DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation that set the start date for the special session of the Iowa Legislature for October 5 for legislative and congressional redistricting.
U.S. Census Bureau’s released 2020 data to each state on August 12.
The Census Bureau was due to deliver the data to the states by March 31, but there were delays, which the agency attributed to “COVID-19-related delays and prioritizing the delivery of the apportionment results.”
Iowa has a non-partisan redistricting process. The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) ordinarily develops a redistricting plan due by April 1. However, that deadline is extended by the number of days after February 15 that the census data is not released. When LSA releases the first redistricting plan, the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission holds three public hearings in different parts of the state. After that, the legislature can only make corrective amendments.
Suppose the Iowa Legislature approves the first plan and the governor signs (the governor can only veto for reasons that are not in conflict with redistricting standards provided in the Iowa Code). In that case, the process is over unless an application for review is filed with the Iowa Supreme Court by any qualified voter. If not, LSA will submit a second plan prepared, following the reasons the first plan was disapproved, within 35 days of the first plan being disapproved, and the process is the same except no public hearings are held.
If the legislature rejects the second plan, LSA has 35 days to submit a third plan. Then, the legislature has to vote no later than seven days after it is submitted. After that, the legislature can amend the third plan in the same manner as any other bill.
The Iowa Constitution states in Article III, Sec. 35 reads, “The General Assembly shall complete the apportionment prior to September 1 of the year so required. If the apportionment fails to become law prior to September 15 of such year, the Supreme Court shall cause the state to be apportioned into Senatorial and Representative Districts to comply with the requirements of the Constitution prior to December 31 of such year.”
On Tuesday, the Iowa Supreme Court ordered an extension to the deadline until December 1 to allow the legislature to fulfill its role in the redistricting process recognizing Iowa’s process as “the gold standard.”
Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, thanked the Iowa Supreme Court for ordering an extension.
“As I have repeatedly stated, the goal of Senate Republicans after the census is to follow by the redistricting process outlined in Iowa Code Chapter 42. I appreciate the work of Chief Justice Christensen and the Supreme Court in maintaining Iowa’s nationally recognized redistricting process,” he said.