders (see above).

Vice Chair: Rob Hogg (see above).

Ranking member: Charles Schneider (see above).

Other members: Tony Bisignano (D), Wally Horn (D), Janet Petersen (D), Herman Quirmbach (D), Kevin Kinney (D), Rich Taylor (D), Julian Garrett (R), Tom Shipley (R), Jack Whitver (R), Brad Zaun (R)

Labor and Business Relations

Chair: Tony Bisignano was elected in 2014 to represent Senate district 17, covering parts of downtown Des Moines and the south side. He previously served six years in the state House and four years in the Senate during the 1980s and 1990s.

Vice Chair: Joe Seng (see above).

Ranking member: Tom Shipley was first elected in 2014 to represent Senate district 11, covering Adams and Union counties, most of Cass County, and most of Pottawattamie County outside the Council Bluffs city limits. Last year Charles Schneider was ranking member on this committee.

Other members: Chris Brase (D), Tom Courtney (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Steve Sodders (D), Dick Dearden (D), Rick Bertrand (R), Jack Whitver (R), Mark Costello (R)

Local Government

Chair: Rich Taylor was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 42, covering Lee and Henry Counties and parts of Jefferson and Washington.

Vice Chair: Mary Jo Wilhelm (see above).

Ranking member: Roby Smith was first elected in 2010 and represents Senate district 47, covering Bettendorf and parts of Davenport in Scott County.

Other members: Chris Brase (D), Rita Hart (D), Herman Quirmbach (D), Chaz Allen (D), Tony Bisignano (D), Mike Breitbach (R), Dennis Guth (R), Amy Sinclair (R)

Natural Resources and Environment

Chair: Dick Dearden (see above).

Vice Chair: Chris Brase was elected for the first time in 2012 and is up for re-election this year in Senate district 46, covering parts of Muscatine and Scott Counties.

Ranking member: Ken Rozenboom was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election this year in Senate district 40, covering Mahaska, Monroe, and Appanoose Counties, and parts of Marion and Wapello Counties.

Other members: Joe Bolkcom (D), Kevin Kinney (D), Janet Petersen (D), Amanda Ragan (D), Brian Schoenjahn (D), Joe Seng (D), Jerry Behn (R), David Johnson (R), Tom Shipley (R), Dan Zumbach (R)

Rules and Administration

Chair: Mike Gronstal (see above).

Vice Chair: Pam Jochum (see above).

Ranking member: Bill Dix (see above).

Other members: Tom Courtney (D), Dick Dearden (D), Bob Dvorsky (D), Amanda Ragan (D), Steve Sodders (D), Jack Whitver (R), Jake Chapman (R), Dennis Guth (R)

State Government

Chair: Jeff Danielson was first elected in 2004 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 30, covering Cedar Falls, part of Waterloo and some rural areas in Black Hawk County.

Vice Chair: Tom Courtney (see above).

Ranking member: Rick Bertrand (see above).

Other members: Dick Dearden (D), Tod Bowman (D), Bob Dvorsky (D), Janet Petersen (D), Wally Horn (D), Matt McCoy (D), Brian Schoenjahn (D), David Johnson (R), Jake Chapman (R), Randy Feenstra (R), Jason Schultz (R), Jack Whitver (R)

Transportation

Chair: Tod Bowman was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and represents Senate district 29, covering Jackson, most of Dubuque County (but not the city of Dubuque) and a large area in Jones County.

Vice Chair: Bob Dvorsky (see above).

Ranking member: Tim Kapucian (see above).

Other members: Chris Brase (D), Jeff Danielson (D), Dick Dearden (D), Wally Horn (D), Herman Quirmbach (D), Matt McCoy (D), Roby Smith (R), Mike Breitbach (R), Randy Feenstra (R), Tim Kraaeynbrink (R)

Ways & Means

Chair: Joe Bolkcom (see above).

Vice Chair: Chaz Allen was elected for the first time in 2014 to represent Senate district 15, covering most of Jasper County and eastern areas in Polk County.

Ranking member: Randy Feenstra (see above).

Other members: Joe Seng (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Rob Hogg (D), Pam Jochum (D), Janet Petersen (D), Matt McCoy (D), Herman Quirmbach (D), Jerry Behn (R), Bill Anderson (R), Mike Breitbach (R), Jason Schultz (R), Roby Smith (R)

Veterans Affairs

Chair: Wally Horn (see above).

Vice Chair: Jeff Danielson (see above).

Ranking member: Mark Segebart was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election this year in Senate district 6, covering Buena Vista, Sac, Carroll, and Audubon counties, plus part of Crawford County.

Other members: Chaz Allen (D), Liz Mathis (D), Rita Hart (D), Amanda Ragan (D), Steve Sodders (D), Mark Chelgren (R), Mark Costello (R), Ken Rozenboom (R)

Appropriations Subcommittees

Administration and Regulation

Chair: Chris Brase (see above).

Vice Chair: Jeff Danielson (see above).

Ranking member: Dan Zumbach (see above).

Other members: Chaz Allen (D), Dennis Guth (R)

Agriculture/Natural Resources

Chair: Mary Jo Wilhelm (see above).

Vice Chair: Kevin Kinney was elected for the first time in 2014 to represent Senate district 39, covering Washington and Keokuk counties and a large area in Johnson County.

Ranking member: Ken Rozenboom (see above).

Other members: Dick Dearden (D), Jason Schultz (R)

Economic Development

Chair: Bill Dotzler (see above).

Vice Chair: Rita Hart (see above).

Ranking member: Charles Schneider (see above).

Other members: Tony Bisignano (D), Roby Smith (R)

Education

Chair: Brian Schoenjahn (see above).

Vice Chair: Herman Quirmbach (see above).

Ranking member: Tim Kraayenbrink was elected for the first time in 2014 to represent Senate district 5, covering Calhoun, Humboldt, and Pocahontas counties, as well as most of Webster County.

Other members: Wally Horn (D), Amy Sinclair (R)

Health and Human Services

Chair: Amanda Ragan (see above).

Vice Chair: Joe Bolkcom (see above).

Ranking member: Mark Segebart (see above).

Other members: Bob Dvorsky (D), David Johnson (R)

Justice Systems

Chair: Tom Courtney was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2000. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 44, covering Des Moines and Louisa Counties, plus a large area in Muscatine County.

Vice Chair: Rob Hogg (see above).

Ranking member: Julian Garrett (see above).

Other members: Rich Taylor (D), Mark Chelgren (R)

Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals

Chair: Matt McCoy (see above).

Vice Chair: Tod Bowman (see above).

Ranking member: Tim Kapucian (see above).

Other members: Janet Petersen (D), Bill Anderson (R)

Administrative Rules Review Committee

Five Iowa House and five Iowa Senate members serve on this committee. The Senate’s five representatives on this committee are Tom Courtney (D), Pam Jochum (D), Wally Horn (D), Mark Costello (R), and Mark Chelgren (R).

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.