GMG junior spends semester at Iowa House
Tama County has more than one person working in the Iowa House of Representatives this legislative session.
Last fall GMG junior Abe Dieleman applied and was accepted into the Iowa Legislative Page Program for the 2021 legislative session.
Dieleman is among a group of 13 high school juniors and seniors who have been working in the Iowa House since January through the annual work program.
“It’s been a really good experience, I’ve learned a lot more than you would just in school about things like parliamentary procedure and policymaking,” Dieleman said. “It’s been interesting to see behind the scenes and learn how much work there is to be done and how much work goes into everything that gets done in the House.”
Pages provide assistance to Representatives and House staff by assisting with the switchboard, delivering messages, running errands, and distributing bills and amendments. Pages respond to individual requests from Representatives, staff committee meetings and help the chairperson’s clerk by handing out materials needed during the meetings.
Dieleman said he first learned of the program opportunity from his grandfather and later was encouraged by Rep. Dean Fisher while attending the Iowa Caucuses to apply for the program.
He said his interest in government began in 3rd Grade when he would attend GMG school board meetings with his dad, who serves on the seven-member GMG Board of Education.
He recalls attending caucus night in 2016 and in 2020, developing an interest politics as he began high school.
While in the program during the spring semester, Dieleman spends four days a week working in Des Moines with an adjusted school schedule approved by his school counselor and principal to allow him to participate while remaining on track for high school graduation.
The pages work alongside House staff and representatives as long as the House in session. Dieleman said most days they are finished for the day around 4:30 p.m. but that a particularly controversial debate happening on the House floor might extend their hours late into the night, sometimes as late as 1 a.m.
Outside of school and the Iowa House of Representatives, Dieleman has juggled extra-curricular activities this semester, playing on the Wolverines basketball team into February and participating with FFA, National Honor Society and Boy Scouts throughout the whole year.
Although Dieleman said it’s been challenging managing a packed schedule over the past few months, he’s enjoyed getting to know other high schoolers from around the state that are interested in politics and government as well as the opportunity to be a part of the legislative process.
“One thing that’s been surprising to see is how many people have to work on one bill,” Dieleman said. “There’s people like the lobbyists, representatives, staffers, different groups, and they all kind of help to make a bill. It’s also been interesting to see just the amount of bipartisanship there is and how many different friendships are between representatives on both sides.”
Looking forward, Dieleman hopes to stay involved with politics and the state legislature and is considering applying for the page program again as a senior. After high school he hopes to attend Iowa State University to study in the fields of agriculture and politics while also applying to work as a legislative clerk in college.