Week 8:
More Bills, More Events and More Candidates

Ringgenberg Fellow in Legislative Affairs

Iowa State Senate Democratic Research Staff | Des Moines, Iowa

March 4, 2019

Hello again from the Iowa State Capitol! Another week working for the Senate Democrats Research Staff has brought about both excitement and a trip to learn about issues plaguing Iowans. The week started off with the Industrial Hemp bill I have mentioned before being passed out of subcommittee, on a unanimous vote. I recorded the subcommittee meeting and therefore was able to be there to see the culmination of as Senator Kevin Kinney from North Liberty stated, “3 years of hard work to bring a new crop to the farmers of Iowa.” While some may be concerned about industrial hemp and its relation to marijuana, industrial hemp was legalized by the federal government last year when Congress passed the Farm Bill. As well, industrial hemp grown in Iowa legally cannot have more than 3% of THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, so there’s little to no risk of hemp being grown for drug use.

This week I have been finalizing the events for a district roadshow for State Senator Zach Wahls of Coralville. Sen. Wahls as you might remember is known for the speech he gave at the Iowa Capitol back in 2011 that went viral at a time when that term was still in its infancy. I will link that speech below. Wahls now represents Senate District 37 which includes Coralville and Solon in Johnson County and all of Cedar County [SD 37]. This is the second series of events I have planned for Sen. Wahls but this time I have a clear schedule, and I was able to join him. We went to 5 different communities to hold “Listening Post” events where community members come and voice their concerns or questions they have for the Senator. It was incredible to see representative democracy at its most basic form and to see how Sen. Wahls interacted with his constituents. The most common questions asked were about school funding, mental health, and the changes to the judicial system in Iowa.

State Senator Zach Wahls meeting with constituents in West Branch, Iowa.

We are still 11 months from the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses! Even though there’s still a ways to go candidates are out in full force.  I road tripped up to Dubuque with the other Senate Democrat Interns to see Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren speak at an event. Policy-wise I really enjoyed what Elizabeth Warren said, and she is a great orator. I like many other Iowans am still undecided about the caucuses, but it is nice to get out and see what each candidate has to offer.

Myself and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in Dubuque.

Alex Salisbury '19

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