State Sen. Amy Sinclair is the Iowa Senate president as the Iowa legislative session began on Monday, Jan. 9. She gained the seat following Senate President Jake Chapman’s defeat in November’s election.
Republican lawmakers held elections for legislative leadership after the party won a supermajority in the state Senate and added seats in the House. Chapman was defeated by Democratic state Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott in District 14.
Sinclair of Allerton, who has served as majority whip since 2018, will take over the role, where she will preside over debates and rule on parliamentary questions.
“This role is critical to the success of our caucus and the Senate as a whole,” Sinclair said in a statement. “I appreciate the trust they have put in me, and I look forward to continuing the progress we have made to make Iowa the best state in the country.”
Because of redistricting, Sinclair is new to Union County as is Representative Ray “Bubba” Sorensen. They both have the townships along the Union-Clarke county line and most of the Union-Adair county line.
Sinclair’s district also has all of Adair, Madison, Lucas, Decatur, Wayne and portions of Dallas, Union, and Appanoose counties.
Sorensen’s district includes Adair, Madison and a portions of Clarke, Dallas, and Union counties.
Representative Joel Fry’s district includes most of Clarke county, all of Decatur, Lucas, and Wayne counties, and a portion of Appanoose county.
No information is currently available about any legislative lunches or coffees planned in Osceola. In years past, lunches have been held at Lakeside Hotel & Casino. Any lunches or coffees are open to the public at no charge, and will be relayed as that information becomes available.
Most of the incumbent GOP leaders were reelected to their positions for the upcoming session. Majority Leader Jack Whitver will keep his position leading the Senate Republican caucus and planning the party’s agenda.
“I am humbled to be reelected as the Senate Majority Leader for the Iowa Senate and lead one of the most productive and conservative caucuses in the country,” Whitver said in a statement. “I am proud of the accomplishments we have had over the last several years, like historic tax reform, controlling spending, and supporting law enforcement.”
In the Iowa House, Republicans reelected Speaker Pat Grassley, House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl and Speaker Pro Tem John Wills. All three of the state representatives were first elected to the leadership roles in 2019.
Republicans have held the majority in the House for 12 years.
“We listen to our constituents and we deliver on what we say we’re going to do,” Grassley said in a news release. “It is for that reason that we have continued to grow our majority and now represent part or all of 99 of Iowa’s 99 counties.”
Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds expects to try a private-school funding plan for Iowa school students this year. Last year proposal would allow up to 10,000 students to use part of the state’s per-pupil allocation for private school tuition. The idea never developed.
Sorensen and Sinclair both agreed, to a degree, that education reform will likely be a large part of the talk during this session, however they both said there are a lot of items to be discussed in any session. Sorensen called property taxes and eminent domain, relating to carbon dioxide-capture pipelines, as two other big issues on the table. Sinclair echoed Sorensen, saying that property tax reform is likely to be the next biggest topic after education.
Sorensen said voters can expect him to be visible in the community and welcome to them talking with him in public about various issues. He wants to make himself available to constituents, listen to them and take their voice to the capitol.
Sinclair explained that she “likes data.” She likes to present facts and speak “in terms of realities,” even when topics sometimes generate emotional conversation.
“When we’re talking about parents and their kids it does get emotional, right? You can’t be entirely data-driven in those conversations, but what is important is understanding that parents have rights in those education conversations,” Sinclair said. “Coming from a rural area, we have to do everything we can do to support rural school districts as well when we’re working through those processes.”
There’s one new member of Iowa’s GOP House leadership: Rep. Henry Stone, who will serve as House majority whip as he starts his second term in the House. Rep. Mike Sexton, who won Tuesday unopposed in House District 7, previously held the position.
Iowa Capital Dispatch contributed to this story