- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Speaker of the Iowa House said Wednesday that he will step down from that role in January and that he won’t seek re-election next year.

Kraig Paulsen, a Republican of Hiawatha, said he will relinquish his leadership position at the start of the next legislative session. He will serve the rest of his two-year term, which runs through 2016.

Paulsen has served in the House for 13 years. He was minority leader from 2008 through 2010 and has been speaker since 2011. During a news conference at the state Capitol, Paulsen said there was no “grand answer” for his departure, but that it was simply the right time to leave.

“It’s important to me that I set up the caucus and the chamber for success and I think part of that is making sure whoever my successor is has time to put together a House agenda for next year and has time to on the political side put together the political campaign map,” Paulsen said.

Paulsen, who serves as an attorney for the Cedar Rapids-based transportation company, CRST International, Inc., said he was not leaving for a new position. He said he has no plans to run for another office at this time, though he did not rule out another bid at some point.

“I cannot imagine an opportunity to serve that is more remarkable than what I am leaving,” he said. “Maybe that will present itself someday, I don’t know.”

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad issued a statement praising Paulsen, calling him “one of the most effective legislative leaders I have had the privilege of working with at the state capitol.” And Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, wished Paulsen well, saying he had always treated him “decently and fairly.”

Working with the Republican-majority House and Democratic-controlled Senate, Paulsen was a key player in a number of legislative compromises.

Earlier this year, the lawmakers found common ground on a gas tax hike. In 2013, they reached a bipartisan agreement on a property tax cut, increased education spending and a modified expansion of Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul.

Paulsen said he was proud of keeping state spending in line with revenues. He said that the drawn-out 2015 session - capped by several vetoes by Branstad - did not influence his decision.

Rep. Linda Upmeyer, a Clear Lake Republican who serves as majority leader, quickly announced she would seek the role of speaker. According to her statement, an election could be held in the near future. Others may also seek the role. Paulsen said he would support Upmeyer’s candidacy.


Follow Catherine Lucey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/catherine_lucey

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