DES MOINES, Iowa — The freshman class in 2023’s Iowa legislature is large: 39 of the 100 are new to the job this year. And they will become part of a debate that has carried over from the past two years from the veterans who remain. Governor Kim Reynolds wants to switch millions of dollars from public schools to private schools. Republicans in the Senate approved her ideas but the House resisted her changes for the past two years.
Republicans have expanded their majority in the House, picking up four seats in the November election. That gives them 64. Speaker of the House Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, began his 17th year in the chamber. He pointed out that only three others remain from his 2007 class (Republican Matt Windschitl of Missouri Valley, Republican Dave Deyoe of Nevada and Democrat Ako Abdul-Samad of Des Moines).
Grassley formed a new committee, the House Education Reform Committee, and will serve as the chair. The position on this committee could enable him to help ensure that the governor’s newest education reform proposal can make it through.
“Oftentimes, our freshman legislators can spend their first session sitting back, listening and learning from the more experienced members,” Grassley said. “For this freshman class… not so much. You’ll be hitting the ground running right from the start. But I know you are up to the task.”
One of those freshman, Democrat Molly Buck of Ankeny, hopes to motivate people to encourage lawmakers to vote against the governor’s plan. Buck teaches 5th grade and has served as an educator for 26 years. “We have to mobilize our constituency. Although it seems that entities from outside of Iowa are really pushing these vouchers, when you go door to door and you talk to everyday Iowans, everyday Iowans are not in favor of vouchers,” Buck said.
Governor Reynolds is expected to lay out her education reform proposal during the Condition of the State Address Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. WHO 13 will carry the speech live.