Speaker Upmeyer’s Weekly Newsletter

UTGD

Meet Alex

With nicer weather finally here, farmers have gotten out to the fields to begin planting for this year.  Several legislators are farmers themselves, so they are looking forward to wrapping up session so that they can return home and get back to life on the farm.  We continued work on the state budget this week and while we may not complete our work by Day 100, I continue to believe that should be our goal and have charted a path to do so.

Each session, high school students from across the state are given the unique opportunity to work as pages in the legislature.  This once in a lifetime experience gives students the chance to see the inner workings of state government and make connections and friendships that will last a lifetime.  This year, my page was Alex Byrnes, of Osage, and in this week’s newsletter she shares her experience:

Hello, my name is Alex Byrnes and I am the Speaker’s Page for the 2016 Legislative Session. Here is a summary of myself and how I was granted this opportunity to work in this beautiful Capitol.

I grew up on an acreage eight miles Northwest of Osage, which is located about 20 miles from the Minnesota border. While attending Osage High School, I had the opportunity to participate in Cross Country, Track, Student Council, 4-H, National Honor Society, and Model U.N.  I will graduate from Osage on May 22.

Living in rural Iowa, the Page program is not widely known.  However, because my dad is a State Representative, he informed me about this opportunity. Having an opportunity to work in the Capitol was extra-special because my dad is retiring this year and it is also my senior year.

I have always had an interest in politics, so this was something I was really looking forward to.  In order to be a page, I had to discuss this with my high school counselor, Mrs. Dohlman, and she encouraged me to go for it. However, I did not want to graduate early, so I had to figure out my class schedule. I ended up taking five classes during the session which at times was very stressful, but I feel as though I created excellent study habits for college.

The page application was sent out around August and was due October 9.  During this time I completed the necessary requirements, which involved writing a short essay and obtaining several recommendations.  After a month of waiting, I was notified that I had gotten an interview with the Iowa House of Representatives Chief Clerk, Carmine Boal.  A week after I visited the Capitol for my interview, I was offered a job in the House.  At Page orientation in November, we had interviews for what are called Office Page positions, which include page positions in the Chief Clerk, Majority and Minority Leader, and Speaker’s Offices.  Later that day after interviewing for several positions, Speaker Linda Upmeyer called me and told me that I would be working in her office for the upcoming session.  I was ecstatic!

While working as a Speaker’s Page, I have had several day-to-day tasks.  Although, some of them aren’t extremely exciting, like getting lunch for the office and writing press releases. Another one of my duties as a Speaker’s Page is to take photos of Representatives when their constituents visit Des Moines.  When there is a big day on the hill for various groups these can add up quickly.  However, other jobs make up for it like being Speaker Upmeyer’s right hand during debate and holding the title “Guardian of the Gavel.”  Representative Paulsen hand crafted Speaker Upmeyer’s gavel so it is extremely important that I do not lose it.  On one occasion, Representative Byrnes (my dad) stole the gavel and hid it from me.  After that, I never let the gavel out of my sight.

My favorite part about working here at the Capitol is the people I’ve met.  I have made so many connections that will last a lifetime.  I have my foot in the door with many different people and I am humbled to have landed this position.  At first, I was petrified and had no idea what to do but I caught on quickly and fell in love with the process.  Speaker Upmeyer and the rest of the office staff have made this opportunity wonderful and I am going to miss them all so much next year when I’m at The University of Iowa.
My favorite memory this session was when Governor Branstad gave his Condition of the State address, and was chatting in the Speaker’s well with Speaker Upmeyer, Senate Pres. Pam Jochum, Lt. Gov. Reynolds, and myself.  Being surrounded by women, I looked up at the Governor and said “Look who is in the minority now!”  I am very blessed to have been granted this opportunity.

It’s truly been an honor getting to know Alex and all of the pages that have served the Legislature this year.  I’m confident that the future of our state is very bright with these young people leading the way.  For more information about the page program, please visit: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/DOCS/lsaReports/pageInfo/PageApplication.pdf

As always, please keep in touch.  As legislation is moving forward, feel free to send me comments, questions, or feedback that you may have regarding issues before us in the House. I can be reached at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or (515) 281-3521

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Dansette