An Emmetsburg farmer who’s served in the Iowa Legislature for 22 years will serve in a unique role when lawmakers begin the 2005 session next week. Jack Kibbie was a tank commander in the Korean War, and won the Bronze Star. His next round of public service came in the ’60s when he served eight years in the Iowa House and Senate. After focusing on his farming career for the next two decades, Kibbie then returned to the statehouse in 1989 and has been a state Senator ever since. On Monday, the 75-year-old will have a new job there. “Well, I’m half a president,” Kibbie explained yesterday during a news conference, prompting laughter. “I’m co-president.” Kibbie will share the administrative duties of the Senate with republican Jeff Lamberti since there’ll be an equal number of republicans and democrats in the state Senate. The primary role for Lamberti and Kibbie, though, will be to make parliamentary decisions during Senate debate and the two will switch off, every other week, to take that duty. Kibbie says the lesson of the November election was that Iowans want lawmakers to work together, and end partisan bickering. “This is a history-making session and hopefully it will be worthy,” Kibbie says. Kibbie and Senate co-leader Mike Gronstal, a democrat from Council Bluffs, have been involved in negotiations with republican senate leaders that yielded power-sharing arrangements, such as agreeing republicans and democrats will hire an equal number of staff and get roughly equal office space.”We never got the measuring tape out and measured square footage,” Kibbie says. But Gronstal jokes that he did. Senator Lamberti, the republican President from Ankeny, will bang the gavel on Monday to convene the Senate and Gronstal will be the floor leader that day. On Tuesday, Senator Kibbie will be the Senate’s parliamentary leader, and he’ll get to gavel both the Senate and House into session for Governor Tom Vilsack’s Condition of the State message.
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