The 2022 session of the Iowa Legislature opened Jan. 10, complete with new roles and responsibilities for Iowa Sen. Carrie Koelker, R-Dyersville.

She will now be chairing the Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee — made up of both Democrats and Republicans, both representatives and senators — which currently shapes a $48 million budget.

Between sessions, Koelker’s day job is as the executive director for Eastern Iowa Tourism. It being her wheelhouse, Koelker said she wanted to prioritize more robust revenue generation and spending.

“We’ve been 45th in the nation in terms of tourism spending for years,” she said. “Me being a tourism advocate, it won’t be fun for me to be on the floor and run this with us rated that low. So, I’m going to be looking at some revenue generators. How can we build on those programs that are working out there?”

Koelker also said she hoped to get moving on the economic development budget, usually a late-session job, earlier in this session as chair.

“We’ve posed the idea of letting these conversations go at the beginning,” she said. “We’ll get education funds the first 30 days, so it’s not a political football game and schools can work on initiating their contracts. I don’t know why we’re not doing that with some of these other programs. Hopefully, we can have some of that drafted earlier, so we’re not waiting.”