Retirement nears, Segebart reflects on senate career


Retirement nears, Segebart reflects on senate career

By ELIJAH DECIOUS Pilot-Tribune Staff

After nearly 24 years of public service, State Senator Mark Segebart (R - Vail) has learned one thing: what he really wants to happen and what happens are two different things.

“It’s not about me, it’s about what the people need,” he said.

After 16 years as a county supervisor and several terms in the Iowa Legislature, he has decided to retire from public service, leaving while he says the government is in good hands.

In his seventh year as a senator, he says the protocol and nomenclature has become secnd nature and unscripted to him.

“After you’ve listened to the same spiel long enough, it becomes natural to you,” Segebart told the Pilot-Tribune. And that, he implied, may be a sign it’s time to retire—perhaps cogent advice for any public servant.

Always with wit, he’d like to be remembered for throwing out the script and sticking to the real protocol: the stories and humor that make the sessions bearable.

“I’m probably going to be remembered for this funny little stories I told,” he said. “When some people talk, it gets quiet in the chamber so everyone can listen. That would be my best legacy, I hope.”

The long-time farmer is proud of what he has helped the party accomplish with pro-life legislation, tax reductions and the “bottle bill.”

His proudest accomplishment, the “heartbeat bill,” ran through his Human Resources Committee, giving him the opportunity as the chairman to let it run on the floor.

Though the Supreme Court struck it down shortly after, he takes pride in his principals. “For me to be able to do that, I’m pretty proud of that,” he said, calling the opportunity too important to let pass.

Even with the setback, he anticipates enough momentum in the Iowa legislature to pass other anti-abortion measures in the future, perhaps even a constitutional amendment that would explicitly deny the right to an abortion.

“We’re never going to give up on that issue,” he said.

But his pride also knows when to admit that things could have been handled better.

One of those regrets lies in how the privatization of Medicaid affected rural hospitals and nursing homes, with managed care orbs still requiring “a lot of oversight.”

“I don’t think it’s done right by (the nursing homes),” he said. “It could’ve been smoother.”

That wasn’t his first big run-in with public health care. The first thing Segebart had to do as a senator was recommend a No vote on expanding Medicaid in Iowa.

“I thought, wowzers, I’m just a farmer from western Iowa, an now I’m recommending a no vote on expanding Medicaid, which was something I didn’t know anything about before that session,” he recalled of that moment, with his heart in his throat from the excitement.

Excitement as a state legislature, for him, has two tell-tale signs: “you’re either scared to death or come off looking mad.”

Perhaps the angry faces are a contributing factor to the increased polarization in politics today, he joked, lamenting the days where Republicans and Democrats could just be friends despite disagreement.

“Legislators were legislators, they got along,” Segebart said of days gone by. “There are people that you can’t sit down and talk to anymore. … There’s a lot of rancor that didn’t used to be there.”

Subcommittees remain one of the few good places left where bipartisan initiatives can be fostered, he said, saying he particularly enjoyed working with senior Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D - Ames).

Considering himself a center-aisle Republican, Segebart says the golden rule shaped his approach to relationships across the aisle.

As he enters his golden years, he’s trading in his 24/7, unrelenting job for time with the grandkids in Wisconsin, where a different kind of excitement, no doubt, will run on the house floor.


Mark Segebart Legislative News Iowa Legislator