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Special elections are not the only things that bring change in the Iowa Legislature.  This summer two prominent Senate Republicans from Sioux City were removed from their committee leadership posts, and last month Senate Democrats elected a new Minority Leader. 

Senator Janet Petersen of Des Moines became the new Senate Minority Leader in October.  Sen. Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids had led that caucus since their former leader (Mike Gronstal) lost his Senate seat.  

Sen. Petersen is serving her second term in the Iowa Senate after serving six terms in the Iowa House of Representatives. She represents Senate District 18 in northwest Des Moines.

Senator Petersen is the Senate Democratic Leader and ranking member on the Commerce Committee. She also serves on the Government Oversight, Judiciary, State Government and Ways & Means committees.

Sen. Petersen graduated from UNI with a degree in Communications and earned a master’s degree in Integrated Communications from Drake University.  Before joining the Iowa Legislature, she worked on the 1992 Clinton/Gore Campaign, for the American Heart Association and for Strategic America, a marketing communications firm.

In 2004, Janet proclaimed a goal of making Iowa “the safest place in the nation to have a baby” after losing her own daughter, Grace, to an umbilical cord complication when she was nine months pregnant. That year, she helped Iowa launch its stillbirth registry project which has brought more than $2 million in research funding to our state to help find the causes and cures for stillbirths, which cause more than 26,000 deaths in the United States each year.

In 2008, Sen. Petersen founded a nonprofit organization with four other central Iowa women called Healthy Birth Day. The organization is devoted to reducing the number of stillbirths in Iowa and nationwide through research, education and advocacy.  Sen. Petersen lists the 2008 Smoke-free Air Act, which she sponsored, as one of her top accomplishments. Janet is married to Brian Pattinson, who works for Principal Global Investors, and together they have three children. 


As you might expect, it has been tough keeping our Guide to the Iowa Legislature updated with all these changes.  You can always find our most current version (right now, that's dated 11/10/17) online here.