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Scott, Clinton County lawmakers named to committee leadership

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Iowa Republican leaders rolled out committee leadership assignments this week, and a local lawmaker will chair one new committee.

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Cournoyer

Sen. Chris Cournoyer, a Republican from LeClaire, will chair the new Technology Committee. Cournoyer said she expected the committee to handle bills on cyber security, broadband, personal data and STEM education.

She said she had run some technology-related bills through state government or transportation committees, but with rapid advances in technology, she said, Republican leadership picked her to chair a new committee.

“As policymakers, we need to be able to set some guidelines on how technology is used within our state,” Cournoyer said. “But we don’t want to stifle innovation of our businesses and our technology sector. We also want to make sure that we’re protecting the data and the privacy and the rights of our citizens.”

Cournoyer is a web designer and has a degree in computer science. In 2020, she introduced a bill that would’ve prohibited local governments, including schools, cities, counties and townships, from paying ransom to cyber attackers to get their data back.

The bill, SF 2080, did not pass, but Cournoyer hopes to renew conversations around bolstering local governments’ cyber security.

“Part of that bill was banning use of taxpayer dollars to pay off ransomware because you really have no idea where that money is going and how it’s being used,” Cournoyer said. “I mean, it could be going to terrorist organizations. How horrifying would that be if you found out money that you paid out was used for malicious reasons?”

Recently, the Davenport Community School District was hit by a ransomware attack that may have compromised thousands of people’s personal data. In that case, district officials declined to pay the ransom.

Gary Mohr

Mohr 

In the House, Rep. Gary Mohr, R-Bettendorf, will keep his position as chair of the powerful budget-writing Appropriations Committee.

Iowa state Rep. Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt

Mommsen

Norlin Mommsen, R-DeWitt, will chair the agriculture and natural resources appropriations subcommittee, charged with composing the state’s budget on agriculture and natural resources. Mommsen owns and operates a farm near DeWitt.

Mike Vondran

Vondran 

Newcomer Mike Vondran, who defeated incumbent Phyllis Thede to win election to the Iowa House in November, was named vice chair of the Public Safety Committee.

Vondran said during listening sessions he held during the campaign, voters told him a top concern was personal safety, and he hoped to advocate for and support the state’s law enforcement agencies in his role on the committee. Vondran said he planned to hold meetings with municipalities to gauge their needs as he starts as a freshman lawmaker.

Vondran is the founder and CEO of TAG Communications and currently serves as a spokesperson for the Davenport School District.

In Clinton County, Tom Determann, a Republican from Clinton who is also set to be sworn in for his first term in January, will be vice chair of the Transportation Committee.

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Bettendorf, East Moline, and Silvis Reporter

Sarah is the Davenport, Scott County, and Iowa politics reporter for the Quad-City Times/Dispatch-Argus. A DeWitt native, she graduated from the University of Iowa in 2021 and was editor of the student-run newspaper The Daily Iowan.

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Democrat Craig Cooper is just six votes ahead of Republican Luana Stoltenberg for the House District 81 seat, which covers the northwest quadrant of Davenport, after an administrative recount concluded on Friday. The results are contrary to what was announced after election night.

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