DES MOINES, Iowa – An Iowa House panel on Monday tabled a proposal that would shorten the timetable for redistricting by reducing the time the Legislative Services Agency (LSA) has to produce a new redistricting plan if the Iowa Legislature rejects their previously submitted plans.
Current law provides LSA 35 days to release a second or third plan should the Iowa Legislature reject the first or second plan. HF 2018, sponsored by State Rep. Henry Stone, R-Forest City, would reduce the time to 21 days.
LSA last fall had to work under an abbreviated timeframe due to the U.S. Census Bureau’s delay in the release of the 2020 decennial census results because of the pandemic.
Amy Campbell from the League of Women Voters expressed concern that while current technology allows LSA to produce maps in a faster amount of time, a future glitch could prove to be disruptive if the timetable is shortened.
“We think that the longer time frame gives more opportunity for people to view the maps and have input into that with their lawmakers,” she said.
“As a freshman legislator, and just kind of coming in new and looking at the process, I just felt that it is just time to modernize and move it forward,” Stone said, discussing the bill with the panel that consisted of State Reps. Jacob Bossman, R-Sioux City, Rob Bacon, R-Slater, and Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, pointing out LSA released the second map in 20 days after the first map was rejected.
“I felt that, well, we could shorten the timeframe to alleviate any problems in the future from 35 to 21. If they were able to get into us at 20, then 21 should be a good compromise,” Stone added.
Wolfe said she wanted to wait to decide on the bill after hearing from LSA about whether or not a 21-day timetable is feasible.
“Yeah, they got it to us in 20 days, but I imagine, I don’t know that was easy for them. If they had no problems with that or if that was a crunch or if there was something special about these maps that allowed them to do it sooner than normal,” she said.
Bacon said that redistricting in 2010 went smoothly.
“To be honest with you, I don’t see the need to shorten it. But I would like to see on the second map if need be, maybe some public input on that,” he said. “Even the third map, a little public input if we could have that.”
“Now, if you watched the public input, on the first one, there were five or six people who talked, and they just liked our process. They didn’t say a thing about the map. But they still need, I still think people need to have input on the second and third map if necessary,” Bacon added.
Bossman pointed out that one of the reasons LSA produced the second map last fall in 20 days was because they didn’t have the public input period of the three public meetings with the board of review.
“So if we were going to talk about extending that, maybe they would really need a little bit more time,” he stated.
“It sounds like we’ll hold on it and get some more information, especially since it sounds like there’s two members that did have some apprehensions about it, but appreciate the conversation and I think we’ll have some other bills where we can continue to have this conversation going forward,” Bossman said ending the meeting.