House leaders create new “Rebuild Iowa” panel

The big news regarding leadership in the Iowa legislature occured on Monday, while I was on vacation, when House Republicans elected Rep. Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha as their leader.  He replaces Rep. Christopher Rants of Sioux City who had been a House GOP leader since 1999.

Today, House Democrats met in private.  Leadership changes were not expected and did not occur. Rep. Pat Murphy of Dubuque will continue as House Speaker and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines will continue as House Majority Leader. Read the news release from House Democrats below:

Des Moines, Iowa – After expanding their majority to 56 in last week’s election, Democrats in the Iowa House met at the State Capitol on Wednesday to elect leaders and begin planning for the 2009 legislative session. House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines, and House Speaker Pro Tem Polly Bukta of Clinton will all continue in their leadership roles when the next General Assembly convenes on January 12th.

"Our top priority will be to help Iowans recover and rebuild from the devastating storms and slowing national economy.  We are creating a new House Rebuild Iowa Committee that will consider recommendations from the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission and help Iowans recover from the natural disasters this year,” said Murphy.

"It’s a great honor to serve as House Majority Leader and I’m extremely proud that the House is more representative of our state with a record six African-Americans serving in 2009.  Democrats are committed to keeping our promises, focusing on the bread and butter issues that Iowans care about, and keeping the state’s fiscal house in order,” said McCarthy.

Democrats also elected four Assistant Majority Leaders who include: Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad of Des Moines, Rep. Elesha Gayman of Davenport, Rep. Mike Reasoner of Creston, and Rep. John Whitaker of Hillsboro.

“Earlier this year, we outlined a Plan to Secure Iowa’s Economic Future to help middle class families and small businesses squeezed by a troubled global economy.  We are anxious to get to work on our plans to make Iowa a ‘green’ state, reward hard work, and equip our children for the future,” said Rep. Gayman.

There are nine new House Democrats that were elected last week: John Beard of Decorah, Kerry Burt of Waterloo, Gene Ficken of Independence, Chuck Insenhart of Dubuque, Jerry Kearns of Keokuk, Larry Marek of Riverside, Sharon Steckman of Mason City, Phyllis Thede of Davenport, and Nate Willems of Lisbon.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.