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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Iowa Senate Democrats' wrongheaded thinking

Jon Green is a former mayor of Lone Tree, where he resides. He works in information technology. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa Senate Democratic caucus has penis problems.

To wit: State Senator Nate Boulton. During his 2018 gubernatorial bid, Boulton was credibly accused of sexually assaulting three women. Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register broke the story. Pfannenstiel, quoting Boulton:

“I don’t have the same recollection,” he told the Register. “But I am not going to offer any additional context to this, other than to say if someone’s perspective is that it was inappropriate and I crossed a line and I misread a situation in a social setting, I do apologize.”

He declined to comment on or discuss the specific incidents, saying, “I think if I add context it quickly becomes victim-blaming, and I don’t want to go down that path.”

Only a lawyer could find that statement satisfying. While Boulton did drop out of the governor’s race soon after, he retained his Iowa Senate seat.

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State will count antigen tests toward COVID-19 case totals

Iowa’s official COVID-19 website will begin including positive and negative results from antigen tests in published statistics on cases and positivity rates, Governor Kim Reynolds announced at an August 27 news conference. Previously, the Iowa Department of Public Health had included antigen tests in the total testing numbers but considered all results from such tests “inconclusive.”

The governor and State Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati said the reporting change reflects new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and more widespread availability of antigen tests across the state.

Physicians and public health experts had expressed concern that omitting the antigen positives from case counts was skewing the data and obscuring the spread of the virus.

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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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Iowa governor, local officials at odds over shelter-in-place order

Governors of seventeen states have issued shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). But Governor Kim Reynolds again maintained on March 24 that data do not support that action in Iowa. She and top Iowa Department of Public Health officials are betting that closures already in place, along with official efforts to encourage social distancing, will be sufficient to keep serious COVID-19 infections from overwhelming our health care system.

A growing number of local leaders disagree.

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