Fewer Iowa legislators kept their retirement plans secret until the closing days of this year’s filing period. As a result, constituents had several weeks or months to consider running for most of the open Iowa House or Senate seats.Continue Reading...
The Iowa Senate confirmed Jerry Foxhoven as director of the Iowa Department of Human Services in an unusually close vote on March 21.
Most of Governor Kim Reynolds’ appointees have won unanimous confirmation, as has typically been the case in Iowa for many years. Foxhoven’s nomination was controversial because of how privatized Medicaid has been managed, along with several tragedies involving abused children. Senate Democrats asked to defer consideration on the DHS director last month “until we can fully assess his leadership.”
The Iowa Senate has taken the first step toward preventing a repeat of last spring’s controversy over whether Kim Reynolds would have the authority to name a new lieutenant governor following Terry Branstad’s resignation.
With broad bipartisan support, senators approved on March 7 a constitutional amendment designed to give future generations “a clear and explicit understanding of the line of succession for Iowa’s governors.”
The Iowa House and Senate convened Monday with the usual big promises and platitudes about working together to build a better future for Iowans.
Behind the optimistic rhetoric, all signs point to another contentious legislative session. The opening day speeches by Republican and Democratic leaders, enclosed in full below, revealed almost no common ground about the focus of lawmakers’ work and no indication that the most important bills will incorporate Democratic ideas. My takeaways:
The Iowa Senate begins work today with 29 Republicans, 20 Democrats, and one independent, former Republican David Johnson.
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 noted changes since last year’s legislative session.
Just six senators are women (five Democrats and a Republican), down from ten women serving in the chamber in 2013 and 2014 and seven during 2015 and 2016. 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 legislature; in 2014, Nathan Blake fell 18 votes short of becoming the first to join the Senate. No Asian-American has served in the state Senate since Swati Dandekar resigned in 2011.
Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa senators include two with the surname Johnson, four Marks, and two men each named Bill, Richard (Rich and Rick), Robert (a Rob and a Bob), Dan, Jim, Tim, Tom, Jeff, and Charles (one goes by Chaz).
No matter how closely you were following the horror show that was the Iowa legislature’s 2017 session, chances are you didn’t notice every Republican favor to moneyed interests at the expense of working people, especially public sector employees.
So it was that I learned just this week about a new law that could cost some Iowa educators part of their retirement savings.