Source: WGEM

FORT MADISON, Ia. (WGEM) - Iowa Senator Joni Ernst gained national spotlight when she delivered the GOP response to Obama's State of The Union earlier this year.

Iowa's first female senator made her first stop in Lee County since being elected Friday afternoon as a part of her 99-county tour of the state.

Ernst toured Siemens plant Friday afternoon and says it was an educational experience and she realizes how important companies like Siemens are to a county that has struggled with high unemployment.

"Talked to many of them that have been here for five or more years, or course the plant started up in 2007, so that speaks really well for the opportunity that this has brought to Lee County," Ernst said.

Ernst has hit the ground running in the Senate since she started in January. One bill she introduced is "Prioritizing Veterans," which is a passionate issue for her as the first female veteran in the U.S. Senate.

"Making sure they are able to receive timely and adequate mental health services at non-VA facilities. If a veteran goes into the VA and they're told we can't serve you for another month or another two months, our veterans can seek assistance in their communities."

Ernst, a Republican, is also working with Democrats on a bill called the Campus Safety and Accountability Act in the Senate.

"It is an educational and a process very much geared towards protecting victims of sexual assault on college campuses," Ernst said.

Ernst says she'll continue to listen to Iowa residents during her time in the Senate to see what other issues are important to them.

"I've met with over 1600 Iowans so far just in my first four months so that has been a great opportunity to get to know what their challenges are," Ernst said.

Ernst says she isn't endorsing any presidential candidate yet for 2016, but hopes to work with all of them to educate them on Iowa as they campaign through the state.

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