The Iowa Future Caucus, a bipartisan, bicameral group of four state legislators, toured four renewable energy facilities this week in hopes of getting a more intimate look at Iowa's own production.
On Tuesday, state legislators embarked on an all-day tour of renewable energy facilities in Iowa. During their visit to Colo, they toured the Story Winds facility and got a snapshot of Iowa’s wind energy industry. The group of legislators are a part of Future Iowa Caucus, a bipartisan group of state legislators age 40 and younger, included Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque; Rep. Joe Mitchell, R-Mount Pleasant; and Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville.
If there's a bridge for partisan divides, at least in the state of Iowa, it runs through renewable fuel sources. Or so that's the thinking of the Future Iowa Caucus, a bipartisan group of state legislators age 40 and younger who swung through Mason City as part of a broader tour to learn more about energy "success stories" in the area.
A bipartisan group of state lawmakers toured two renewable fuel plants in Mason City. They want to better understand how to help this industry thrive and better fuel Iowa's economy. Four of the group were part of the Iowa Future Caucus. They are a caucus of lawmakers under 40-years-old who want to work together, regardless of party affiliation, to address issues of the future.
In the next general election, millennials are expected to represent 27 percent of eligible voters, the second-largest group behind baby boomers, according to the Pew Research Center. Despite those numbers, however, my age group is underrepresented in elected office. One national group aims to increase young people’s influence in public policy, and it’s growing its footprint in Iowa.
DES MOINES — Senators Zach Nunn (R-15) and Zach Wahls (D-37) and Representatives Lindsay James (D-99) and Joe Mitchell (R-84) announced the creation of the Iowa Future Caucus, a brand-new caucus comprised of legislators age 40 and under.
The announcement is part of a nation-wide movement in statehouses across the country where Millennial legislators are seeking to find common ground in an era of hyper-partisanship. With the launch, Iowa becomes the 28th state to join Millennial Action Project’s national State Future Caucus Network.
Iowa Future Caucus will be part of the Millennial Action Project’s national effort to support young elected officials as they work to break through partisan gridlock and reestablish political cooperation.
“When young legislators put party lines aside and come together to create bipartisan solutions to major issues, the possibilities are endless. It is amazing to see the State Future Caucus Network continue to grow across the nation,” said Steven Olikara, founder and president of Millennial Action Project. “Thank you to Senators Nunn and Wahls and Representatives Mitchell and James for leading this movement in Iowa.”
While there has been a great deal of attention directed at dysfunction and gridlock in government, there is a counter-movement underway — led by Millennials — that seeks to disrupt the status quo in government. Millennial Action Project hopes that as additional younger state legislators course a path of bipartisanship and cooperation, they will be able to bring this perspective to Washington. Currently, 15 Millennial members of Congress began their legislative careers in state houses.
Nunn said he was honored to serve as co-chair.
“As we look toward the future, we need to ensure an ongoing bipartisan dialogue to better address the issues facing young Iowans, generational Iowans, and the future of Iowa,” he said. “The opportunity to collaborate on issues ranging from quality of life, first-time homeownership, broadband expansion, educational investment and career readiness will ensure Iowa is delivering world-class opportunities for every community in the Hawkeye State.”
Mitchell said collaboration across party lines is crucial to ensuring common ground is found on issues facing Millennials.
“It is an honor to co-chair the Iowa Future Caucus with Sens. Nunn and Wahls and Rep. James,” he said.
, “and I look forward to fostering bipartisan dialogue among young legislators.”
Young leaders need to encourage others to become involved in the democratic process, James said.
“We need to work together,” he said, “across party lines, on issues that impact the lives of young Iowans in a positive way.”
Some of Iowa's youngest state lawmakers have made a plan to break through partisan gridlock and foster cooperation between Democrats and Republicans. On this News Buzz edition of River to River, host Emily Woodbury talks with two members of the Iowa Future Caucus, Senator Zack Wahls and Representative Joe Mitchell, about their priorities at the capitol and why they feel they are well equipped to tackle the partisan divide.
DES MOINES — Iowa’s younger lawmakers are forming a millennial caucus to work across party lines to break partisan gridlock and address issues important to their generation today and in the future.
“We’re really committed to trying to figure out what are the issues that aren’t yet being talked about, that aren’t yet partisan, and how we make progress on those issues,” freshman Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, the youngest member of the Senate at age 27, said during the launch of the Iowa Future Caucus at the Capitol on Wednesday. “For us, these are not just issues that are going to be off in the future. 2050, for us, is not really that far away.”
He was joined by his three co-chairs Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque, Rep. Joe Mitchell, R-Mount Pleasant, and Sen. Zack Nunn, R-Bondurant, as well as Sen. Zach Whiting, R-Spirit Lake. James, Mitchell and Whiting are freshmen legislators.
The Iowa Future Caucus is part of the Millennial Action Project, a nonpartisan 503c organization trying to launch a movement of young legislators who believe in transcending partisanship. Iowa is the 28th state to join the project’s State Future Caucus network, a bipartisan group of legislators 40 and younger.
The average age of Iowa legislators is 54.8, with ages ranging from 21 to 78. The caucus members said there are six senators and about a dozen representatives under 40.
Mitchell joked that at 21 he’s really Gen-Z rather than a millennial but said he is happy to be a part of the Future Caucus.
“This is one of the biggest things I’ve thought about in my time at the Capitol,” said Mitchell, who worked four years at the Statehouse before being elected in 2018. It seemed that working with the “other side” was frowned upon, he said.
“That’s wrong,” Mitchell said. “The way we get back to making this country what it was supposed to be is if we can get along, if we can come together and have discourse with each other. This is a great way for people to be able to come together. I can call Zach and Lindsay my friends and they’re Democrats. That’s OK.”
The millennial generation generally refers to people born from 1981 to 1996, and Generation Z to those born from 1997 onward, according to the Pew Research Center.
“In order to find common ground we have to ascend to higher ground,” said James, 38, who added that there are too many barriers to legislators working together.
Nunn, 39, the oldest member of the caucus, noted that 88 percent of bills passed by the Legislature last year had bipartisan support.
“We’re not treading new ground, but trying to grow where there already is fertile ground,” he said.
The Iowa co-chairs said growing Iowa’s population and reversing brain drain are priorities for them.