Listen to the new House leaders for 2011

House Speaker-elect Kraig Paulsen and House Majority Leader-elect Linda Upmeyer held a news conference late this morning at the statehouse.  Listen here.

Cutting the current year’s state budget is priority #1 for House Republicans.  Paulsen says they’ll have to crunch the numbers, but he’s aiming for “hundreds of millions” in cuts.  Democrats appear to be holding a slim 26-23 majority in the Iowa Senate, so it’s unclear whether a “deappropriations” bill would clear both the House and Senate.  Therefore, if Republican Governor-elect Terry Branstad wants to pare the current year’s state budget, he may be forced to issue an executive order making an across-the-board cut.

Upmeyer also talked about being the first woman elected as a floor leader in the Iowa House. 

I started covering the legislature in 1985 as an intern for WOI Radio.  Harriett Stromer, Linda Upmeyer’s mother, was WOI Radio”s secretary in the Iowa House.  Back in those days, secretaries filled huge binders with copies of each bill introduced in the House and Senate.  Each day a “clip sheet” would be issued with every one of the amendments that had been introduced the previous day.  The secretaries then took scissors, cut out each individual amendment from the clip sheet, and taped it to the applicable part of the bill.  Or, if the amendment was pages long, they’d punch three holes along the left-hand side of the pages and put the amendment in the binder right beside the bill. 

This, as you might imagine, was a labor-intensive process, but it was essential back then for WOI, as the radio station went “live” with House and Senate debate for hours at a time, and the anchor of that coverage had to be able to read the bills and fill the lulls (it’s called “dead air” in radio) during the debate with information about the bills and amendments.  Every day of the session, Harriett would climb the steps to the WOI Radio perch in the north balcony of the Iowa House, fish all the bill books out and start incorporating that day’s batch of amendments.  Today you can see all this stuff on your computer with the click of a mouse. 

Harriett was married to Del Stromer, who was the Republican floor leader back then and she was a great tutor and source of information for a rookie reporter trying to “cover” the legislature. 

Del (short for Delwyn) served 23 years in the legislature, worked for the Bush Administration in Kansas City for a bit, then served as Senator Grassley’s state director until his retirement in 1999. Del Stromer died in the fall of 2003, nearly a year after his daughter Linda Upmeyer had been elected to the Iowa House for her first term.   Here’s part of what Upmeyer said today about her dad:

“So we never really did talk about any future I might have and what my goals would be, but he was very excited to have me run for the legislature,” Upmeyer says. “He was always kind of curious that I would leave a good job to go do that, but he was very excited that I did.”

Read more about Upmeyer, plus see details of other women like the late Mary Lundby and the late Minnette Doderer who’ve been pioneers in the legislature.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Harriet Stromer says

    I enjoyed those days…thanks for remembering them! I miss all the good stories and jokes in the press box!