Iowa senator to lead national legislative group

Mike Gronstal says governing should be bipartisan, avoid gridlock

Iowa State Senator Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs makes an impromptu speech to delegates at the Iowa Democratic Party's
Iowa State Senator Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs makes an impromptu speech to delegates at the Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention at the Iowa Events Center-Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines on Saturday, June 18, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, was elected president of the National Conference of State Legislatures during the group’s annual meeting in Chicago this week.

In the unpaid position, Gronstal, 66, is to lead the bipartisan organization that serves the nation’s 7,383 state lawmakers and more than 20,000 legislative staff members. The leadership alternates between Republicans and Democrats. The president oversees and presides over the executive committee, which is the NCSL’s governing body.

Gronstal said his commitment to bipartisan governing led last year to a session in which gridlock noticeably was absent.

“There are so many issues that transcend across party lines and NCSL provides that very opportunity to discuss solving some of those pressing issues impacting each of our states,” Gronstal said.

Gronstal has represented the Council Bluffs and Carter Lake region in western Iowa for more than 30 years, two in the House and 31 in the Senate. He has served as Senate president, minority leader, majority whip and assistant majority leader. During the Senate’s historic tie in 2005-2006, he was elected a co-leader.

Gronstal has been a social worker, shipping clerk and stay-at-home dad. He has said his priorities include addressing Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers, improving teacher pay and making community college even more affordable and has taken particular interest in the insurance and utilities industries.

Gronstal is a graduate of Antioch College in Ohio. He and his wife, Connie, have two grown daughters.

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