On The "Hot Seat" In The Iowa Legislature

posted by Jeff Angelo -

I'll be broadcasting LIVE from the Iowa Capitol on opening day this coming Monday (January 8) and Tuesday (January 9).  Engineer John Sellers and I headed to the Capitol to test out the equipment and prepare for the interviews and commentary that you'll hear next week.

Upon hearing that we were leaving, Van Harden of WHO asked me, "I've always wondered...do you get assigned your seat in the chamber or do you get to select it?"

Here's a little known opening day ritual in the Iowa Legislature -  which always convenes every year on the second Monday of the month.

Yes -  you do get to select your seat.  But your name is put on a list according to seniority.  So the longest serving legislators pick first and the new legislators pick last.

And where do the veteran legislators want to sit?  In the back.  The VERY back.  There are multiple reasons:  1)  More room in the back -  your desk isn't surrounded by other desks and people; 2)  You are facing the entire chamber when you speak (no one is behind you)  3)  Being in the very back conveys status. 

So a new legislator sits in the very front.  Over the course of a legislator's career, he or she moves -  ever so slowly -  back.  If your district is gracious enough to send you back multiple times -  you will eventually hit the back row. 

Yes, I had the privilege of ending my legislative career in the back row.  For a "big and tall" guy, it was the best of times.