First Iowa redistricting plan fails on party-line vote in Senate

DES MOINES — Republicans in Iowa Senate have rejected the first plan for redrawing the boundaries for Iowa’s four congressional districts, 100 Iowa House districts and 50 Iowa Senate districts.

The bill came up for debate in the Iowa Senate early this afternoon. Senator Roby Smith of Davenport was the only Republican to speak.

“In assessing this plan there are clear indications that Plan 1 can be improved by a second iteration addressing compactness and population deviation,” he said.

Once the bill failed in the Senate, there was no need for House members to take a vote. All 32 Republicans in the Senate voted against the plan. The 18 Democrats voted for it. “The maps before us satisfy the Iowa law and the Iowa Constitution,” Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, said.

Senator Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, suggested the ultimate goal of Republicans is to get to a third plan which, by law, can be amended by legislators.

“We’re going to get trapped into a scenario that’s going to make Iowa look like some of the worst gerrymandering states in the United States,” Bisignano said. “…You move to the third plan, it will destroy this institution. It will destroy your majority. It will destroy your party also.”

Senator Smith, speaking on behalf of Republicans in the senate, said Iowa law stipulates that districts resemble, as much as possible, squares, rectangles or hexagons.

“This map includes a triangle, a pyramid, a figure eight and a district that is so irregular it looks like the 1800s salamander known for gerrymandering,” Smith said.

By state law, the non-partisan Legislative Committee now has up to 35 days — in the second week of November — to submit a second plan to legislators. Plan 2 for redistricting cannot be amended either. The state constitution requires the new plan for redistricting to be law by mid-September, but the U.S. Census population data for Iowa didn’t arrive until mid-August — five months late. The Iowa Supreme Court has given the legislature until December 1 to approve a redistricting plan, following the steps outlined in state law for the process.


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