This was the second week of the legislative session. While it was shorter than normal due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, it was busy and full of subcommittee meetings as we start going through the legislative process.
Subcommittees are the first step in the legislative process and are one of the ways Iowans can be involved in the lawmaking process. Subcommittees have been different than usual this year. All Senate subcommittees are virtual for the legislative session due to the pandemic. Instead of large groups of people gathering in rooms throughout the Capitol, subcommittees are meeting via Zoom. Generally, the Republican members of the subcommittee will be in one room while the Democrat member is in another. The Senate pages, who are usually busy with work around the chamber, bringing in notes from visitors or phone messages from the Senate switchboard, now are helping us manage and run our meetings online. While it is not how we usually meet, it does have many advantages, one of them being Iowans who normally do not have the time to drive to Des Moines to voice their opinion on a bill can now do so from the comfort of their home.
These subcommittee meetings allowed me to learn more of what my new job entails as I was assigned chair of my first subcommittee. This job made me a little nervous, but ended up being such a neat opportunity and learning experience! I am discovering that the best way to learn is to just go for it. Although there is much more for me to learn, I feel as though I am getting a general handle on my duties and expectations.
This week was also filled with many visits from my constituents! It was amazing to get to meet the people that I am representing and to give them a glance into my new workplace. It was an honor to listen to their opinion and I am eager to make sure to represent them as their state senator. Since last Thursday, I met with constituents representing many different organizations and ideas.
Last Thursday, I met with a family who spoke on behalf of the Iowa Homeschool Assistance Program. This was my first interaction with visitors at the Capitol and it was so nice to talk with my constituents. On Tuesday, I had constituents from Shellsburg, Vinton, and Belle Plaine representing the Cornerstone Baptist Church. They welcomed me to the Senate and were a great group to speak with. Wednesday, I experienced my first official meeting where I listened to what legislation my constituents would like to see proposed in the Senate. Barbers and business owners David and Chris met with me and explained the lack of opportunity for people wanting to pursue a career in becoming a barber. I appreciated all of these interactions with my constituents and am excited to put their requests to action!
If you are interested in a bill, please visit the legislative website, http://www.legis.iowa.gov, to find information on how to join these subcommittees. They are a great way to utilize technology during this time, maintain public transparency, and still move forward with this legislative session in a responsible manner.
Statehouse: (515) 281-3371