Bill Dix

Bill Dix

The man who led this year’s successful effort to elect a Republican majority in the state senate is now officially the leader who will decide what bills gets debated in the senate.

Twenty-eight of the 29 Republicans who will serve in the Iowa Senate for the next two years met this morning. They voted to make Bill Dix of Shell Rock their majority leader when the senate convenes in January.

“What we want to focus our time and attention on is what we campaigned on,” Dix said after the meeting. “…We need to do a better job of defining our priorities and making sure that we spend less and make government smaller, more efficient.”

Dix said growing the economy is a priority as well and that means tax changes are in store, but the details of the Senate Republicans’ tax plan will be decided at a later date.

“Clearly, we want to make sure that our tax code is reflective of one that will offer better opportunities for people to keep more of their hard-earned money and also to invest it in our state,” Dix said, “which creates more career opportunities.”

Dix will turn 54 at the end of this month and has been a member of the legislature for 16 years. He served a decade in the Iowa House, culminating in a stint as chairman of the committee that drafted the state budget. After four years out of the legislature, Dix returned as a member of the state senate in 2011.

“Make no mistake, our promise to voters was that we are going to make Iowa attractive to career development and more opportunities for Iowa families,” Dix said, “and making sure our tax policy reflects that is not something we will take our eye off of.”

Dix runs a diversified farm operation, raising corn and soybeans as well as cantaloupes, watermelons and pumpkins that are sold in HyVee, Fareway and Target stores in Iowa and southern Minnesota. Jack Whitver of Ankeny, a former Iowa State football player who is an attorney and small business owner, will be president of the state senate.

Dix told reporters at the statehouse that all the Republican senators played a role in this year’s campaign and he gave all the Republicans t-shirts today as a thank you for those efforts.

“We are a team…they all campaigned hard, whether they were on the ballot or not and so we’re all wearing ‘Majority Makers’ t-shirts,” Dix said.

Dix asked his fellow Republicans which committees they might like to lead and he’ll announce committee leadership assignments soon. Democrats have held the majority in the Iowa Senate since 2007. As of today, there will be 29 Republicans and one former Republican senator who’s an independent serving in the 50-member state senate next year. A special election will be held in late December to fill a vacancy created by the death of Democratic State Senator Joe Seng of Davenport.