Adapting to the Challenges and Changes of the 2021 Legislative Session

posted on Monday, January 18, 2021

Guest blog post by Angela Davis, Government Relations Attorney, AKD Legal Consulting and IEC's Water Program Lobbyist

Iowa State Capitol DomeAs we start the 2021 Legislative Session, there are many reasons to feel that the delicate balance of legislative action this year will be more precarious. Challenges within the legislative process are difficult on the best of days. Throw in a global pandemic, whose numbers continue to rise, and civil unrest that has reached our nation's capitol and many are wondering what to expect.   

To provide some direction, leadership in the House and Senate released statehouse protocols and have encouraged everyone visiting and working inside the Capitol to wear a mask and observe social distancing. Subcommittee meetings, committee meetings, and floor debate will all be available through streaming platforms that can be accessed on the State Legislative page at

Comments on specific bills should be prepared in advance since there will be limitations on in-person participation, with first tier access reserved to legislators, aides, and Legislative Services Agency staff. Attention to safety seems to be on the top of everyone's mind, and the additional use of technology is appreciated. That being said, we may be figuring out the "bugs" as we are in the midst of important policy discussions. For some, this is a cause concern regarding transparency during a time of unprecedented reliance on technology. A meeting schedule is said to be available 24 hours in advance, and will hopefully ensure fair participation in subcommittee meetings.  

In addition to these changes, the statehouse welcomes the new President of the Senate, Jake Chapman, and new Senate Minority Leader, Zach Wahls. Iowa continues with Republican leadership in the House, Senate, and the Governor's office. With pandemic concerns and the economic impact on Iowans prevalent in everyone's mind, the Governor has outlined her approach to addressing these issues in her 2021 Condition of the State Address.  

Backbone State ParkWhile Invest in Iowa has been put on pause, the need to focus on natural resources and outdoor recreation has not diminished. Bills that bring more attention to soil health and watershed coordinators create more opportunities to educate legislators on the importance of the environmental work necessary for Iowa to thrive. While some of the changes we see this session may prove beneficial in the long run, like new efficiencies and better communication, we have to be ready to take things as they come. This session, more than ever, adaptability matters.

I am looking forward to putting that adaptability to work while collaborating with IEC's partners, members, and the water program team to advance water and land priorities. Be sure to visit IEC's newly enhanced Legislative Portal and join us virtually to advance our work together this session.

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