Usually I don’t like talking about myself. And usually I try to shy away from those who like to mostly talk about themselves. So I do find this a little difficult, but there is a personal story that I would like to share with you, so bear with me.
This past week, I was bestowed with the honor of being inducted into the Pioneer Lawmakers Association. This group, first established in 1886, is an alumni organization of sorts for Iowa lawmakers, as well as others who have contributed to the policy-making process. As is the tradition for legislators, an individual is inducted on their 20th anniversary of being first elected to the Iowa House or Iowa Senate. Obviously, I am not, nor have ever been, elected to the Iowa legislature, or any office for that matter (full disclosure though, I was elected to student government in high school, but holding office in a class of 52 really doesn’t quite reach a very high level of accomplishment). However, for those of us who fall into the “others” category – consisting mainly of non-elected officials like caucus staff, lobbyists and others – who have served over 20 sessions and who have contributed in one way or another to the policy-making process, a current member of the Pioneer Lawmakers Association must invite or nominate us in order to be eligible.
My first session at the Iowa Capitol was in 1996, which was the second session of the 76th General Assembly. I have 21 sessions under my belt – 24 if you include the three Special Sessions in which the governor called the Legislature back to complete its work – and this is the first opportunity of my eligibility for induction into the Pioneer Lawmakers, as a member of the Class of 2017. I guess I should be very happy that I was voted in on the first ballot!
The ceremonial day was filled with some pomp and circumstance, and reuniting with people who I have not seen in some time. There was an official membership meeting, a luncheon with a keynote speaker, and recognition of the Class of 2017. This is where I was presented with the official Pioneer Lawmakers Pledge Pin. The highlight of the day was a Joint Convention of the House and Senate in the Iowa House chambers. This is the first time I have ever been on the House floor during a live session. (Unless you are a legislator, staff, former legislator or a guest of a legislator, those of us who are deemed “non-elected officials” are not allowed on the chamber floors during a session.) I noted to myself that the view was pretty cool.
Once the ceremony concluded and the Joint Convention was dissolved, my time in the limelight was fading. However, as part of the induction, the last item of business for which I was asked to do was sign the Pioneer Lawmakers register – the same register used for the first induction ceremony back in 1886.
It was a grand event and one that I will remember for a long time. But I will mostly cherish my Pledge Pin, as it is a symbol of accomplishment that few before me have or ever will achieve.