A western Iowa lawmaker who’s been absent from the state senate for a month is back at the capitol today (Wednesday). Senator Hubert Houser, a Republican from Carson, met with the secretary of the senate this morning (Wednesday) to ask that he not be paid for four weeks’ worth of the daily expense money legislators receive. “I asked him about past practices and he said this is probably the first time this has ever been done,” Houser says. “There’s been absences before, but they’ve never bothered to ask for reimbursement.”
Houser, who is 71 years old, does not intend to seek reelection this November after 22 years of service in the Iowa House and Senate. Houser says he was surprised by the controversy sparked by his absence. “The way I look at it, having been around here for a long time, that I was only on standing committees and that part was pretty well done when I left,” Houser says. “And I’m in the minority and I’m retiring and I’m a lame duck and, you know, there wasn’t much for me to do here at all, really.”
Republicans hold 24 seats in the senate compared to the 26 Democrats hold, meaning Democrats get to control the senate’s debate agenda. Houser says he’s been spending time expanding his farm operation, building new livestock facilities for his 34-year-old granddaughter to run. Houser says he notified the Republican leaders in the Senate that he needed to be home for the construction. “And so they knew and they said, ‘Will you come in if we need you for votes?’ And I said: ‘Sure,’” Houser says.
Houser says he’s not sure there will be any votes in the Senate today (Wednesday), but he was on the senate floor early this morning and plans to be in the senate every day until the 2014 session adjourns, perhaps sometime this month according to legislative leaders. Houser says he’s spent the past year finding other legislators who will champion key issues he’s handled over the past two decades and Houser says he’s found members of the Iowa House who will take up the cause for the Loess Hills and for the Glenwood Resource Center.