DES MOINES — The most important numbers representing Iowa’s 87th General Assembly, which meets today for the first time, are 29 and 20.
Those are the respective numbers of Republicans and Democrats in the 50-member Iowa Senate, representing a change in political party control of the chamber for the first time since 2011 and a new power structure at the Iowa Capitol: After the Nov. 8 election, Republicans now control the state’s law-making agenda with a GOP governor and majorities in both the Iowa House and Senate.
But there are many other numbers that give us a glimpse into the makeup of the Iowa Legislature and its 149 members. (For now. A 150th will be added with a special election on Jan. 31 to fill a vacant House seat in Davenport.)
Take 14, for example: There are 14 first-time members of both the Senate and House who will be sworn in this week.
Of course, that number likely will increase to 15 in the House when the special election determines a winner.
Here are more numbers that describe the makeup of Iowa’s 87th General Assembly:
The number of independent members. Sen. David Johnson of Ocheyedan withdrew from the Republican Party in protest of then-presidential candidate and now President-elect Donald Trump. Johnson was in the middle of his fourth four-year term and thus was not on the ballot for re-election in November.
The age, as of the 2017 session’s first day, of the Legislature’s youngest member, Rep. Skyler Wheeler, a Republican from Orange City. The youngest Senate member is 32-year-old Jake Chapman of Adel.
The age, as of the 2017 session’s first day, of the Legislature’s oldest member, Rep. Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield. The oldest Senate member is 83-year-old Wally Horn of Cedar Rapids.
The respective average age of members of the Iowa Senate and House.
The number of grandparents in the Iowa Legislature, roughly a third of all members.
The number of women in the Iowa Senate, five of whom are Democrats. Sen. Amy Sinclair of Allerton is the only Republican woman in the Senate. The group 50-50 in 2020, which is working to have equal gender representation in the Iowa Legislature by 2020, has a lot of work to do in the next two elections: Including the House, women make up just 22 percent of the Legislature.
Minority members in the Senate. There are just five minority members in the House, meaning minorities comprise 13 percent of Iowa’s population, according to Census figures, but just 3 percent of its law-making body. All five minority members of the Legislature are black, and all are Democrats.
The number of farmers in the Legislature. The most-represented professional background is business/professional, with 66 members, or 44 percent. In both chambers, the top four professions are business/professional, farmer, retired and educator.
The number of members with college degrees. That’s 84 percent of all members.
The number of members who were not born in Iowa. The members born outside Iowa’s borders hail from 13 different states. Five were born in Minnesota and four each in Illinois and Missouri. Two were born in California, Sen. Mark Chelgren and Rep. Timi Brown-Powers; one in Wyoming, Rep. Ralph Watts, and one in New Jersey, Rep. Helen Miller.
(John McGlothlen contributed to this report.)