Special Session Set for Redistricting—October 5, 2021
Today, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation to convene a special legislative session on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 for redistricting. Her press release stated, “The purpose of the special session will be to consider and enact a plan of legislative and congressional redistricting in accordance with the framework set forth in chapter 42 of the Iowa Code.”
Redistricting in Iowa happens every ten years, according to the process adopted in 1980. Iowa’s unique redistricting process is touted as the most non-partisan in the Nation
—using no political data, and taking into account other key fairness factors.
The legislature is constitutionally required to have a map approved by September 1; However, this year, due to slower release of federal census data because of COVID-19, the process has been delayed. For more in-depth information on the redistricting process click here
The non-partisan Iowa Legislative Services Agency (LSA) will draft map number one, which is expected to be released this Thursday, September 16, 2021. The Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission will convene three virtual public meetings at the end of this month
. Then, during the special session, the legislature can accept or reject the first map, and request a second map to be drawn for consideration. The legislature can accept or reject the second map. If a third map is requested, then a third must be drawn by LSA and that map can be amended by the legislature. Republicans control both chambers of the Iowa Legislature. Historically, the legislature has adopted one of the first maps, or adopted the third map without amendment.
During any redistricting year, incumbents can get thrown into the same district as new lines are drawn, having major impacts on those elected officials, who may suddenly be in competition for re-election with their long-time colleagues and friends. Keep in mind, this can affect both state and congressional level districts.
A recent Iowa House Republican newsletter
broke down Census data trends, which indicate a large number of Iowa’s rural counties have lost population, while cities over 10,000 have gained population. This will likely mean a shift in urban districts and a consolidation of rural districts.
The Iowa Supreme Court, which has the power to adopt a map if the legislature fails to, previously released a statement
indicating it would let the legislature follow its process. Since the legislature has not met its constitutional deadline, there may be legal challenges, no matter which map is ultimately adopted.
Once the legislature convenes, it is up to leadership to decide what, if any, issues in addition to redistricting might be considered. So far, leadership in both chambers have strongly stated they only wish to approve a district map; However, discussion surrounding vaccines has swirled with changing employer requirements and recent directives from the Biden Administration
. IowaBio is closely monitoring any legislative action on that topic.
Regular Session Timeline Released
The 2022 regular session timeline has been released and can be found here
Special Election District 37
A special election is being held today between Michael Bousselot (R – Ankeny) and Andrea Phillips (D- Ankeny). This seat became open when former House Representative John Landon (R- Ankeny) passed away last month, after a battle with cancer. House district 37 has been a republican suburb seat for many years. Michael Bousselot is an attorney who has worked for former Governor Terry Branstad as well as current Governor Kim Reynolds. Andrea Phillips is a mother of two who spent the majority of her career in business in the Republic of China. Over the last month, topics discussed during the candidate’s campaigns include public safety, mask mandates and COVID-19 response. Although this is a special election that will have a smaller turnout than a general election, the outcome and party turnout will be closely watched as an indicator of what topics are motivating people to vote. A special election will also be held for Representative Wes Breckenridge’s (D-Newton) seat in District 29, because he resigned to take a new job. That date has not yet been announced.