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'Littlest lawmaker' now heading to daycare

Republican from Sioux Rapids began bringing her daughter to the statehouse just a few weeks after giving birth.

Posted: Apr 1, 2018 9:17 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa lawmaker has closed an unusual chapter in her work life: Bringing along her newborn baby to the state Capitol.

Rep. Megan Jones, a Republican from the northwest Iowa city of Sioux Rapids, started bringing her daughter, Alma, to the Des Moines statehouse just a few weeks after giving birth on Jan. 24.

Alma was often spotted snoozing on her mother or observing legislative action from the vantage point of a portable bassinet in the Iowa House of Representatives. Jones announced last week that Alma is now headed to her next adventure: day care.

"It's very emotional because she's moving on," Jones said as she left the Capitol on Thursday while holding a car seat with Alma inside. "The support from my colleagues has really been wonderful."

Jones, 31, said her decision to bring Alma to work was driven in part by necessity. Her husband is a farmer with an early morning schedule, and Alma wasn't initially old enough for day care. Jones wanted to represent her constituents during Iowa's relatively short legislative session, which runs from January until about April.

"I knew I wanted to be here," she said.

Experts say as more women run for state and federal office, expectations will shift on how politicians should balance their family lives. In Iowa, more than 95 women are running this year for the Legislature, Congress and statewide office like governor, a new record.

Motherhood in politics still has some thorns. U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, made headlines earlier this year when she announced she's pregnant. As the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office, Duckworth said she'd work to change rules that now prohibit her from bringing a baby onto to the chamber floor.

In Wisconsin, the Eau Claire City Council banned children from their meeting platform last year after a councilwoman said she wanted to breastfeed her baby there during sessions.

Other women are turning that narrative around. A Democratic candidate for Wisconsin governor posted an online campaign video last month showing her breastfeeding her infant daughter. In Maryland, another Democratic gubernatorial candidate also released a similar campaign ad.

Elizabeth Brown, a Democratic councilwoman in Columbus, Ohio, was seven months pregnant when she decided to run for office in 2015. She's now pregnant with her second child and plans to take 12 weeks of maternity leave, though she'll still attend Council voting sessions. Brown, who has pushed for paid family leave, said local governments must be more accommodating to women.

"The more that we encourage women in all stages of life to feel it's within reach to run for office and serve in office, I think the more women will actually do that," she said.

For Jones, it meant sorting out logistics. She drove in Mondays with Alma and stayed in a Des Moines suburb during the week. The pair would return on Thursdays to their family, which includes Jones' 2-year-old son. As assistant majority leader for the chamber, Jones had access to a private office to nurse and always carried a bottle of milk in case Alma got fussy during legislative meetings.

Jones said working mothers have similar challenges daily. But she added: "If we inspire people to run for office, that's great."

House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, the top Republican in the Iowa House, said Jones reached out last year about her pregnancy and presented a game plan for how she would work while bringing her baby to the Capitol. Upmeyer said legislative leaders saw no reason not to be accommodating. Upmeyer, who became the first woman elected speaker in 2015, noted she raised her children before running for the state Legislature.

"When I was in Megan's stage of life, that would not have been something I would have considered an option," she said. "And clearly that's changed, and I'm glad that's changed."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 26980

Reported Deaths: 1159
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin9099657
Ramsey3351149
Stearns205614
Nobles15775
Anoka152779
Dakota144664
Washington70035
Olmsted68911
Rice5243
Kandiyohi5141
Scott4712
Clay44930
Mower4462
Wright3492
Todd3441
Sherburne2492
Carver2402
Benton1853
Steele1700
Freeborn1590
Blue Earth1490
Martin1355
St. Louis11914
Lyon1012
Unassigned9611
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Nicollet8811
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Winona8115
Crow Wing815
Watonwan790
Carlton750
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Itasca5610
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Murray410
McLeod410
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Rock230
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Sibley170
Brown172
Fillmore171
Norman150
Pipestone130
Kanabec121
Aitkin120
Marshall120
Cass112
Big Stone110
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Redwood70
Yellow Medicine70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Red Lake40
Traverse40
Grant40
Clearwater30
Houston30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 21114

Reported Deaths: 593
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4614140
Woodbury286137
Black Hawk178849
Buena Vista10672
Linn97879
Dallas95226
Marshall91418
Wapello63615
Johnson6198
Muscatine56741
Crawford5512
Tama41129
Scott38510
Dubuque35921
Louisa35011
Pottawattamie31910
Sioux3060
Jasper26917
Wright2210
Washington1968
Warren1671
Plymouth1522
Story1311
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9913
Poweshiek928
Hamilton760
Webster741
Henry732
Boone720
Bremer716
Clarke690
Des Moines681
Taylor660
Clinton651
Guthrie553
Cedar501
Benton431
Cherokee410
Monroe415
Jones370
Shelby370
Osceola360
Jefferson360
Marion350
Dickinson350
Buchanan341
Iowa340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Madison292
Lee290
Sac280
Davis280
Emmet270
Fayette270
Clay270
Monona260
Harrison260
Hardin240
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Lucas222
Mills200
Grundy200
Franklin200
Humboldt201
Pocahontas200
Delaware191
Floyd191
Hancock180
Appanoose173
Butler161
Kossuth160
Carroll151
Ida150
Greene150
Keokuk140
Jackson140
Page140
Audubon131
Cass130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Winnebago110
Calhoun100
Union100
Van Buren90
Adair90
Montgomery92
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Unassigned20
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