Josiah Meier of Osage was one of 16 students from around the state who learned about politics and government first-hand by serving as a page in the Iowa House during the 2019 session.
Meier, who received his high school diploma Saturday during a graduation ceremony for home-schooled students in the area, said he realized "I love politics and I'm good at it."
Josiah's outgoing personality made him a big hit with legislators, according to his mother, Lori Meier.
"He just lit up at the Capitol building," she said "The response he had was so encouraging."
Josiah applied for the job because he wants to run for public office someday. He said getting to know legislators and observe the law-making process was a big help.
Some days at the Capitol can be long, especially toward the end of the session when the legislators want to get done so they can go home.
"I learned I can pull off a 19-hour shift, Meier said.
Pages are required to wear a blazer and a white shirt. The boys also need to wear a tie.
Meier said he was surprised that "I actually enjoy being dressed up."
Everyone on both sides of the aisle was cordial, even if they were having a bad day, according to Meier.
"It humanized both parties," he said.
High school students have to apply to become pages in the Iowa House or Senate.
Although Meier was home-schooled, he was dual-enrolled in the Osage school district for extracurricular activities such as choir, Model UN and wrestling.
Pages normally serve for the entire legislative session, which begins in January.
However, Meier was allowed to start in March so he could finish the wrestling season with the Green Devils first.
Pages have to arrange for their own housing. Fortunately, Josiah has an aunt and uncle who live in Johnston, a suburb of Des Moines, so he was able to stay with them.
Meier was a floor page, so he didn't work for any particular member of the House.
Floor pages are supervised by the sergeants of arms. They sit on a bench at the back of the floor.
Legislators have a button on their desks they can press to activate a light next to their desk number on a large board.
When the board lights up, the sergeant of arms tells one of the pages to go to the legislator's desk to see what he or she wants.
Sometimes legislators want a beverage brought to them, or need a page to bring them something they left in their car.
Meier estimates he walked seven to nine miles a day fetching things for legislators, depending how busy things were. One day when the House was in session until midnight, he walked 12 miles.
He said he enjoyed the slower days because it gave him time to talk to people and get to know them.
Floor pages also put stamps on envelopes for mass mailings and take messages to and from the floor.
Meier said pages will take notes from lobbyists or members of the public to lawmakers.
He said he was surprised to learn the legislators are sometimes more likely to leave the floor and go speak to visitors during debates, "especially if they are bored."
Sometimes members of one party will talk for hours to delay the process, he said.
Most of the time legislators already know how they are going to vote going into a floor debate because they have already debated the issue in their party caucus, according to Meier.
He said besides the legislators, no one is usually allowed into the caucus room. However, a clerk occasionally will be called in.
Clerks, who are usually college students, work for individual legislators.
The legislature has a lot of old traditions. For example, no one except lawmakers are allowed to walk down the center aisle of the House floor.
Meier said this means if the pages need to go to a legislator's desk, they have to get there by walking around the perimeter of the floor.
Some legislators aren't particular about rules like this being followed, but the sergeants of arms are, according to Meier.
Even though they can be inconvenient, these rules are all about showing respect, he said.
Meier said he would like to establish himself in the intelligence field and serve in the CIA before running for political office.
Meier officially signed up for the Iowa Air National Guard a few weeks ago. He's already started doing weekend drills with them.
In the fall he will go through basic training, followed by intelligence school before returning to Des Moines for three months of on-the-job training at the intelligence division.
After that he hopes to get full-time employment with the Air National Guard while taking online classes at Liberty University toward a bachelor's degree in government with a emphasis in national security.
Rep. Jane Bloomingdale, R-Northwood, posted a photo of her and Meier on her Facebook page during this year's legislative session.
"Josiah is at the Capitol early and stays late," she wrote. "He is respectful, friendly, quick to assist when needed, and always has smile on his face."
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