DES MOINES — Iowa has a new drug “czar.”
He’s Steve Lukan, 33, a five-term member of the Iowa House of Representatives who resigned his District 32 seat effective Wednesday to immediately begin serving as the director of the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy.
Gov. Terry Branstad named Lukan, R-New Vienna, to replace Mark Schouten.
Last November the governor appointed Schouten to serve as the state’s director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Dale Woolery served as interim director in the Office of Drug Control Policy during the search for a new director.
“Steve Lukan has demonstrated himself as an exceptional leader in the Iowa House, and will be a great director of this important agency,” Branstad said in a statement issued by his office Wednesday.
“We have seen the harmful effects of drugs across this state, and I will look to Steve to help us stay ahead of the dangerous trends that often emerge, wreaking havoc on Iowa’s families.”
Lukan, who now resides in West Des Moines, was first elected to the House in 2002 and announced his retirement this year. He served for a time as ranking member of the justice systems budget subcommittee.
Following reapportionment last year, a new state representative in the reconfigured House District 57 in northeast Iowa will be elected in the November general election.
“My top priority will be the health, safety and well-being of Iowans,” Lukan said. “I will work to fulfill the office’s mission and collaborate with Iowans to reduce drug use and related crime.”
The Office of Drug Control Policy, established in 1990 and renamed in 2000, is designated as the agency to be a catalyst for improving the health and safety of all Iowans by promoting strategic approaches and collaboration to reduce drug use and related crimes.
The office manages about $9.4 million in federal grants for law enforcement activities and substance abuse treatment programs and makes recommendations to the Legislature concerning laws dealing with illegal drug issues, such as efforts to curb the proliferation of labs producing homemade methamphetamines.
During the recently ended legislative session, some lawmakers pushed to eliminate the drug czar position and reassign much of the duties to the state’s public health and public safety departments as a way to streamline government.
However, the split-control Legislature agreed to maintain the current office, which is funded with less than $300,000 in the current budget year.