SIOUX CENTER—Being an educator for more than 20 years, Jeff Taylor is becoming the student for his new role as District 2 state senator.
Taylor, who lives in Sioux Center, ran unopposed as a Republican for the spot last year after Randy Feenstra left that spot to successfully run to represent Iowa Congressional District 4.
The Iowa legislative session began on Monday, but there was a lot of prep work for the Dordt University political science professor to do. He attended orientation for new senators a few weeks ago, which allowed him to meet with fellow Republican senators.
“Sen. Jason Schultz, I talked with him on Monday, and I asked him to walk me through it, like how often do committees meet,” Taylor said. “It’s basically an A and B schedule where half the committees meet on these days and the other half on these days.
“For the first month or month and a half, very little is done in the chamber itself where everyone is together, other than just the opening prayer and some announcements. The bills have to go through the committee process, the subcommittees and the full committees to reach the floor and leadership decides what gets put on the agenda to debate and vote on.”
He’s already been appointed to the education, labor, natural resources and judiciary committees.
Having taught in higher education for more than 20 years, Taylor is particularly excited for his work on the education committee. Through his work there, he hopes to advocate for diverse learning options for students, supporting public and private education as well as home schooling.
Taylor has also learned how quick lobbyists are to reach out to new politicians.
“I’ve constantly been getting letters, e-mails, phone calls from people who want to talk to me,” he said. “Once the election is over and they know you’re going to be in there, everybody wants your ear and to introduce themselves and tell you what their plans are and what they need.
“That took me by surprise, how many groups there are and groups I never would have thought existed in the state that do exist, very narrow, niche groups. But everybody wants something from the government.”
He’s going into office committed to conservative social and fiscal values and a vision for small government.
As part of that, Taylor looks forward to promoting pro-life legislation to protect the unborn, promoting quality education and protecting the powers of state government from federal overreach.
One issue that will be up for discussion in the new legislative session is what to do with the state’s budget surplus, a financial position the state can take pride in.
“The Democrats from what I hear are inclined to spend a lot of that, dip into that,” Taylor said. “The Republicans are going to be hesitant to go on a spending spree right now. We’re happy we have that money and that the money was handled responsibly, and we don’t think it would be responsible to go and blow that surplus.”
Election integrity will also likely be discussed.
“We’re for the most part happy with how our state has conducted our elections,” Taylor said, “but we want to make sure that what happened in Pennsylvania and is apparently still happening in Georgia and some other places doesn’t happen here, that we have rules in place and they are uniformly enforced, that the ballots are in by Election Day.”
Taylor is continuing to teach at Dordt during the session, but his teaching load has been reduced. This spring, he’s teaching one class rather than his usual four. In the future, this balance might change as he becomes more accustomed to his political work.
“I’ll still teach most of the time and my teaching job is still my No. 1 priority,” Taylor said. “If I had felt I had to give up my Dordt job to become a senator, I wouldn’t have run then. I love being a teacher and a researcher and part of the Dordt community.”