WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Iowa Legislature released draft proposals for the state’s new legislative and congressional maps this morning. Under Iowa’s redistricting process, which is unique among the states, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency is responsible for drafting maps. It is required to adhere to strict criteria, including geographical compactness, and is not permitted to consider political data. Iowa has seen some of the most competitive U.S. House elections in recent years, with two seats flipping in both 2018 and 2020.
Next week, the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission (TRAC) will solicit public comments on the proposed redistricting plan at three virtual public hearings. Members of the public will be able to submit comments online or sign up for one of the hearings via TRAC’s website. The state Legislature will reconvene on Oct. 5 for a special session to consider the proposals. Under Iowa law, lawmakers do not have the ability to amend the maps — they may only vote to approve or reject them. If the Legislature rejects the proposals, the agency has 35 days to draft a new redistricting plan that the Legislature can again vote to either reject or accept. If the maps are rejected a second time, the agency will draft a third set of proposals that lawmakers will be able to amend. Due to delays in the census, the Iowa Supreme Court has extended the deadline for final approval from Sept. 15 to Dec. 1.
Upon release of the maps, Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley (R) announced that Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, would carefully review the proposal. “Our nonpartisan redistricting process in Iowa is considered one of the fairest in the nation. We will do our due diligence and review it thoroughly to ensure it is a fair set of maps for the people of Iowa.” Since Iowa’s redistricting process was adopted, the Legislature has never amended a plan from the Legislative Services Agency.