Iowa State Senate
|Iowa State Senate|
|Partisan control:||Democratic Party|
|2015 session start:||January 12, 2015|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Pam Jochum (D)|
|Majority Leader:||Michael Gronstal (D)|
|Minority Leader:||Bill Dix (R)|
Democratic Party (26)
Republican Party (24)
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||Art III, Section 1, Iowa Constitution|
|Salary:||$25,000/year + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 4, 2014 (25 seats)|
|Next election:||November 8, 2016 (25 seats)|
|Redistricting:||Iowa Board of Apportionment|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate Standing Committees
- 7 History
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
As of May 2015, Iowa is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.
The Legislative Department of the Iowa Constitution establishes when the Iowa General Assembly, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 2 of the article states that the General Assembly is to convene its regular session on the second Monday of January of each year. The General Assembly can also be called into special session by a proclamation of the Governor of Iowa or by a written request of two-thirds of both houses of the General Assembly.
- See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions
In 2015, the Legislature is in session from January 12 through May 22 (projected).
Major issues during the 2015 legislative session include road funding, state budget, income tax cuts, broadband expansion, school calendars, local option sales taxes, medical marijuana, eminent domain, banning traffic cameras and a sales tax increase.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 13 through May 2.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included cutting the state income tax, increasing the gas tax and a minimum wage increase.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 through May 23.
Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included education reform, providing healthcare for low-income and other uninsured residents, and a tax relief package that sought to lower property taxes.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 9 to May 9.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the General Assembly was in session from January 10 through July 1. The legislature was in an extended session due to concerns on how to reduce commercial property taxes. House Republicans favored a 25 per cent reduction in commercial property tax rates, while Senate Democrats proposed a tax credit that would be paid directly to the owners of the commercial properties. During the extended session, legislators did not receive per diem. Iowa legislative rules allow lawmakers to receive per diem for a maximum of 100 days in even numbered years, and 110 days in odd numbered years. The 110th calendar day of the 2011 session was April 30. The rules may be amended at any time to extend the legislative session.
Iowa ended its 2011 fiscal year with $54.5 million in revenue collections above estimated figures, an increase of 6 percent over fiscal 2010. The 6 percent increase was one percent higher than expected.
As a whole, Iowa collected $329.3 million more in revenue than it did last year. Last year's overall total revenue is still not yet known, due to the continuing flow of expenses or revenue collections that can be attributed to fiscal year 2010. To account for this, the books will remain open until September, as is customary for the state.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 11th to March 30th.
Role in state budget
- See also: Iowa state budget and finances
- Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in June or July.
- Agency requests are submitted to the governor by October 1.
- Agency hearings are held in November and December.
- Public hearings are held in December.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the Iowa State Legislature by February 1.
- The legislature adopts a budget in April or May.
- The fiscal year begins in July.
The governor is constitutionally and statutorily required to submit a balanced budget. In turn, the legislature is statutorily required to adopt a balanced budget.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Iowa was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Iowa received a grade of A- and a numerical score of 90, indicating that Iowa was "leading" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Iowa was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
- See also: Iowa State Senate elections, 2014
Elections for the office of Iowa State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on June 3, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was March 14, 2014.
- See also: Iowa State Senate elections, 2012
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Iowa State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 28||Michael Breitbach||0.1%||29,700||John Beard|
|District 26||Mary Jo Wilhelm||0.4%||30,934||Merlin Bartz|
|District 48||Dan Zumbach||1.7%||32,273||Nate Willems|
|District 30||Jeff Danielson||2.1%||33,211||Matt Reisetter|
|District 4||Dennis Guth||5.7%||30,332||Bob Jennings|
|District 42||Rich Taylor||6%||29,735||Larry Kruse|
|District 32||Brian Schoenjahn||6.5%||30,684||Elliott Henderson|
|District 46||Chris Brase||6.7%||29,910||Shawn Hamerlinck|
|District 36||Steven Sodders||8.2%||29,093||Jane A. Jech|
|District 49||Rita Hart||9.2%||31,703||Andrew Naeve|
- See also: Iowa State Senate elections, 2010
Elections for the office of Iowa State Senate were held in Iowa on November 2, 2010. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was March 19, 2010 and the primary Election Day was on June 8, 2010.
Iowa State Senators serve four-year terms and are not subject to term limits. Half of the senate is up for re-election every two years.
The partisan breakdown of the Senate before and after the election was as follows:
|Iowa State Senate|
|Party||As of November 1, 2010||After the 2010 Election|
In 2010, a total of $5,058,528 was raised in campaign contributions by those running for state senate. The top donors were:
|2010 Donors, Iowa State Senate|
|Iowa Democratic Party||$1,540,045|
|Iowa Republican Party||$607,907|
|Iowans for Tax Relief||$112,250|
|Associated General Contractors of Iowa||$89,750|
|Iowa Credit Union League||$80,000|
|Iowa Dental Association||$71,550|
|Iowa Bankers Association||$69,500|
|Iowa Farm Bureau||$66,779|
|Iowa Healthcare Association||$66,250|
|Butler County Republican Central Cmte||$61,300|
- See also: Iowa State Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the office of Iowa State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 3, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $6,045,502. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Iowa State Senate|
|Iowa Senate Democratic Majority Fund||$1,197,175|
|Iowa Republican Party||$380,724|
|Iowa Democratic Party||$254,129|
|Iowa State Education Association||$189,025|
|Associated General Contractors Of Iowa||$113,750|
|Iowa Credit Union League||$102,250|
|Iowans For Tax Relief||$78,500|
|Master Builders Of Iowa||$74,000|
|Iowa Dental Association||$69,428|
|Iowa Bankers Association||$68,364|
- See also: Iowa State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Iowa State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 6, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $7,456,412. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Iowa State Senate|
|Iowa Republican Party||$904,869|
|Iowa Senate Democratic Majority Fund||$872,628|
|Iowa Democratic Party||$639,997|
|Associated General Contractors Of Iowa||$130,250|
|Iowa Republican Party & Its Eisenhower Club||$80,982|
|Iowans For Tax Relief||$77,900|
|Cownie, James S||$72,100|
|Iowa Bankers Association||$68,850|
|Forward Together Pac||$66,000|
- See also: Iowa State Senate elections, 2004
Elections for the office of Iowa State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 8, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.
During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $7,217,102. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Iowa State Senate|
|Iowa Democratic Party||$1,569,820|
|Iowa Republican Party||$1,016,589|
|Iowa Association Of Realtors||$103,400|
|Associated General Contractors Of Iowa||$101,675|
|International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers||$82,650|
|Iowa Trial Lawyers Association||$65,850|
|Iowa Bankers Association||$59,904|
|Democracy For America||$53,000|
- See also: Iowa State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Iowa State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 4, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $4,266,190. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Iowa State Senate|
|Iowa Democratic Party||$424,611|
|Iowa Republican Party||$193,390|
|Iowa Republican Party & Its Eisenhower Club||$111,856|
|Associated General Contractors Of Iowa||$93,450|
|Effective Government Cmte||$74,000|
|Iowa State Education Association||$69,650|
|Iowa Association Of Realtors||$52,650|
|Master Builders Of Iowa||$36,750|
- See also: Iowa State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Iowa State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 6, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $4,079,038. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Iowa State Senate|
|Iowa Democratic Party||$450,276|
|Iowa Republican Party||$324,115|
|Iowa Republican Party & Its Eisenhower Club||$143,200|
|Associated General Contractors Of Iowa||$94,069|
|Iowa State Education Association||$53,150|
|Master Builders Of Iowa||$43,750|
|Iowa Federation Of Labor AFL-CIO||$35,100|
|Iowa Association Of Realtors||$31,550|
The Iowa Constitution states, "Senators shall be chosen for the term of four years, at the same time and place as representatives; they shall be twenty-five years of age, and possess the qualifications of representatives as to residence and citizenship."
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
If a vacancy occurs in the Senate, the Governor must call for a special election within five days of the vacancy. If the vacancy happens while the Senate is in session, the Governor can call the election to be held as soon as possible. However, a minimum a 18 day notice is required. All other special elections require a 45 day notice as long there are no school elections scheduled on the same day.
- See also: Redistricting in Iowa
The Iowa Legislative Service Agency is responsible for the redistricting process in Iowa. This entity is not a special commission or committee of legislators, but a nonpartisan entity established before the 1981 redistricting process that divides the state into districts based on key geographic principles, including population, contiguity, respect for political subdivisions, and compactness. The plan must be passed by the legislature and the governor before it becomes law.
Iowa's population grew 4.1 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Iowa's population was 2.93 million in 2000, and rose to 3.05 million in 2010. This rate was less than half of the national growth rate of roughly 10 percent between 2000 and 2010. Due to this slow growth, the U.S. Census Bureau determined that Iowa would only be represented by four members of the U.S. House of Representatives, rather than the five seats Iowa had during the 2000-2010 decade. Most of Iowa's growth occurred in the urban and suburban areas of the state, while most of the rural counties grew slowly or lost population.
On March 31, 2011, the Iowa Legislative Service Agency released its first map. This map paired two incumbent Republicans together in one U.S. House district and two incumbent Democrats together in another U.S. House district. The map also created 7 potential incumbent versus incumbent matchups in the State Senate elections as well as seven districts without incumbents. The State House map created 14 vacant districts and 14 more potential incumbent versus incumbent races.
The Iowa State Senate passed the plan 48 to 1. The House of Representatives approved the plan 90 to 7. Legislators remarked that, although not everyone was happy with the plan, it was fairly drawn.
The new State Senate districts vary from the ideal population count by no more than 1.65 percent, or less than a 550-resident deviation from the target for the least accurate district.
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Iowa legislature are paid $25,000/year. Additionally, legislators receive $135/day per diem tied to the federal rate. Polk County legislators receive $101.25/day.
When sworn in
Iowa legislators assume office the first day of January after their election.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of May 2015|
The Senate elects a President and President Pro Tempore from its members. The duties of the President include referring bills to committee, preserving order, and making procedural rulings. The President Pro Tempore presides over the Senate in the absence of the President.
Senate Standing Committees
The Iowa Senate has 17 standing committees:
- Economic Growth
- Government Oversight
- Human Resources
- Labor and Business Relations
- Local Government
- Natural Resources & Environment
- Rules and Administration
- State Government
- Veterans Affairs
- Ways and Means
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Iowa State Senate for 12 years while the Republicans were the majority for 8 years. During the final seven years, the senate was controlled by the Democrats.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Iowa state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Iowa enjoyed a nine-year period in the top-10 of the SQLI ranking between 2003 and 2012, under both divided government and a Democratic trifecta. During the period of the study, Iowa was in the top-10 of the SQLI ranking for twelve out of twenty years. Iowa claimed the top spot in the SQLI ranking twice, once in 2009 and again in 2012. The state’s lowest SQLI ranking came in 1995 (14th) under divided government.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 3.50
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 12.00
- SQLI average with divided government: 8.87
- census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
- Des Moines Register, "10 key issues facing Iowa Legislature in 2015," January 12, 2015
- theiowarepublican.com, "The Iowa 2014 Legislative Session: A Preview," January 13, 2014
- blogs.desmoinesregister.com, "Breaking News: Iowa Legislature could adjourn 2013 session Wednesday; progress made on key issues," May 21, 2013
- RadioIowa, Property tax reduction still holding up close of legislature, June 15, 2011
- DesMoinesRegister.com, Iowa ends fiscal year with better-than-expected revenues, July 14, 2011
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money: "Iowa Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money, "Iowa 2008 Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Iowa 2006 Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Iowa 2004 Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Iowa 2002 Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Iowa 2000 Candidates," accessed August 23, 2013
- "Iowa Constitution," accessed December 16, 2013
- Iowa General Assembly, "Iowa Election Law," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statute 69.14)]
- The Legislative Lawyer, "A Nonpartisan Approach to Redistricting," 2002
- U.S> Census Bureau, "2010 Census: Iowa Profile," 2011
- Des Moines Register, "Iowa loses U.S. House seat in shift from Midwest, Northeast to South," December 21, 2010
- Radio Iowa, "Detailed 2010 Census data for Iowa released," February 10, 2011
- The Iowa Independent, "Proposed redistricting plan brings minor legislative shifts," March 31, 2011
- Reuters, "Iowa legislature approves redistricting plan," April 14, 2011
- Des Moines Register, "How balanced is Iowa’s redistricting proposal? See for yourself," April 1, 2011
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Rules of the Iowa Senate 81st General Assembly - Rules 52-53
- Iowa State Senate Leadership
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