Iowa Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque, spent Wednesday on the road with a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators, all of whom are younger than 40 years old, on a tour of four renewable energy facilities.

The 209-mile tour took the co-chairs of the Iowa Future Caucus, formed during the 2019 session, from Gold Grain Energy ethanol plant in Mason City to the MOXIE Solar Energy array in North Liberty.

James said renewable energy is just one policy issue the state’s youngest lawmakers can come together on, even if it’s over a Casey’s General Store pizza for lunch.

“It is interesting hearing the different starting points between the Democratic and Republican parties,” she said. “My starting point will always be our kids. Stewarding our planet is what’s going to ensure they’re thriving throughout their lives. My colleagues across the aisle often talk about their starting points being public-private partnerships and economic development. They can agree with my starting point. I can agree with theirs. We just might have different compasses.”

Iowa Sen. Zach Nunn, R-Bondurant, said renewable energy is a great place for the new caucus to begin its work.

“The Future Caucus has a unique opportunity to work on common-sense policy decisions, despite party,” he said. “Renewable energy is clearly an area where Iowa is situated to be very successful. We have seen wind energy take off. And because it is clean energy, it helps individuals not only in our state, but all over. And it has attracted several businesses to the state that want that piece because of the low carbon footprint.”

Nunn pointed to Google and several data centers in his district which followed that path to Iowa.

The jobs these renewable energies provide also are a big selling point for all of the caucus members.

“At the ethanol plant they said their average salary was $90,000,” said Iowa Rep. Joseph Mitchell, R-Mount Pleasant. “That is a lot better than a $15 minimum wage would do.”

Looking at renewable energy and other issues with payouts farther down the road is the way Nunn believes the caucus will succeed in working together where politicians in Washington, D.C. — and even others at the statehouse — sometimes fail to.

“I think Iowa is the quintessential purple state,” he said. “You have honest actors on both sides who want to work. Lindsay and I don’t have that much difference between us. We are committed to doing what is good for our people back home. The Future Caucus are really looking for some long-term solutions and not the day-to-day politics, which we’ve all seen can get pretty combative and don’t maybe return a lot for all the energy put into them.”

James said she has been getting a lot out of the caucus since its February formation.

“These are very positive working relationships,” she said. “We have shared time together, shared meals. We agree with each other one moment, disagree with each other the next moment. But we’re committed to never leaving the table. That is what is going to move us forward. It’s almost like a family. You love each other hard and you fight hard, but you stay together.”

The Iowa Future Caucus plans to bolster its membership past the four co-chairs in the 2020 session, although the number of lawmakers who meet the age criteria are limited. Mitchell also said the next item on his to-do list is reversing brain drain from Iowa, especially the most rural areas.

Illinois Democrats call for ‘full and fair’ census

The full list of Illinois Democratic U.S. representatives and senators sent a letter this week to U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham urging him to ensure the 2020 Census count be full and fair.

They expressed concern with administrative and technological changes being made to the census in D.C. The delegation feared under-counting, as, according to a release, the state could lose $1,800 in federal funding per person not counted per year.

“Under-counting is most likely to occur among hard-to-count populations, which typically include low-income households, people of color, immigrants, rural communities, areas without broadband or internet service, undocumented individuals, the homeless, renters and children under the age of 5,” the letter read. “As such, we believe the services and outreach provided by Area Census Offices in Illinois, as well as local hiring efforts for their staff members, are crucial to the communities they assist.”

Chesney named to ‘Move Over’ task force

Illinois Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, has been appointed to a task force aimed at drivers who do not slow down and move over when approaching stopped emergency vehicles.

“Following the penalty enhancements to Scott’s Law made this spring, I am honored to be appointed ... to work on issues regarding causations of violations of Scott’s Law and ways to protect law enforcement and emergency responders,” Chesney said in a release. “We owe a great debt of gratitude to law enforcement and first responders to do everything we can, from a policy perspective, to try to keep them out of harm’s way on our roadways.”

Republicans name Hinson to list of candidates to watch

The National Republican Congressional Committee has listed Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, among the “young guns” — first-time candidates running for Congressional seats held by Democrats in 2020.

Hinson is running against incumbent freshman U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, who represents eastern Iowa in D.C. Hinson made news in July for raising $335,000 in just six weeks. She does face primary opponents in Thomas Hansen, of Decorah, and Darren White, of Bellevue.

Overpass to be dedicated in honor of fallen state trooper

Chesney and Illinois Sen. Brian Stewart, both Freeport Republicans, will help dedicate the Springfield Road U.S. 20 overpass in Stephenson County in honor of Trooper Brooke Jones-Story. She was killed in the line of duty on U.S. 20 in March.

A dedication ceremony is set for 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at the overpass just east of Freeport.

Calendar

7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, Field of Dreams Movie Site, 28995 Lansing Road, Dyersville, Iowa — Presidential primary candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will host and play in a softball game between his campaign and members of the press.

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