The speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives announced Monday she will step down from the top position in the chamber and not seek re-election in 2020.
Rep. Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake, said she was thinking about stepping down throughout the summer. Then her 14-year-old grandson pointed out she hadn’t traveled to Washington state to see him play soccer.
“I just decided it was time to spend more time with my family and maybe be a little better grandma than I was able to be with all the other things going on,” Upmeyer said.
Upmeyer was the first woman in Iowa history chosen to lead the state House of Representatives in 2015.
“It’s been a huge privilege and honor to do the job, whether you’re male or female, but I’m particularly touched and privileged that I got to be the first woman to do it,” Upmeyer said. “So that was a big honor. And I don’t take that lightly, and it’ll be something that I always remember.”
Upmeyer led the House through three legislative sessions in which Republicans had full control of the Iowa Capitol.
“I think we’ve done some really historic things, made some big, bold changes,” Upmeyer said, highlighting income tax changes and workforce initiatives recently passed by the legislature.
Before that, Upmeyer was a nurse practitioner and was first elected to the House in 2002. Her father also served as House Speaker in the 1980s.
House Republicans will likely select a new speaker within the next two weeks. Upmeyer declined to endorse a successor.
Upmeyer will officially remain the speaker until lawmakers return to Des Moines in January and vote for the new speaker.
Upmeyer said she plans to serve out the rest of her term through 2020 and help get Republicans elected next year.
Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, the top Republican in that chamber, said in a statement it was an honor to serve alongside Upmeyer.
“It has been a historic period of policy achievement and attaining those goals does not happen without strong, effective leadership from the speaker,” Whitver said.