History of Iowa’s Legislative Sessions

I am often asked when the Iowa legislative session starts and how long it lasts. I usually say it begins in January and goes through April or May. It isn’t that simple although it’s been more predictable in recent years than earlier in Iowa’s history.

I [Eric] began lobbying in 2007 and since then the average legislative session has lasted just shy of 120 calendar days (119.8 to be exact). The first session of a two-year assembly is supposed to last 110 days and the second year is supposed to last 100. Since 2007, we’ve averaged more a week of overtime each session.

In my sixteen sessions lobbying, the longest session was the 2011 session that lasted 174 days and finished on the last day of the fiscal year, June 30, 2011. The shortest session was the year before when, in 2010, the legislature adjourned on March 30 after 79 calendar days. The 2020 session was longer than average due to the pandemic and is an outlier.

Another factor is how the sessions end, not just when. Early in my career there was a year when the last weekend of the session started on a Friday morning and, aside from a quick run home or two to shower/change, we didn’t leave the Capitol until Sunday morning at 6:00am with the session adjourned for the year, “sine die.”

The Iowa legislative website has the exhaustive list of regular and extraordinary session dates but here are the last fifteen years’ worth. Will they get out early this year? We’ll see…

Iowa Sessions, 2007-2021

Leave a Comment