What to Do With All That New Power? Re-Elected House Speaker Offers Hints

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The specifics may come next month, but general themes emerged on the day Iowa House Republicans chose their leadership for the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 9.

The top three house leaders will remain the same following the election Wednesday morning from the Republican members (see the full team at the end of this story).

new-team

(House Republican leaders walk into the chamber after leadership elections).

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, provided some possible hints at what issues her party will push, given the fact they now have 59 of the 100 house seats, combined with 29 of the 50 senate seats and a Republican governor.

  • EDUCATION: Upmeyer mentioned "flexibility" and that her home school district doesn't look like Des Moines' district. She didn't specify the flexibility she may seek.
  • SCHOOL FUNDING: Lawmakers routinely ignore a state law that mandates that they set per pupil funding approximately a year-and-a-half before the start of a school year. When asked if Republicans will try to change that law, Upmeyer responded, "We'll see."
  • WATER QUALITY: In 2010, nearly two-thirds of Iowans approved a measure to increase the statewide sales tax by 3/8th of a cent. The money would fund water quality improvements but legislators have failed to put the  measure into practice. Will they finally do this in 2017? Upmeyer said, "I haven't heard anybody asking for a tax increase."
  • INCOME TAX CUTS: The last few years, house Republicans have passed personal income tax cuts but senate Democrats blocked those cuts. Upmeyer said of another push for cuts, "I have no doubt we're going to study that."

Here's the announcement from house Republicans on the newly-elected leadership:

Rep. Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) was re-elected as Speaker of the House.  Upmeyer has served as Speaker of the House since 2015, and previously served as House Majority Leader from 2010-2015 and House Minority Whip from 2008-2010.  She was just elected to serve her seventh term in the Iowa House.  She served as a nurse practitioner at Mercy Medical Center for many years.

Rep. Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights) was chosen to continue as House Majority Leader, a position he has held since August 2015.  First elected in 2008, Hagenow was just elected to serve his fifth term in the Iowa House.  He has previously served as House Majority Whip and Chair of the Government Oversight Committee.  He is an attorney and founding partner of the Des Moines law firm, Whitaker, Hagenow & Gustoff, LLP.

Rep. Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley) was chosen to continue serving as Speaker Pro Tempore.  Windschitl was first elected in 2006 and has previously served as an Assistant Leader.  He works as a switchman for Union Pacific Railroad.

Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) was chosen to serve as House Majority Whip.  Nunn was first elected in 2014 and previously served as an Assistant Leader and as Vice Chair of the Economic Growth Committee and Education Appropriations Subcommittee.  He is a small business owner.

Assistant Leaders elected were:

  • Megan Jones (R-Sioux Rapids)

  • Jarad Klein (R-Keota)

  • Mike Sexton (R-Rockwell City)

  • John Wills (R-Spirit Lake)