Iowa Rep. Steve Bradley, R-Cascade, was sworn in as part of the Legislature on Monday in Des Moines, after which he voiced optimism at what that body can accomplish this year.
The opening day of the legislative session typically is one of introductions, a few speeches and the paperwork and logistics needed to prepare the House of Representatives and Senate for the months ahead. And whatever changes the 2021 session has in store for lawmakers, Monday was no different in that respect.
“We didn’t get much into specifics today,” Bradley told the Telegraph Herald during a phone call after finishing his first day. “I’m sure that will come later this week. But today, we got to know everybody, got our seat assignments. We elected the speaker of the House (Republican Pat Grassley), which was a great thing to be a part of. Otherwise, I’ve been trying to interact with as many representatives as I can. Senators, too.”
Bradley knocked off Iowa Rep. Andy McKean, D-Anamosa, in the November election to represent House District 58, which covers Jackson County, more than half of Jones County and a portion of Dubuque County near Cascade. The seat was one of seven that the Republicans picked up in 2020, further solidifying their control over the chamber.
During his opening remarks, Grassley lauded Iowa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our reserve accounts are full,” he said. “We have a healthy ending balance, and our commitments were fulfilled. For that reason, we are bouncing back quicker than other states.”
House Minority Leader Todd Pritchard, though, bemoaned Iowa’s response as “greatly inadequate” and a “failure of leadership.”
Bradley, a dentist by trade, will serve as the vice-chairman of the House Human Resources Committee — responsible for the chamber’s health policies — as well as on the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, which drafts the Iowa Department of Public Health budget.
So, he will be right in the thick of any legislative response to the medical side of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also will serve on the House Economic Growth, Natural Resources and Transportation committees.
Bradley said those committees were set to meet for the first time today.
In all of his work in Des Moines, Bradley said his overarching priority was to be a voice for small towns.
“In my district, we have a lot of small towns — small towns that need help,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we exclude the larger community, but we have to keep (small towns) in mind.”
And Bradley will have help from a trusted source. Working at his side as his clerk is his wife, Candace Bradley. That professional partnership is nothing new for the couple.
“Things don’t change, do they?” he asked rhetorically. “She was a great secretary when she worked at school, a great secretary when she helped at the practice, and she’ll be a great clerk here.”