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Crops, calves, kids and careers await lawmakers at home

DES MOINES — The 2019 Iowa legislative session will likely end this weekend and many lawmakers are farmers, itching to get out of Des Moines and into their fields. Senator Tom Costello of Imogene said the soil is warm enough for planting in southwest Iowa.

“I’ve got about 250 acres of soybeans I need to get planted sometime here,” Costello said.

Representative Ross Paustian of Walcott farms 1,500 acres of cropland with his son.

“Hasn’t been dry enough to plant and…it was too windy to spray, so we’re not getting anything done,” Paustian said, “so I hope to be home — Saturday?”

Senator Annette Sweeney said it’s calving season on her farm near Alden.

“It’s always exciting every time you see a new baby calf,” Sweeney said. “During the really bad and cold weather, we started calving then, so it’ll be great to go home and see those calves on green pastures and I can’t wait.”

Representative Lindsey James said as a first-term legislator, she’d love to stay at the capitol and keep working on issues, but she’s also anxious to get back to Dubuque.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing my kids and my husband. I have a five-year-old and an eight-year-old and I never thought I would say this, but I’m actually looking forward to cleaning my house,” James said, with a laugh. “It’s quite chaotic right now.”

Representative Tracey Ehlert has a host of jobs waiting on Monday.

“I teach in the Cedar Rapids Community School District so with teacher shortages and stuff, they really need me back. I also run a business that I need to get back to and I teach at Kirkwood, too, so I’m really busy,” she said, laughing.

Representative Kristin Sunde of West Des Moines will return to her other full-time job, “which is working with my husband, who is a financial adviser, so he’s been sort of limping along the last few months at the business without me, so we’re eager to get back at it.”

Representative Phyllis Thede of Davenport missed her husband’s retirement party this past week to fulfill her obligations as a legislator, but Thede said she must get home soon because her husband is scheduled for surgery on Monday.

“He’s going to have back surgery, very serious surgery and so I really need to be home,” Thede said. “It’s going to be about a five-hour surgery.”

After a nearly 19-hour day at the capitol on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow of Clive senses his colleagues are ready for the 2019 session to end.

“Whether they’re farmers or whatever else they do, they’ve got lives outside of this place that they’re anxious to get back to,” Hagenow said.

Representative Holly Brink of Oskaloosa, another first-term legislator, is an insurance agent.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time up here, but I’m excited — I have three children at home…so I’m excited to get back to that,” Brink says. “I’m excited to get back to my constituents, the things we’ve passed up here, the ways we can help back home, hear feedback and work on ideas for next year.”

The 2020 legislative session will begin 262 days from now, on Monday, January 13.

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