Week 2:
Session Begins

Ringgenberg Fellow in Legislative Affairs

Iowa State Senate Democratic Research Staff | Des Moines, Iowa

January 19, 2019

Hello, again. This is Alex Salisbury interning at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines for the Iowa State Senate Democrats Research Staff. Session is underway in Des Moines and with both the House and Senate swearing in on Monday and immediately getting to work on this year’s legislative slate. For me and the other Senate Democrat interns, that meant the start of working on media and other projects for the State Senators. After swearing in of all the Senators, the Senate Majority Leader, Republican Jack Whitver of Ankeny, gave an opening speech outlining what the Senate Republicans would be hoping to achieve during session.

In response Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Janet Petersen of Des Moines, gave a speech outlining what the Senate Democrats hoped to achieve during session. As soon as Senator Petersen was done, we immediately went to work editing and framing her speech to center around the key issues the Senate Democrats wanted to focus on this session. The primary points Sen. Petersen focused on were enfranchising felons(who in the state of Iowa have an absurdly tough time regaining their rights after being released), increasing public education funding on all levels from pre-K through college, and protecting Medicare and Medicaid from being privatized even more in the state of Iowa. This concise message was the basis of what the Senate Democrats hoped to achieve during session.

For me personally, I found out I would have a slightly different job than my fellow interns. Due to my past experience of working on campaigns(I have either interned or staffed on every cycle since President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012) I would be working on event coordination and constituent outreach for the State Senators. In the past two election cycles, Democrats had lost seats in the State Senate, something which did not sit well with Senate Democrats. While I can’t share too much, I am in charge of organizing a 2 day, 7 stop event for a State Senator in Eastern Iowa so that they can connect with their constituents better. In the past, Democrats have been accused of ignoring the smaller communities in their district focusing on the largest cities. While that may be true,  the trip I am planning consists of the Senator holding “listening post” events in towns smaller than 1,000 people to cities upwards of 100,000. It is important that we not only talk, but listen to our fellow citizens even if they are not a specific person’s base. This includes going to rural communities as they are the backbone and foundation of the state of Iowa.

That’s all for now. Until next week!

Myself and my boss, Rusty Martin, on the floor of the Iowa State Senate.

Alex Salisbury '19

Alex is a history and political science major from Iowa City, Iowa.