Members of the Iowa Fraternal Congress came to the Capitol to visit with state legislators on March 10. Jason Mickles of Bettendorf, former president, and Kelvin Sohl of Maquoketa, president, talked with me.
Elizabeth Stone of Iowa City, an assistant professor in atmospheric chemistry at the University of Iowa, and Danielle Dahl of Davenport, the executive director of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, discuss the Iowa Flood Center and the opportunities that the research creates by bringing in visitors from other countries to the Flood Center with me at the Capitol on March 23.
Jack Runge of Alden, vice-president of the Iowa Firefighters Association, met with me at the Capitol on April 21. We discussed how Iowa fire departments can increase awareness of fire safety in their communities.
I took part in the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new Jesup City Hall on Saturday, October 29, along with Mayor Dick Quackenbush, former State Rep. Gene Ficken and other local leaders. The project was completed with a $475,000 I-JOBS grant and Local Option Sales Tax. The new City Hall will be a fine addition to the downtown area.
I recently visited with Palmer Home Health patient Paul Suhr of Arlington. I know home health is important to rural Iowans, and I enjoyed learning about the different services available to patients. Without Palmer Home Health, Paul might have a tough time managing his medications. His hospital stays and emergency room trips might be more frequent, cost more money and increase the cost of insurance.
I was in Oelwein on November 15 for the rededication ceremony of Oelwein’s Pearl Harbor Memorial at Veterans Park. Many in the community got involved and made it a special evening. Following the ceremony, everyone enjoyed a spaghetti dinner at the Oelwein American Legion Hall.
I’ve been hosting public meetings on the Governor’s education reform proposal to find out what local parents, teachers and students think. We had some good discussions in Waverly and Oelwein (pictured). I always appreciate input from constituent on how we can improve education and student achievement in our local schools.
Thanks to all who came out in Independence to share your thoughts and ideas for improving student achievement.
Barb and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Peggy Osmundson of Volga is serving as a page in the Iowa Senate for the 2012 session, along with other high school pages from around the state. She’ll assist legislators and staff in their work, while learning first-hand about the state government.
On the first day of the 2012 session, I had the chance to talk with students from Upper Iowa University’s Teacher Education Program about what the Legislature will be doing this session to improve student achievement in Iowa.
Making our elections safe and secure is something everyone can agree on. I talked this week with Cindy Gosse, the County Auditor of Buchanan County. Auditor Gosse was at the Statehouse to demonstrate "Precinct Atlas," an election management system developed by Cerro Gordo County. More than 50 Iowa counties now use the system. It allows election officials to use hassle-free hardware and software to quickly check-in and validate voters. This is a cost-effective way to protect the integrity of elections without disenfranchising a single voter.
Recently at the Iowa Statehouse, I met with University of Iowa President Sally Mason. Keeping tuition affordable for Iowa students attending our nationally recognized public universities is an essential part of rebuilding our economy. Our universities provide Iowa employers with talented, innovative employees and university students will make up a large part of the next generation of Iowa entrepreneurs.
Senator Steve Sodders and I picked up a penny's worth of water from the Central Iowa Water Association at Water Day at the Capitol on January 17. We both represent CIWA, which was voted "Best Tasting Water in the United States."
This week I met with Dan Tallon of Iowa City, an Iowa National Guard infantry specialist who returned from Afghanistan this summer. He’s now in his third year at the University of Iowa. Dan watched as the Senate approved an additional investment in college tuition assistance for returning soldiers like himself. In December, the Iowa National Guard informed us that, due to increased demand, former soldiers like Dan would have to pay as much as $1,300 more per semester. I’m glad the Senate voted unanimously to make it easier for Iowa’s returning soldiers to attend college, improve their skills and help build a stronger Iowa economy. I hope the Iowa House will quickly do likewise and that Governor Branstad will sign the legislation.
Veterans and members of the Oelwein Legion Post 9 were at the Capitol listening to debate on a bill in support of the USS Iowa Battleship. Pictured (left to right) are Jake Blisch, commander of the Legion, Representative Roger Thomas, Todd Hammond, VFW commander of Legion Post 1723, myself and Rollie Stedman.
Richard Sloan (left), assistant commissioner of Buchanan County Soil and Water Board, and Robert Muchmore (right), co-treasurer of the Buchanan County Soil and Water Board, were in the Capitol on January 25th for Conservation Day. I had the opportunity to speak with them about ongoing efforts to preserve Iowa’s valuable soil and protect our water supplies.
Iowans using innovative community college approaches to recover from lost jobs and fill existing job openings visited the Statehouse to talk about how they did it. I met with Fernando Franco of Sioux City and Jemia Peeples and Mike Sevart both of Cedar Rapids. Franco lost his job when the John Morrell plant closed. He earned a GED at Western Iowa Tech Community College, a diploma in the Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning program, and an Associate’s degree in Technical Studies in December 2011. Peeples worked part-time as a night cook while attending nurse aide classes and managing a family of four on her own. She earned her certification in December 2011 and a work promotion to a nurse aide position. She is now working to become a nurse. Sevart’s 32-year position ended when his employer closed. He enrolled in his community college’s combination welding program while earning an adult high school diploma. When he graduated, he was hired by a local manufacturing firm.
After a quick morning session on January 10th, I was able to spend some time with officials from the Iowa Firefighters' Association. Pictured, from: President Jack Runge of Alden, Executive Director Wendy Lensing from Humboldt, 3rd Vice President Brad Yeager from Forest City, and 2nd Vice President Alan Esch of Epworth.
Northeast Iowa Community College students from Peosta and Calmar were at the Statehouse for Community College Day on January 26.
Hawkeye Community College students traveled to the Statehouse from Waterloo for Community College Day on January 26.
At the Fayette County Library forum in Maynard, Representatives Roger Thomas and Andrew Wenthe and I had a chance to hear from constituents about their concerns and ideas.
Larry Weber of Iowa City came from the Iowa Flood Center and met with Senator Bob Dvorsky, Senator Joe Bolkcom and myself in the Capitol on February 1st. We had the opportunity to discuss the statewide flooding initiative and how to further protect Iowa from flooding disasters in the future.
Members of AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) visited the capital on February 1 and I had the chance to discuss with them the education of today’s middle aged unemployed workers. AMOS is launching Project IOWA (Iowa Opportunities for Workforce Advancement), which is a 21st century public-private workforce initiative. It has commitments from several area employers to hire its graduates once they complete training at DMACC or Mercy College of Health Sciences. From the left: myself, Pastor Benjamin C. Bell Jr., Pastor David Sickelka, and Paul Turner.
Buchanan County Economic Development Commission director Nate Clayberg was in the Capitol on February 1st. I had the opportunity to talk to him about education reform, particularly funding community colleges. Providing education to unemployed Iowans and creating and training a skilled work force is a great way to boost Iowa's economy.
Director of Entrepreneurship Outreach and Regional Business Center at the University of Northern Iowa Maureen Collins-Williams visited with me at the Capitol on January 31st. She discussed MyEntre.net, a website created at UNI that helps small businesses in multiple ways, from acquiring the right technology to accessing information. MyEntre.net is a great resource that will help Iowans boost our economy and grow stronger.
Members of the Iowa Association of Colleges for Teacher Education were in the Statehouse on February 2nd. Senator Herman Quirmbach and I had the opportunity to speak with them about education reform and the need for high quality educators in the state of Iowa. Providing a top tier education is paramount to growing Iowa's economy and creating skilled workers.
Members of the Iowa Association of Colleges for Teacher Education were at the Statehouse on Feb. 2. I'm pictured here with Dr. Cindy Waters, Associate Professor of Education at Upper Iowa University.
Curious George was at the Statehouse along with other representatives of Iowa Public Television to talk about their efforts to educate and entertain our kids.
I was honored to meet with firefighters from around the state this Tuesday to talk about the need to increase funding for our dedicated EMT’s and their services. I met Dave Floyd from Jesup who is part of Local 66. I understand the need to fund these vital institutions and I support their continued efforts to provide their communities with essential, excellent services.
Deacon Larry Kehoe of Des Moines and Bishop R. Walter Nickless of Sioux City spoke with me shortly before the Senate overwhelmingly approved a top Iowa Catholic Conference priority: increasing in the Earned Income Tax Credit. This tax cut for working families was approved twice last year by the Iowa House and Senate but then vetoed each time by Governor Branstad. There is broad bipartisan support for this tax cut, which puts more money in the pockets of working families - money that will be spent at local Iowa businesses.
Executive Director Laurie Schipper and Assistant Director Joan Kennedy from the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence were at the Iowa Statehouse on Wednesday, February 15, when Governor Terry Branstad signed legislation increasing the penalty for domestic abuse involving strangulation or choking. Despite the fact that these intentional acts of violence are strong predictors of future deadly assaults, previous Iowa law often allowed abusers who choked their victim to get off with a slap on the wrist. I helped the legislation pass the Iowa Senate in 2011. This year, the House followed the Senate’s lead and sent the legislation to the Governor for his signature.
The road to high-paying jobs right here in Iowa is paved by higher education. I spoke with these Wartburg College students on February 15 about how we can help Iowa's college students pursue an affordable, well-rounded education to help build Iowa's future.
Governor Terry Branstad shook hands with me after signing legislation increasing the penalty for domestic abuse involving strangulation or choking on February 15.
Nancy Staton of Buchanan County was in the Capitol on February 16 advocating for foster and adoptive parents in Iowa. Nancy is a member of the Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association (IFAPA), an organization that serves as a resource for foster, adoptive and kinship families in Iowa. Foster and adoptive parents greatly improve the lives of many Iowa children by providing them with the care and support needed to grow into successful adults.
Lora Friest of Decorah visited the Capitol on February 15 as a part of Iowa’s Resource Conservation and Development Day (RC&D). I was able to speak with Lora about the work RC&Ds do to conserve Iowa’s natural resources while boosting Rural Economic Development. They are local, grass roots organizations that assist individuals and communities in addressing local concerns.
Iowa State University leaders were in the Capitol on February 16 and I was able to speak with some of them about the projects they were working on. Here James Oliver, Director of the ISU Virtual Reality Applications Center, is showing Representative Roger Thomas and me a new piece of technology that makes flat objects such as pictures on paper appear three-dimensional through an application on an iPad. These advances in technology help put Iowa State University ahead of many other schools with their innovative ideas.
Iowa State University Professor Dan Shechtman, Iowa’s own Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, was recognized by the Senate on February 21. I spoke with him about his tremendous achievements, as well as the importance of keeping Iowa’s public universities among the nation’s best while ensuring tuition is affordable for students. Pictured from left: Shechtman, Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames (also an ISU professor), and myself. Congratulations, Doctor Shechtman!
I met with Jo Ann Boyer, Joyce Friederck, Deb Eberly and Jamie Hoe from Palmer Home Care, which is part of the Iowa Alliance in Home Care. These women and everyone involved in the Alliance provide in-home care that is crucial to older Iowans who want to continue living in their own homes while being as independent as possible.
The Rural Electric Co-ops (RECs) of Buchanan and Benton counties were in the Statehouse on February 21. The RECs are focused on providing efficient, affordable electricity to residents living in rural areas. Having reliable power to reach everyone is a necessity and helps keep the area running smoothly and effectively.
Farm Bureau representatives were in the Capitol on February 21, and I was able to meet with Joe Bahe of Stanley and Linda Druecker of Arlington. Protecting Iowa's farms is crucial to keep our state's economy healthy and maintaining Iowa's status as one of the top producers of agricultural products.
Protecting Iowa's natural resources is very important to me, and I shared my thoughts with Dan Cohen, Director of the Buchanan County Conservation Board. Dan was in the Capitol on February 22 for Environmental Day, and he told me about the work of the Buchanan County Conservation Board to protect prairies, woodlands and wetlands.
Leaders from many AEAs from around the state were in the Capitol on February 23. Gary Stumberg, Chief Administrator of the Keystone AEA and a friend of mine from my years of teaching at Starmont (middle), talked to me and Representative Roger Thomas (right) about current education legislation and the need for adequate funding of Iowa’s schools. Making sure our schools have the tools necessary to perform as some of the best in the country means a lot to me and is something I’m working for during this session.
On February 29, I spent time with a group of Iowa quadruplets and their mom in the Capitol. Their family was part of the March of Dimes annual day at the Iowa Legislature. I have helped make sure every Iowa child has access to health insurance. That’s one reason why Iowa is ranked at or near the top in surveys of the best states to raise a child. From left to right-myself, Jarred, Jakob, Noelle, Stacey, and Rebeckah Regennitter.
School administrators from around the state visited the Capitol on February 29 to meet with legislators about Iowa’s education system. John Carver (right) and Deron Durflinger (left), both of Van Meter School District, spoke with me about the greatest issues regarding our school systems. Providing a quality education for our students and creating the best possible education system for our state is very important to me.
Is flunking third graders the best way to improve reading scores? This week I talked with Kathy Christie, a vice-president of the Education Commission of the States. She told the Senate Education Committee that the best research on reading has found that failing elementary school students produces mixed results. Some studies have found it does actual harm to students learning to read. Christie says the best approach is to take action long before the end of third grade, perhaps starting in preschool. Successful measures include more intensive teacher training on teaching reading and more family involvement. See what Kathy had to say here: http://youtu.be/XLd9BIia6yE.
Buchanan County Supervisors were in the Capitol on March 1 for County Day. I spoke with Supervisors Ralph Kremer (left) and Ellen Gaffney (right) about helping counties work as effectively as possible in Iowa. County management is essential to moving Iowa forward economically, as well as ensuring that the needs of Iowans are met. Ellen and Ralph gave me good insight as to what I can do to ensure local governments are able to respond to the needs of Iowans effectively and responsibly.
Representatives of Palmer Homecare from West Union.
I visited March 6 with member of East Buchanan Telephone Coop. Lee Bossom, president, and many other folks traveled to the Statehouse for the Rural Iowa Independent Telephone Association's annual day on the Hill.
After recent fatal accidents involving law enforcement and emergency services workers, the Iowa Senate voted unanimously to toughen Iowa’s “move over, slow down” laws on March 6. If Senate File 2257 becomes law, drivers who fail to move over or slow down for emergency or maintenance vehicles displaying flashing lights will face fines and the loss of driving privileges. Advocates for the legislation brought their tow trucks to the west steps of the Iowa Statehouse for the debate. Among them were workers for Hanifen Towing of Des Moines, a business that lost two tow truck drivers in a single accident on I-80 last September. From left: Myself, John Kearse, Julie Hanifen and Colin Allen of Hanifen Towing, and Jeff Bussanmas of Bussanmas Towing of Bevington.
Science and technology careers are in high demand today, and getting Iowa students involved with these disciplines early on is essential to creating more skilled workers. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs used in Iowa’s school districts are a great way to get young men and women interested in possible careers in the fields of science and technology. On March 7, Hawkeye Community College students and staff visited the Capitol along with other STEM representatives and talked with me about the latest STEM projects and how they are helping Iowa students. Pictured from left: Kathy Flynn, myself, Catharine Freeman, Anthony Holschlag and Kyle Carlson.
The Iowa Association for Lifelong Learning visited the Capitol on March 7, and I had the chance to speak with Martin Reimer of Western Iowa Tech Community College. The association is committed to providing individuals with the training to become a skilled worker even if they’re not traditional students in a college or university. Iowa’s skilled worker shortage can be eliminated through the work of organizations like the Iowa Association for Lifelong Learning. Our need for nurses, welders, electricians and many other skilled workers can easily be filled through the use of these helpful programs that get Iowans into the workforce and move the state forward.
Flooding in Iowa is a very real threat, and efforts to predict floods and prevent their destruction are being taken by the Iowa Flood Center from the University of Iowa. Larry Weber and Witold F. Krajewski, who both are involved in flood research at the University of Iowa, spoke to me on March 7 in the Capitol about the projects they’re working on and how the Center is making sure Iowa is better prepared to handle floods like the ones that have recently struck the state.
Making sure motorcyclists are seen and heard is the mission of ABATE of Iowa, and they visited the Statehouse on March 8 to spread that word. I had the chance to speak with Chad Fox of Sumner about laws related to motorcyclists and making sure their rights are protected as well as any other road user. Protecting the rights of all motorists is important to me because everyone should have a fair share of the road.
At the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Day activities at the Capitol, I talked with Pat Higby, who developed the energy education program at the University of Northern Iowa, known as the Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE). We discussed some of CEEE’s initiatives including the Green Schools project. She manages the center’s outreach on energy efficiency and renewable energy to utility companies, student groups, county agencies and other organizations. She taught physics at the high school level and at UNI.
Speaking with constituents in Bremer County on March 10.
We had a great crowd come out to discuss issues at the Buchanan County Libraries Legislative Day at Fairbank Public Library on March 17.
Rachelle and Richard Nolan attended the forum in Fairbank on March 17. They talked with me about health care issues, as once of children has hemophilia. I'm pictured here with the Nolan kids.
I am working to increase the market for Iowa’s high quality furs. I hope to pass legislation creating a new, lower cost one-day fur buying license. That would bring more fur buyers to events like the annual fur auction sponsored by the Iowa Trappers Association. On March 21, I talked with Ed Grillot of Wheatland, Craig Sweet of St. Charles and Gene Burdy of Fontanelle at the Iowa Statehouse. They are some of the trappers who make up the state-wide association that works to promote and protect the sport of trapping.
Members of the Iowa Outdoor Partnership visited the Capitol on March 22. Senator Dick Dearden and I had a chance to talk to the members about issues that concerned them. The organization focuses on conservation of Iowa’s wildlife and protecting their future.
Some of the hardest working Cub Scouts in Iowa were at the Iowa Statehouse on March 22. I had the chance to meet the young Scouts, who had the honor of leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the session.
I discussed the Education Budget we're working on in the Senate at our weekly press conference on March 22. You can see what I and other legislators had to say at http://youtu.be/xxqp5oFCrUQ.
Family Practice Providers in Winthrop, Janny Budzine and Timothy Gerst.
I-Smile Coordinator Kim Howard.
Independence Library staff Amy McGraw, Vonnie Hoskins and Laura Blaker.
Trixie Reed, kindergarten teacher at St. John's.
Beth Munk and Brooke Reed from Kidsville Early Childhood Learning Center.
Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Wolfgram
Lindsay Kalvig from Pathways Behavioral Services.
With Annemarie Goldhorn, coordinator for Ninth Annual Buchanan County Early Childhood Fair.
Ryan Dettbarn, community liaison for Building Directions for Families.
Folks from Area Ambulance Services of Buchanan County at Heartland Acres in Independence.
Leaders in Iowa’s higher education system were in the Statehouse on March 27, and I had the chance to meet with a couple of them. UNI president Ben Allen (left) and Regent Bruce Rastetter (right) spoke with me about college funding and keeping tuition affordable for all Iowa students.
Leaders in Iowa’s higher education system were in the Statehouse on March 27, and I had the chance to meet Sally Mason, the president of the University of Iowa. I had the opportunity to talk with President Mason about college funding and legislation regarding Iowa’s colleges. She also shared with me some concerns she had and I was able to talk to her about making school more affordable for Iowa students.
Retiring Senate President Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg helped create Iowa’s nationally recognized community college system. I’m working closely with him so Northeast Iowa Community College and Hawkeye Community College as well as other community colleges can do even more to ease Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers. Business leaders say that would help grow Iowa’s economy. Unfortunately, deep cuts in state funding over the last 10 years have caused sharp increases in tuition and fees, according to a new report by the Iowa Fiscal Partnership. (http://tinyurl.com/7h6ckue)
Members of the University of Northern Iowa student government and other UNI students visited the Capitol on March 29.
Iowa State Veterinary School student Cole Burrach of Arlington was in the Capitol on February 22 with the Iowa Environmental Council. Cole, who will graduate next spring, talked to me about funding for colleges and rising tuition costs. We also discussed efforts to conserve Iowa's natural resources and ways to improve them for the future.
At a Buchanan County banquet in Fairbank on March 31.
Max Grover of Rowley was recognized on April 2 on behalf of Guy and Shirley Grover for their generous donation of land to the state of Iowa. Along with over 30 other donors, the Grovers gave Iowa a wonderful gift that the state can use for many purposes, including research and recreation. Altogether, over 6,000 acres of private land was donated in 2011 thanks to the generosity of people like Guy and Shirley. Pictured left to right: Senator Dennis Black, Roger Johnson of Independence, Max Grover and myself.
Todd Eipperle of Marshalltown, an Iowa Army National Guard member wounded in Afghanistan last July, visited the Iowa Statehouse on April 5 to thank legislators for helping Iowa’s returning combat veterans transition back to civilian life. Thousands of National Guard members are returning from Iowa's largest overseas deployment ever. Both the Iowa Senate and House have voted to create the most intensive, long-term post-traumatic stress and dual diagnosis center in the state at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. Eipperle spent four months in rehabilitation in Kansas before returning to Iowa and to his job at the Boy Scouts of America. “If you’ve been in combat, it is not unusual to experience some level of post-traumatic stress,” said Eipperle. “I’m glad Iowa soldiers will be able to receive intense, professional care in their home state. That will help veterans more quickly and more completely return to civilian life.”
Jordan Imoehl of Oelwein took part in the 7th Annual Iowa “Research in the Capitol” exposition at the Iowa Statehouse on April 4. He is researching how genetics and environment influence behavior by using sophisticated automatic tracking technology to study fruit fly behavior. Imoehl is majoring in biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa.
More than 10,000 Iowa children have parents serving in the military, and many more have a sibling, grandparent or other family member in the armed forces. Military families and supporters gathered at the Statehouse April 10 to celebrate Military Family Appreciation Day and the Month of the Military Child. Jeanna Beeber’s husband, Brad, recently returned from service in Afghanistan. She brought her son, Aaron, and daughter, Grace, to the Iowa Senate to meet with myself and other legislators. Ideas and resources can be found at “Iowa Operation Military Kids” at http://tinyurl.com/Iowamilitarykids.
The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association grilled more than 700 steaks for visitors, staff, legislators and others at the Iowa Statehouse on Tuesday. The organization represents 9,500 Iowa beef-producing families and associated companies and is dedicated to the future of Iowa's beef industry. Mike Cline of Elgin, Rob Medberry of Volga, and David Rueber of Luxemburg talked with me about the jobs and positive economic impact of the cattle industry in Iowa. Pictured left to right, Mike Cline, myself, Rob Medberry, and David Rueber.
This week, I met Stan Pfoff of Marion and David Bennett, a professor from Kirkwood Community College. Clean energy and creating Iowa jobs are important issues to me, so I was glad to hear about the program at Kirkwood to provide Iowa with skilled workers in the energy industry and that businesses like Stan's, which has doubled in size since he started installing solar panels, will be able to hire them.
Creating jobs is key to growing Iowa's economy. Paul Rekow of Spencer is doing just that. He has doubled his business since he began solar panel installation, adding new workers and clean energy to Iowa. Pictured from left: Rekow, I Sen. Tod Bowman of Maquoketa and Sen. Daryl Beall of Fort Dodge.
I had the opportunity to show some students from West Delaware the library in the Iowa Statehouse on April 17. I enjoyed talking to the kids about the legislative process and my job as a senator.
The Iowa Environmental Council held its Day on the Hill on February 22. I had the chance to meet with Lisa Ross Theden (left) of Rowley and Wendy VanDeWalle (middle) of Brandon. They talked to me about the importance of protecting Iowa's natural resources, especially our air and water quality. They also were very helpful in providing me with information on what I can do as a legislator to further improve our resource conservation efforts.
I was invited by Major General Orr, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, to visit Camp Dodge. We talked about the importance of the National Guard Tuition Assistance Program, which is a as part of the Education Budget. The significance of this program for returning soldiers is clear when you take a look at the numbers: 1,128 awards for community college, 792 awards for Iowa’s state universities and 480 awards for Iowa private colleges. I will support fully funding this program because it is one of the many benefits that we can give those who’ve put themselves in harm’s way to fight for our freedoms.
Senator Tod Bowman and I working on an education bill during a conference committee this week.
I had a chance to enjoy coffee and some good discussion with Bennington Township folks at the home of Jerry and JoAnn Kramer on May 5.
Students from Sumner-Fredericksburg visited with Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm and me during the final week of session this year.
On May 26, I was in Hazleton for the dedication of Veteran's Memorial Park. Barb had to hold my speech because of high winds.
Ralph Kephart, Honor Flight member and World War II veteran, spoke at the Hazelton event. He is 91 years old and read a poem by Jan Short about the Honor Flight.
At the Otsego Union Cemetery rededication, I talked about legislation I helped pass regarding pioneer cemeteries.
The Color Guard gets warmed up at the Otsego Union Cemetery rededication in Jefferson Township near Oelwein.
In the Otsego Union Cemetery, I shared the life story of William Crofoot. Civil War era soldiers join Rev. Duane Olsen and I at the grave of William Crofoot. Thank you to Senator Dennis Black for the research he provided on William Crofoot.
Thanks to all the friends who joined Barb and me for the Hazelton parade, including Bruce Bearinger and his family.
Barb and I enjoyed talking with folks in Hazelton when we were in town for their parade on June 9.
Lots of folks helped out with the Winthrop parade, including Bruce Bearinger and his daughter Rachel.
It was great to see everyone for the community celebrations in Readlyn and Winthrop on June 16.
Roseann Dallenbach joined Barb and me for the parade in Readlyn.
I participated in the Guy Grover timber dedication ceremony, west of Quasqueton. I'm pictured here with Jim Grover (Guy's brother) at the ceremony. The Grover Timber is a remarkable gift to the people of Iowa. I hope that the generosity of the Grovers will encourage other Iowans to follow their example by donating land for nature preserves, public hunting or other public purposes. Iowa’s state parks and nature reserves are one of the most important legacies we can possibly leave the next generation of Iowans. They make Iowa a better place to live and are important assets to our economy. The Grover Timber is particularly important when you remember that Iowa ranks near the bottom of all 50 states in terms of the percentage of land devoted to parks and natural areas.
Thanks to my group of helpers who passed out candy at the Fairbank parade.
I was in Fairbank June 23 for their parade.
I visited Wilbur Tiffany at Care Center in Independence on June 29. Wilbur is a WWII veteran who is receiving three Bronze Stars for his service. Thanks to Senator Harkin for his work to get the medals for Wilbur.
Bruce Bearinger and I enjoyed the Maynard parade on June 29.
We had lots of great help at the Oelwein parade on June 30. Also, we had a great breakfast at the Oelwein American Legion.
Bruce Bearinger and I had our photo taken by the famous Brandon frying pan when we were in town recently.
The Fourth of July parade crew in Independence.
Barb and I passing out candy at the Independence parade on the 4th.
Great group of parade helpers in Aurora.
This 4th of July was a hot one, but I sure enjoyed seeing all the folks at the community celebrations.
This summer's parades have given me some quality time-- and lots of exercise-- with family. From left: I, Barb, daughter Ashley, and Jordan Bergus (Ashley's fiance).
Thanks to the great parade crew that joined me for the festivities in Arlington.
Greeting folks in Arlington on July 7.
Bruce Bearinger and I in Quasqueton for their community celebration.
Everyone had a great time in Waverly on July 21.
Dunkerton Library Director Michelle Wheeler had a great group of kids join her on the library float.
Bill Heckroth and I checked out the Veteran's Memorial while in Dunkerton.
Parade helpers in Brandon.
Enjoying the Brandon parade.
The Lamont parade crew.
Greeting the crowd in Lamont.
Everybody ready for the parade in Denver, Iowa!
Small Iowa towns bring out big crowds for community celebrations, like this one August 25 in Denver.
I enjoyed a visit to Em's Coffee Company in Independence with Congressman Bruce Braley and US Senator Tom Harkin.
I recently visited an Easter Seals farm south of Jesup. Greg Corkery showed me his modified ag equipment and talked with me about Rural Solutions, an Easter Seals program that helps farmers with disabilities continue to farm.
Senator Brian Schoenjahn and family.
I took the oath of office in the Iowa Senate on Monday, January 14th, the first day of the 2013 session of the Iowa Legislature. It was a great honor and I will do my best.
I was happy to share ceremonies of the first day of session with my wife, Barb, and Jodi Grover, who has returned to work as my legislative clerk.
I took the oath of office in the Iowa Senate on Monday, January 14th, the first day of the 2013 session of the Iowa Legislature. It was a great honor and I will continue to do my best.
Barb and I in the well of the Iowa Senate.
Siblings by Choice is a school-based mentoring program aimed at creating a positive influence in the lives of children in the West Central School District. Pictured, from left: Cheyanne Brickman of Westgate, Nakita Conrad of Maynard, Dana Denny of Oelwein, Tayton Molyneux of Westgate, Rep. Bruce Bearinger of Oelwein, I and Stephen Milder, who brought the students to the Statehouse. Siblings by Choice is a great example of educators and students working together to provide a stronger learning environment within our communities.
City officials from Waverly met with Senator Bill Dix of Shell Rock and me in the Senate on Jan. 22. Pictured, from left: I, Councilman Chris Neuendorf, Sen. Dix, City Administrator Phil Jones, Councilman Gary Boorom and Mayor Bob Brunkhorst. We discussed property taxes and some recent city issues in Waverly.
Two of Cedar Rapid's finest paid a visit to the Statehouse on January 24th. Senator Horn is seen here pictured with Lieutenant Jeffrey Hembera (center) and Captain B.A. Walther Jr. (right). These two police officers attended a Congressional Committee debating a House crime-study bill.
Babies had their day at the Statehouse today. As part of the American Heart Association’s awareness drive, Mom Stacey Frelun and Baby Kylie are seen here pictured with Senators Horn (left) and Senator Dotzler on the morning of January 24th. The American Heart Association is a strong advocate for a simple, non-invasive heart defect screening which has the potential to save the lives of countless newborns. Awareness campaigns like this are simple and effective ways to insure quality healthcare for Iowa newborns.
We owe our freedom to our veterans and service members. During Veterans Day on the Hill, we welcomed Iowa veterans to the State Capitol to honor and thank them for their sacrifices. During this year’s event on January 23, I got the chance to talk with (left) Rollie Stedman and (right) Jake Blitsch of Oelwin, members of American Legion Post 9, about veteran’s issues.;
We owe our freedom to our veterans and service members. During Veterans Day on the Hill, we welcomed Iowa veterans to the State Capitol to honor and thank them for their sacrifices. During this year’s event on January 23, I got the chance to talk with (left) Rollie Stedman and (right) Jake Blitsch of Oelwin, members of American Legion Post 9, about veteran’s issues.
At the Oelwein forum, sponsored by the Fayette County Library Association, I got a lot of questions about funding for our local schools and student achievement.
State Representatives Bruce Bearinger and Roger Thomas and I discussed legislative issues with constituents at the Oelwein Public Library on Jan. 26.
The Oelwein forum was very well attended. I look forward to meeting with folks in communities throughout the area this session.
As University Teacher Education students, the Upper Iowa visitors were particularly interested in discussing student achievement and funding for education at all levels.
Upper Iowa University Teacher Education students from the Des Moines Center visited the Capitol on January 28.
Rep. Roger Thomas and I showed the Upper Iowa students around the Capitol.
Do you think that in this economy there aren’t any people looking for workers? Well, Roger Klouda is, he’s the owner of MSI Moldbuilders in Cedar Rapids, the 26th largest moldbuilding company in North America and on Tuesday, January 29 he said he could hire eight people immediately if they had the right training. But here’s the catch, there are very few people who have gone through the required two-year community college program, and that’s the reason Mr. Klouda came to the Capitol on Tuesday, to lobby for more funding for skills training programs so that employers like him can hire more people. I spoke with him about this, and other economic issues.
Roger Klouda of Cedar Rapids is an example of an Iowa business owner who can’t hire enough workers, despite paying great wages. Roger is the owner of MSI Moldbuilders, the 26th largest moldbuilding company in North America. Tuesday, January 29, he told a Senate committee he could hire eight people immediately if they had the right training. That’s the catch. He believes Iowa needs more career training programs in specific industries. I agree.
I talked briefly with U.S. Congressman Bruce Braley of Waterloo this week. Rep. Braley is working at the federal level to do more to get radon, a colorless, odorless radioactive gas, out of our kids’ classrooms. Iowa is one the states most affected by radon exposure, a known cause of lung cancer.
Iowa’s forests are a vast and beautiful natural resource, and on Tuesday, February 5 I had the chance to meet the man chiefly in charge of managing them. State Forester Paul Tauke stopped by the Senate to discuss how best to maintain our forests.
Iowa’s forests are a vast and beautiful natural resource. On February 5, I had the chance to talk with the man chiefly in charge of managing them. State Forester Paul Tauke stopped by the Senate to discuss how best to maintain our forests.
It was University of Northern Iowa Day at the Statehouse on Feb. 11. Representatives Bob Kressig of Cedar Falls and Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo joined the Panther for a photo on the Capitol steps.
Iowa has 32 diverse colleges and universities that graduate 2,500 new teachers each year. Many states come to Iowa to recruit graduates from our teacher colleges. If you want to improve teaching, you should work with the institutions involved in teaching the teachers. On Feb. 12, representatives of the Iowa Association of Colleges for Teacher Education were at the Statehouse. Upper Iowa University and UNI faculty members joined me in the Senate Chamber. From left: Dr. Gail Moorman Behrens, Dean, Andres School of Education, Upper Iowa University; Jill Buchan, Assistant Professor of Education, Upper Iowa University; Dr. Cindy Waters, Associate Professor of Education, Upper Iowa University; Dr. Terri Lasswell, Assistant Professor of Education, Waterloo Student Teaching Coordinator-Secondary, UNI; and Sue Burrack, Assistant Professor of Education, Upper Iowa University. See a short video of when I introduced them on the Senate floor at http://youtu.be/qYD6KXdbzso.
Tuesday, February 12th - Senate Chamber - Senator Schoenjahn leading announcements.
Senator Hart and I met with Nancy Staton from Quasqueton and Nancy Magnall from Waverly. They came to speak on behalf of the Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association. The organization has pioneered a program to support foster parents who need a break from their special needs adopted child or children by sending a trained foster parent into the home. I think this is a great example of innovation in Iowa to support foster parents.
Capitol Project is a program that allows 20 Iowa high school students to come to Des Moines for four days, meet government officials in and around the Capitol, and learn about the legislative process and other aspects of state government. On February 19, I had the pleasure of meeting Jessup High School’s Gabriella Ruggiero, a participant in Capitol Project. I also introduced her to Representative Bruce Bearinger.
Rep. Bruce Bearinger and I took Gabriella Ruggiero to the Senate President's office when she was at the Statehouse for Capitol Project.
Archbishop Jerome Hamus of the Archdiocese of Dubuque was at the Statehouse on Feb. 20. One priority issue for Iowa’s bishops this year is Medicaid expansion, which they say will “help Iowans who’ve lost their jobs or are struggling in jobs without health benefits get access to quality care. It will reduce costly emergency visits and reduce the burden on Iowa’s providers who provide care to Iowans who currently lack coverage.” I agree with efforts to make health care more readily available and affordable to all Iowans.
On Feb. 20, I talked with Jutone Owens and Hayley McCarthy from Waverly and Mallory Lee from Shell Rock about the challenges facing social workers in Iowa. Despite being in high demand, social workers are poorly compensated for their work and face increasing student loan debt. That's why I support a bill that would forgive the loans of Iowa social workers who work in under-served areas of the state.
The mission of Iowa Public Television (IPTV) is to provide quality, noncommercial programming to educate, inform, enrich and inspire Iowans, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. More than 2.2 million Iowans a month turn to IPTV for news and information. This week’s celebration of Iowa Public Television included a visit by Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is an organization founded by a handful of Waterloo clergy working to improve the lives of everyday Iowans. On Feb. 26, a few members visited the Statehouse to advocate for social justice issues. The group included Dan Cohen, Don Shoyha, Bob Richter and Tom Ratchford of Independence and Greg Schmitt and Loren Hamilton of Winthrop.
Members of the Iowa Environmental Council visited the Statehouse on Feb. 26. I spoke with members from Independence advocating for the preservation of county conservation areas for recreation. From left: Dan Cohen, Loren Hamilton, I and Don Shoyha.
The Direct Care Worker Advisory Council is working to improve the skills of Iowa’s direct care healthcare workers. I'm pictured here with Michelle Rich.
The Iowa Academy of Family Physicians provides information and resources that family physicians need to improve the health of Iowa families. Senator Rich Taylor of Mount Pleasant and I spoke with Dr. Jeff Hoffman of Guttenberg.
The Iowa RSVP is an organization for volunteers aged 55 and up. The group does a lot of good work in Iowa, offering volunteers opportunities to share their skills, interests and life experiences in response to a variety of community needs. On Feb. 26, Blackhawk County RSVP Director Shelia Bohr told me about her work during a visit to the Statehouse.
Improving the skills of Iowa’s workforce is absolutely one of the best ways to improve our economy and expand our middle class. I spoke at a press conference to voice my support for increased state funding of skills training programs at Iowa’s community colleges.
Improving the skills of Iowa’s workforce is absolutely one of the best ways to improve our economy and expand our middle class. On Thursday morning I spoke at a press conference to voice my support for increased state funding of skills training programs at Iowa’s community colleges. To my left is State Representative Chris Hall of Sioux City and to my right is Senate President Pam Jochum of Dubuque.
During Health Science Day at the Capitol, Senators Beall and Gronstal and I talked with dean of the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, David Johnson.
Senator Schoenjahn (right) and I always are happy to greet students visiting the Capitol, especially when they have come as far as these two! The young woman is Milica Njezic from Bosnia and the young man is Eun Ho Kim from South Korea; both are sophomores majoring in international relations at Wartburg College in Waverly.
Senator Beall (left) and I always are happy to greet students visiting the Capitol, especially when they have come as far as these two! The young woman is Milica Njezic from Bosnia and the young man is Eun Ho Kim from South Korea; both are sophomores majoring in international relations at Wartburg College in Waverly.
Representatives of the East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative talked with me about ways to help them offer the best possible services to rural customers. There were on hand with RIITA (the Rural Iowa Independent Telephone Association), an organization that helps keep Iowa’s rural communities connected to the world.
Milica Njezic from Bosnia and Eun Ho Kim from South Korea are sophomores majoring in international relations at Wartburg College in Waverly. They job shadowed Senator Daryl Beall and me for two days at the Statehouse.
The Coalition for Family & Children Services in Iowa visited the Statehouse on Wednesday. I talked to Brian J. Fox, program director to oversee Boys Town Services provided in Iowa, and Lisa Batenhorst, director of Nebraska/Iowa Family Services at Boys Town. Boys Town serves more than 1,100 families and 2,200 children in Iowa every year.
Waverly City Administrator Phil Jones talked with me about community visioning and legislative support for economic development.
Employer Support of the Reserve and Guard promotes cooperation and understanding between Reserve Service members and their civilian employers. On Wednesday, several members of the group stopped by the Statehouse. From left: Colonel Elwell of the Army Reserve, I, Gunnery Sergeant Kent Urey, 1st Lieutenant Matthew Seamer and Staff Sergeant John Gilman.
March 11 was Lutheran Day on the Hill, which meant that the social justice organization Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI) was on hand to give a voice to those who need it most. LSI works with the disabled, refugees, children and families. Pictured with me here are Shilotte Epley, Joyce Williams, Kaye Englin and Kathy Reiter.
The School Administrators of Iowa visited the Capitol on Thursday and I took the opportunity to meet with a few of them. From left to right: Senator Herman Quirmbach, Tom Narak, Government Relations Director for School Administrators of Iowa, Senator Daryl Beall, Senator Bob Dvorsky, me, Tim Taylor, Superintendent of Ames Community School District, and Tom Lane, Superintendent of Carlisle Community School District.
I joined other local legislators March 16 for a Farm Bureau forum in Oelwein.
Rep. Bruce Bearinger and I at the Early Childhood Fair in Independence, along with Annemarie Goldhorn, Community Prevention Educator for Pathways, and Brenda Ristvedt with Volunteer Co-op.
Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Wolfgram was on hand for the Early Childhood Fair in Independence.
Representatives of the Buchanan County Health Center at the Early Childhood Fair in Independence.
Rep. Bruce Bearinger and I talked with Danielle Gerhardts, Buchanan County Health Center Hospital Administrator, about the best ways for Iowa to expand access to affordable health care.
School Administrators of Iowa met with a number of legislators, including several of us on the Senate Education Committee. Pictured (from left): Senator Herman Quirmbach, Tom Narak of the School Administrators of Iowa, Senator Daryl Beall, Senator Bob Dvorksy, I, Ames Schools Superintendent Tim Taylor, and Carlisle Schools Superintendent Tom Lane. High on their list of priorities is increasing allowable growth to 4 percent, the Senate has passed 4% four times this year, but the House approved only 2 percent.
Dan Gable has one of the most accomplished athletic and coaching careers in the history of wrestling. As a wrestler for Iowa State University, he lost only one match during his entire time in college and went on to win a Gold Medal in the 1972 Olympics without allowing a competitor to score a single point on him during the entire tournament. He went on to coach at the University of Iowa, where his teams won 15 NCAA titles. On March 21, he joined us in the Senate Chamber for a resolution protesting the International Olympic Committee’s decision to end wrestling.
We talked a lot about education, job training and skilled workforce issues with the folks in Jesup.
Rep. Bruce Bearinger and I hosted a listening post at Jesup Public Library on March 23.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in both Iowa and the United States. I learned this fact from the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance, a statewide organization devoted to eliminating the negative impacts of tobacco use. Beverly Walsmith showed me some of the products sold by the tobacco industry, many of which are colorfully packaged like candy and soda.
Richard Sorey, director of the Iowa Department for the Blind, was at the Statehouse March 27. The Iowa Department for the Blind believes all Iowans can lead productive, fulfilling lives – including those who happen to be blind or visually impaired. The Department supports and encourages independent living and full participation in life – at home, at work and in communities. Vision loss knows no boundaries with respect to age, gender or ethnicity. It should not and does not need to limit accomplishment in whatever a person wishes to do.
Theresa Kurtz visited the Statehouse with the Iowa Recycling Association, a group that encourages Iowa businesses and individuals to recycle in as many ways as they can.
Roark Horn, Chief Administrator for AEA 267, with Sen. Schoenjahn
I discussed education issues with Roark Horn, chief administrator for AEA 267 in Cedar Falls, and Patrick Heiderscheit, director of Administrative Services for Keystone AEA 1 in Elkader.
The health of Iowa’s forests is closely linked to the quality of our air and farmland. I was reminded of this Wednesday when a few people visited the Capitol to ask the Legislature to protect our forests. From left: Heath Hupke of the Coalition of Iowa’s Woodlands and Trees, Leslie Berckes, a field coordinator with Trees Forever, I and Richard Kettelson, a forester with Northeast Iowa Resources Conservation & Development.
The health of Iowa’s forests is closely linked to the quality of our air and farmland. I was reminded of this Wednesday when a few people visited the Capitol to ask the Legislature to protect our forests, including Patty Petersen of Indianola who is in charge of Membership Development for Trees Forever. From left: Patty Petersen, Senate President Pam Jochum, and I.
Barb and I at the Buchanan County Democrats Banquet on April 5.
I spoke at the Buchanan County Democrats Banquet at Wolfey's in Quasqueton on April 5.
The senior class of Tripoli High School visited the Capitol in Des Moines to see their state government in action.
I held a listening post April 20 at the Tripoli Public Library. I enjoyed meeting Mayor Norbert Ranard and his wife, Jean.
The Starmont government students had the chance to meet Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and see her office.
Deb Loftsgard brought the Starmont seniors to the Statehouse to tour the Capitol and learn about state government.
Senator Breitbach and I hosted a group of seniors from the Starmont Community School District.
In his new book, America’s Climate Century, State Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids calls on Americans to make the fight against climate change our new national purpose. After the heat and drought of 2012, Hurricane Sandy and all of the other recent climate disasters, he says that it is time for America to take climate action.
Royce White played basketball and was the leading scorer for Iowa State from 2011-2012 before he went on to be a first-round draft pick in the NBA. He also has been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which causes people to experience exaggerated worry and tension, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Since going public with GAD, he has become an outspoken advocate for those with mental health issues.
The Consul General of Turkey in Chicago, Fatih Yildiz, paid a diplomatic visit to the Senate on Tuesday. He was born in Ankara and has worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affair since 1994. Yildiz spoke about the excellent relationship between Turkey and Iowa, and invited everyone to a Turkish reception later that day. From left: Senator Tom Courtney, I, His Excellency Fatih Yildiz, and Senator Daryl Beall, vice-chair of the International Relations Committee.
On May 8, eighth-grade students from Sumner-Fredericksburg Middle School took a field trip to the State Capitol. As a former social studies teacher, it doesn't take me long to slip back into my old role, explaining how bills are introduced and become laws and reviewing some of the major issues in this legislative session.
Legislators have worked hard during the 2013 session to create more opportunities for Iowans who want to improve their skills and businesses that need more skilled workers. This is the best way to grow Iowa’s middle class and our state’s economy. We can do it by providing more resources to our community colleges so that Iowans can get their GED, learn basic skills and earn industry-recognized certificates in welding, health care, technology and other areas. As chair of the Senate Education Budget, which provides funding for many job-training initiatives, that’s a message I’ve heard a lot from my colleagues, including Senator Steve Sodders of State Center.