INFONET 2020: Issue #11

Issue 11, 11/16/2020

Print This Newsletter
Go To Newsletter Archives

Articles in This Issue:


The 2020 election was record-breaking in may ways.  Iowa elected more women than ever to the Legislature. Four of the six people representing Iowa in Washington DC are women.  Iowa had the third highest voter turnout in the nation - 78.6% of those registered voted.  That was not far off from Minnesota (79.9%) and Maine (79.2%).  

Nationally, 148 million votes have been counted (so far) with former Vice President Joe Biden winning with 75 million votes, the most votes cast for a presidential candidate ever. President Donald Trump received more than 70 million votes, the highest total for a losing candidate.  In Iowa, we have a congressional race that was separated by only 47 votes, just .0001% of the total 394,383 votes cast.  State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks and former State Senator Rita Hart took turns leading as votes came in after the election.  The votes are currently being recounted by hand, so the final outcome will not be known until the end of the month.

We hope that you had a chance to participate in this historic election.  County auditors throughout Iowa and thousands of poll workers worked hard to make sure everyone had the opportunity to vote on or before Election Day.  We know that voters with disabilities may face barriers to voting, so we want to hear from you. Your response helps us better understand how our organizations can continue to support voters with disabilities. 

Did you vote this year?
If not, what stopped you?  
If you voted, tell us about it. 

Click here to take our survey.

Back to Top


Iowa will be sending three new faces to represent our state in Washington D.C.  Senator Joni Ernst (Republican) and Representative Cindy Axne (Democrat) were both re-elected. US Senate seats are six-year terms, so Senator Ernst is not up for re-election again until 2026.  US Representative seats are up every two years, so Representative Axne will need to run again in 2022.  Senator Ernst represents the entire state; Rep. Axne represents Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, which goes from the SW corner of the state up to Council Bluffs and over to Des Moines.  A map of congressional districts can be found here.

US Representative Abby FInkenauer (Democrat) and US Representative Steve King (Republican) were not re-elected; Finkenauer lost in the November general election and King lost during the June primary election. Below is a full list of our Congressional delegation and some information about two of our three new members.  We will await the outcome of the Hart/Miller-Meeks race before including information about the winner (either way, it's a new face in Congress).

Congresswoman-Elect Ashley Hinson (1st Congressional District)

          • Former award-winning news reporter (KCRG-TV Cedar Rapids).
          • Current State Representative.
          • B.A. in Broadcast Journalism - University of Southern California
          • Husband Matt & two young sons.
          • Iowa native; lives in Marion.
          • Member of Antioch Christian Church, March of Dimes, Young Parents Network, National Council on Youth Leadership


Congressman-Elect Randy Feenstra (3rd Congressional District)

          • Current State Senator.
          • Former Sioux County Treasurer.
          • Former Hull City Administrator
          • Former Head of Sales for Foreign Candy Company.
          • BA from Dordt College & MBA from Iowa State University.
          • Served on boards of Sioux Center Hospital & Lewis and Clark Regional Water.
          • Wife Lynette & four children (middle school to grad school).
About Timing...Your current congressional members (Finkenauer, Loebsack, Axne & King) will continue to represent you through the end of the year. New members will be sworn in at an official ceremony in January 2021.  So continue to stay connected with your current congresspeople - they still may vote on a new COVID-19 package.

Back to Top


Republicans kept control of the Iowa Legislature and actually grew their numbers in the Iowa House of Representatives.  Going into the election, Republicans had 53 members in the House and 32 in the Senate. Moving into the 2021 legislative session, Republicans will now have 59 members in the House and 31 members in the Senate. Senate Republicans could get to 32 if Sen. Miller-Meeks loses her congressional race, or if she loses and the Republcian candidate to fill her seat is successful.  Democrats could get to 19 if a special election is called and their candidate wins.

Currently, there are 8 new Representatives in the Iowa Senate (7 Republicans, 1 Democrat) - and 18 new faces in the Iowa House (14 Republicans, 4 Democrats).  Here's a quick look at each of our new members.


  • Jeff Taylor (R-SD2replaces Randy Feenstra and is a Political Science Professor at Dordt University. 
  • Craig Williams (R-SD4replaces Mark Segebart and is an Agricultural Business Consultant with Context Network.
  • Sarah Trone Garriott (D-SD22) replaces Charles Schneider and is a Lutheran Pastor & Interfaith Engagement Coordinator for the Des Moines Religious Council.
  • Jesse Green (R-SD24) replaces Jerry Behn and is a rodeo organizer and Webster County farmer.
  • Mike Klimesh (R-SD28) replaces Micheal Breitbach and is a manager at Graphics Inc and Spillville mayor.
  • Dawn Driscoll (R-SD38) replaces Tim Kapucian and is a farmer and recruiter for Hummer Agribusiness Search.
  • Jeff Reichman (R-SD 42) beat incumbent Rich Taylor and owns Tri-State Home Inspection and is a shift leader at Roquette.
  • Tim Goodwin (R-SD44) replaces Tom Greene and is a self-employed former teacher and NBA community relations professional.


  • Dennis Bush (R-HD3replaces Dan Huseman and is a farmer and Cherokee County Supervisor. 
  • Henry Stone (R-HD7replaces Tedd Gassman and is a retired Master Sgt. in the Air Force who currently coaches the Waldorf Univ. football team.
  • Steve Hanson (D-HD14) replaces Tim Kacena and is a former State Senator and State Representative who currently is the DIrector of the Sioux City Public Museum.
  • Brent Siegrist (R-HD16) replaces Mary Ann Hanusa and is the former Speaker of the Iowa House who just retired as the Director of the Area Education Agencies of Iowa.
  • Carter Nordman (R-HD19) replaces Chris Hagenow and is a student at UNI who owns his own cleaning business.
  • Brooke Boden (R-HD26) beat incumbent Scott Ourth and owns a dance studio as well as being certified by the FAA to repair and inspect her family's hot balloons.
  • Garrett Gobble (R-HD38) beat incumbent Heather Matson and is an 8th grade social studies teacher in Ankeny.
  • Eddie Andrews (R-HD39) beat incumbent Karin Derry and is a bilingual (Spanish/English) minister & tech entrepreneur.
  • Shannon Latham (R-HD54replaces Linda Upmeyer and is co-owner/VicePresident at Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. 
  • Steven Bradley (R-HD58beat incumbent Andy McKean and is a dentist and private pilot/flight instructor.
  • Chad Ingels (R-HD64) replaces Bruce Bearinger and is a farmer and former ISU Extension watershed specialist.
  • Eric Gjerde (D-HD67) replaces Ashley Hinson and is a special education teacher and coach at Cedar Rapids' Jefferson High School.
  • Sue Cahill (D-HD71) replaces Mark Smith and is a teacher who also served on the Marshalltown City Council.
  • Cherielynn Westrich (R-HD81) beat incumbent Mary Gaskill and is a former TV personality (Overhaulin'), small business owner (hydrolic clutch pedals) and car builder/restorer.
  • Martin Graber (R-HD83) beat incumbent Jeff Kurtz and is a financial advisor with Ameriprise.
  • Christina Bohannan (D-HD85) beat incumbent Vicki Lensing in the Democratic primary; she is a University of Iowa law professor and author.
  • Mark Cisneros (R-HD91) replaces Gary Carlson and is a commercial truck driver and small business owner.
  • Charlie McClintock (R-HD95) replaces Louie Zumbach and is a 911 manager for Cedar Rapids and former Alburnett mayor.

These new lawmakers will be sworn and officially become Senator and Representative on the first day of session, January 11, 2021.  

Back to Top


As mentioned earlier, only 47 votes separates State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks and former State Senator Rita Hart in their race to represent Iowa's 2nd District in Congress. Sen. Miller-Meeks has tentatively been elected to the US House of Representatives, but there is a recount currently underway.  We do not know if and when a special election will be held for Senate District 41 (which includes all of Van Buren and Davis counties and much of Wapello and Jefferson counties, including Fairfield and Ottumwa).  If Miller-Meeks' lead is upheld, she will resign from the state senate and a special election will be held to fill the final two years of her term.  Here is the special election process:

Legislator Resigns >> within 5 days >> Governor Sets Date >> 45 day (at least) notice

The process all starts when a legislator resigns - but the recount must be done before that can happen.  The deadline for a recount's results is 18 days after the county's certify the vote, in this case November 28. The Secretary of State will certify the state's results on Tuesday, November 30.  So if the vote holds and Sen. Miller-Meeks wins, the earliest a special election could be held is January 19, 2021.  That is one week after the legislative session begins.

Back to Top


Every two years, legislators from each political party in the Iowa House of Representatives and in the Iowa Senate pick leaders.  There are four leadership teams at the Iowa Capitol: House Majority Leaders, House Minority Leaders, Senate Majority Leaders and Senate Minority Leaders.  These leaders organize the other legisllators  and map out their plans to get their priorities addressed, and assign their members to committees.  

Majority party leaders have the most power.  In addition to assigning the Chair and Vice Chair of the committees, they also schedule debates, assign bills to committees, and are in charge of negotiations between House, Senate, and Governor.  The announcement of leadership teams often tells us the types of issues that will become priorities.

Senate Republicans and Democrats have selected their new leadership team for the 2021 session. We knew there would be some changes:  Sen. Janet Petersen (Des Moines) announced she would be stepping down as Senate Minority Leader and President of the Senate Charles Schneider (West Des Moines) retired this year.

Senate Republican (Majority) Leaders:

  • Sen. Jack Whitver (Ankeny) remains as Senate Majority Leader.
  • Sen. Jake Chapman (Adel) was elected Senate President.
  • Sen. Brad Zaun (Urbandale) was elected Senate President Pro Tempore.
  • Sen. Amy Sinclair (Allerton) was elected Senate Majority Whip.
  • Sens. Chris Cournoyer (LeClaire), Carrie Koelker (Dyersville), Mark Lofgren (Muscatine) & Zach Whiting (Spirit Lake) were elected Asst. Senate Majority Leaders.

Senate Democratic (Minority) Leaders:

  • Sen. Zach Wahls (Coralville) elected Senate Minority Leader.
  • Sen. Amanda Ragan (Mason City) elected Senate Minority Whip.
  • Sens. Nate Boulton (Des Moines), Bill Dotzler (Waterloo), Pam Jochum (Dubuque), Herman Quirmbach (Ames) & Jackie Smith (Sioux City) were elected Asst. Senate Minority Leaders.

House Republicans announced most of their leadership team, and House Democrats elected their full slate last week.

House Republican (Majority) Leaders:

  • Rep. Pat Grassley (New Hartford) remains Speaker of the House.
  • Rep. Matt Windschitl (Missouri Valley) remains House Majority Leader.
  • Rep. John Wills (Spirit Lake) remains Speaker Pro Tempore.
  • Rep. Mike Sexton (Rockwell City) remains House Majority Whip.
  • Asst. Majority Leaders will be announced later.
House Democratic (Minority) Leaders:
  • Rep. Todd Prichard (Charles City) remains House Minority Leader.
  • Rep. Jennifer Konfrst (Windsor Heights) becomes the House Minority Whip.
  • Reps. Brian Meyer (Des Moines), Lindsay James (Dubuque), Charlie McConkey (Council Bluffs) & Eric Gjerde (Cedar Rapids).
We do not expect to hear about committee chairs or memberships until December.

Back to Top


We do not yet know what the 2021 legislative session will look like as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in nearly every Iowa county. We do expect legislators to meet in person at the Capitol but we do not know if committee meetings and subcommittees will be held in person or virtually, and if the public will have the opportunity to participate fully.  We will keep you updated, but we do know that the Iowa Constitution requires the 110-day session to start on January 11, 2021.  If leaders follow existing rules: 

January 11, 2021
First Day of Legislative Session

January 12, 2021
Governor's "Condition of the State" Message & Budget Recommendations

February 12, 2021
Last day for individual legislators to request bills (committee chairs & leaders can still request after this)

March 5, 2021
FIrst legislative deadline ("first funnel") - bills must be reported out of committee of origin.

Apri 2, 2021
Second legislative deadline ("second funnel") - bills must be reported out of committee in opposite chamber.

April 30, 2021
110th day of the legislative session - legislators stop receiving per diem expenses on this day. 

Legislators an pre-file bill requests (that is, request them before the session begins).  You can ask your legislator to sponsor a bill to address an issue you care about - you just have to tell your story and make your case.  You can see the list of pre-filed bill requests here.  Right now they haven't added requests for the 2021 session, but we expect that to get updated within the next month.

Back to Top


Congress has yet to pass a new COVID-19 relief package that will help people who continue to face unemployment, health centers and hospitals caring for those with the virus, and local governments trying to keep the public safe..

None of the plans proposed yet include funds for people with disabilities and the people who support them in this bill. You can help by calling or emailing your members of Congress to tell them about how COVID-19 has changed your life, for example your housing, services, health, school, or work. Every call and email matters.

  • Email both your US Senators and US Representative with one click here - all you need to know is your address and what you want to say.  We'll do the rest!  Click here to get started.
  • If you prefer to call, you can do so by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (voice) or (202) 224-3091(tty):  Ask to be connected to your Senators (Sen. Charles Grassley & Sen. Joni Ernst) and your Representative. Your US Representative will be one of the following: Cindy Axne, Abby Finkenauer, Steve King, or Dave Loebsack.  Just enter your address here to find out which represents you. 

Back to Top


Click here to download, print or view the formatted PDF version of Issue #11.

Back to Top