This was a very productive week at the Capitol. The pace of debate picks up as the bills pass between chambers and committee work is completed. Much of the discussion centered around health care issues in the House, with the consideration and passage of the Health & Human Resources budget bill and the Healthy Iowa plan. We are optimistic that a path to adjournment for this session is near.
During each legislative session, we are joined by some of Iowa’s best and brightest high school students from around the state to serve as pages for the Iowa Legislature. As the House Majority Leader, I am privileged to have my own office page each year. This year I selected Alex Conover to serve as my page and have asked him to share some insight on his experience under the Golden Dome.
My name is Alex Conover and I am this year’s page for Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer. I grew up on our family farm south of Holstein, Iowa where we raise purebred Berkshire hogs and Angus cattle. I am a senior at Ridge View High School in Holstein and will graduate this spring. I’ll be attending Iowa State University next fall to major in Animal Science and minor in Political Science.
This past legislative session has been filled with wonderful people and unforgettable moments. The first day, meeting 20 new pages, learning 100 Representatives’ names & seat numbers, and meeting the Majority Leader’s and Speaker’s staff was quite intimidating. By the end of the first week I felt as if I had grown up knowing each and every one of them. One of my most memorable moments was the first day right after meeting Leader Upmeyer. She took her assistant and me into her office and practiced her speech for the opening ceremony later that day. Immediately after that I knew I was right where I needed to be.
The House pages, or “the Varsity Team” as we like to refer to ourselves, are made up of 23 juniors and seniors from all over the state. We are said to be the nervous system of the House of Representatives and have responsibilities such as to pass out legislation to the Representatives, deliver messages from all over the Capitol, and any general tasks the Representatives need done. While doing all of these jobs, we gain a unique appreciation for the process and do our best to make sure that each job is done to the best of our ability.
As the Majority Leader’s page, I aid her in keeping in touch with her constituents back in House District 54. These duties include answering phone calls from concerned voters or managing the letters of congratulations she sends back to her constituents. Helping the Leader stay in touch with her district is an important priority to her. I am responsible for sorting the mail and helping the Speaker’s page run the microphones during floor debate. I also scope out the lunch options and be sure to bring back the very best the Capitol has to offer.
While running around Des Moines, hanging out with the other pages, and going to work, I still try to stay involved in school activities. During session, I drive the 2.5 hours back to Holstein almost every weekend. I participate in Large Group and Individual Speech and was lucky enough to get an All-State nomination to both All-State festivals. I also travel back to maintain my role as President of the Ida County 4-H Youth Council and make time to attend school on Friday to finish up my senior year- all while coming to work Monday through Thursday.
This experience definitely stands out as one of the most memorable parts of my senior year. The past four months have taught me so much about our legislative process. This wonderful program has allowed me to make many connections with the men and women that work incredibly hard to better the state of Iowa. I would like to thank each and every one of them for sharing their time and wisdom with me, especially Leader Upmeyer.
It was my pleasure to have Alex with me this year. When I look back at the pages who have served over the past years, I know this experience has made a difference to their path. Some now serve as legislators, some work in the associations and nonprofit arena, many have gone on to law school- whatever they choose, this experience influenced their choice. I encourage young people to consider this experience. As always, please feel free to contact me anytime with the issues you care about at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-281-4618.