Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2021

The Iowa Senate convened for its 2021 session on January 11 with 31 Republicans, eighteen Democrats, and one vacancy in the district formerly represented by Mariannette Miller-Meeks. A record twelve senators are women (seven Democrats and five Republicans), up from eleven women in the chamber last year and double the six who served prior to 2018.

I enclose below details on the majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Iowa Senate committees. Where relevant, I’ve mentioned changes since last year’s legislative session. A few committees have new Republican leaders.

All current state senators are white. 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 chamber, and Iowa’s only Asian-American senator was Swati Dandekar, who resigned in 2011.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa senators include two Smiths, a Democrat and a Republican. As for first names, there are three Jeffs, three Zachs, and two men each named Craig, Mark, Dan, Jim, and Tim.

UPDATE: Republican Adrian Dickey won the January 26 special election to represent Senate district 41, giving the GOP a 32-18 majority. After he’s sworn in, I’ll note his committee assignments below.

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Leaders need to be role models

Bruce Lear reviews Iowa Republican leaders’ latest words and actions on COVID-19. -promoted by Laura Belin

There have always been individuals in jobs we hold to a higher standard. We expect more from them because they are in the public spotlight and have a certain prestige.

To name just a few, we expect doctors, teachers, and star athletes to serve as role models, and most of these professions follow a code of ethics. If that code is broken, the public or their employer scream foul.

I guess Iowa Republican legislators and our governor don’t consider themselves role models, or they would require masks and social distancing at the capitol. Also, their policies would protect students and educators by allowing local decision making.

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Minority impact statements in Iowa: History and continuing efforts

Marty Ryan of Des Moines lobbied the Iowa legislature for 27 years and now blogs weekly. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa quarter, printed in the latter part of 2004, is based upon a Grant Wood painting depicting a group of students and their teacher planting a tree outside of a county school. The statement on the coin says, “Foundation In Education.” For many decades, Iowa was noted for its first-in-the-nation education status. Likewise, Iowa has been a consistent leader in civil rights.

In fact, Iowa established some standards of equality long before the federal government or other states.

But racial disparities continue to affect Iowans in many areas of life. A reform the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted more than a decade ago has only slightly mitigated the problem.

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Response to Senator Julian Garrett's racist dog whistle

Nick Mahlstadt responds to the latest newsletter by Republican State Senator Julian Garrett, which is titled “Black Homicide Victims” and enclosed in full at the bottom of this post. -promoted by Laura Belin

Let’s be clear. This is a racist dog whistle piece written by the state senator representing my district, and I won’t be silent. The so-called black-on-black defense is intellectually dishonest and deflects from the actual issues at hand.

Senator Julian Garrett clearly is not interested in grappling with the reality of police brutality, which disproportionally affects people of color in the state of Iowa and the nation. Not only is his commentary a lazy, GOP talking point copy and paste, it perpetuates thinking that causes physical and mental harm to males who are not white and don’t hold power.

First, let’s address his lazy assessment of black-on-black crime.

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An open letter to Iowa GOP lawmakers and Governor Reynolds

Bleeding Heartland user “Bill from White Plains” reviews what some Republican politicians said and did in connection with the proposed state constitutional amendment regarding abortion. -promoted by Laura Belin

March 3 was Planned Parenthood Day on the Hill, and I am sure many of you have been inundated with the genuine and sincere entreaties of friends and fellow members of Planned Parenthood and NARAL to reject the ill-conceived, ill-advised, unrepresentative bills you are herding toward passage regarding restrictions on procedures to terminate pregnancy.

I agree with all of them, and I know that you know these are real constituents with real concerns about private matters that most of you have never experienced, nor will ever experience.

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Republican bill to protect housing discrimination part of a pattern

Matt Chapman closely follows Iowa legislative happenings. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa Senate Local Government Committee has approved a bill that would prevent municipalities from banning discrimination against tenants based on their source of income.

Senate Study Bill 3178 is yet another attack by the majority party on some of the most vulnerable Iowans. Section 8 housing vouchers are for those with nowhere to go, and they only cover half of the rent on apartments or houses.

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