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House freshmen taking first month in

BY REBECCA MORIN | FEBRUARY 11, 2015 5:00 AM

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With a month into the Iowa’s 86th legislative session, new members of the state House of Representatives have officially gotten their feet wet.

Currently, the House consists of 43 Democrats and 56 Republicans, with 11 representatives being first-timers.

Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake

Wills said this first month has been tough, but that’s why he wanted to be a representative. For the legislative session, he said, he hopes to help develop the budget, especially with how much funding will go to schools.

In addition, Wills said, he is an advocate for Homebase Iowa and hopes to see it continue.

“It was really great to hear those words, our troops and airmen are at the highest state of readiness than they ever been,” Wills said. “It was music to my ears because of my 25 years of my military service.”

Rep. Terry Baxter, R-Garner

Baxter said he hopes to help the legislature produce a balanced budget. He said he is concerned with a potential increase in the gas tax and hopes to do a lot of work regarding secondary roads.

“It’s incredible learning curve, so much to get my arms around,” Baxter said. “It’s like getting your doctorate for free.”

Rep. Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City

After spending 12 years in Iowa Senate, Sexton said he isn’t new to the game.

He said he is working on one bill that protects his constituents on over-regulation and over-taxation.

“I have a pretty good idea how this place works,” Sexton said.

Rep. Brian Best, R-Glidden

Best is the vice head of the Transportation Committee and also serves on the Economic Growth, Human Resources, and Natural Resources Committees.

The Daily Iowan was unable to get in touch with Best.

Rep. Charlie McConkey, D-Council Bluffs

McConkey said this month has been the “busiest but most rewarding time of my whole life.”

During this session, he said, he wants to mainly focus on education, and he is working to help fund allowable growth as well as expand preschool for 4-year-olds.

“When you first get here, it’s like trying to get a drink of water out of a fire hose,” he said.

Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison

Holt said this past month he has felt a lot of solemn moments in addition to moments of urgency.

“It’s been very exciting; on Jan. 12, when I raised my hand to be sworn in, it was a very special moment for me,” Holt said. “Last time I did that was when I was 18 and joined the Marine Corps.”

He said he is working on a bill to allow parents to take children to the shooting range to teach them how to shoot.

Rep. Zach Nunn, R-Bondurant

When Nunn’s old Future Farmer’s of America chapter stopped by the State Capitol, he said he took them to the top of the building, where they could see all the way out to their hometown.

“The best inspiration isn’t always who came before me as mentors but the young people,” he said.

Nunn said he is working to have the Legislature invest in sustainable education at the K-12 level and postsecondary schools.

Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, D-Waterloo

Brown-Powers said she is kept at the Capitol from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on most days but feels like her time so far has been rewarding.

She said in addition to working for education, she has tried to help some of her constituents, such as veterans, who said they would like to see that word seen as a proper noun.

“Progress is slow here, so you have to celebrate the little things,” she said.

Rep. Ross Paustian, R-Walcott

Paustian represents Scott County and is the vice chairman of the Agriculture Committee.

The DI was unable to get in contact with Paustian.

Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt

Though his first month has been fast-paced, Mommsen said as the time goes on he hopes to focus on infrastructure funding and water-quality issues.

“I was a little concerned about everyone being like ‘that freshman got you moment,’ but everyone has been very supportive,” he said.      

Democrat Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Dubuque

Finkenauer said it was great to be back at the Capitol after working as a legislative assistant in past years.

She said she is working on bills addressing student-loan debt, in addition to allowing tax credit for businesses that help back student loans.

They want to help you, and they get that it can be overwhelming,” she said.


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