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Mid-September target for release of new maps for Iowa congressional, legislative districts

Iowa Legislative Services Agency current map

DES MOINES — The agency in charge of redrawing boundaries for Iowa’s congressional and legislative districts plans to present legislators with a first set of proposed maps by September 16.

Dave Roederer, a long-time aide to both Governor Branstad and Governor Reynolds, is a Republican member of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission, which must hold at least three public hearings, then present a written report to lawmakers before the House and Senate may vote on the proposed maps. Roederer said despite the four-month delay in getting the 2020 Census data used to reconfigure districts, he doesn’t want to rush the process.

“We’re stuck with this for 10 years,” Roederer said during a commission meeting Tuesday. “…The goal shouldn’t be to just get it done on a certain date.”

The legislature will miss the September 1 deadline for approving a plan for redrawing the lines for House and Senate districts. After that date, the Iowa Supreme Court has the authority over the process. Legislators are interpreting a written statement the court issued in April as a signal the justices will let legislators proceed past that deadline.

Ed Cook, the Legislative Services Agency attorney in charge of developing the proposed maps from Census data delivered last Thursday, said there’s no way to meet that September 1 deadline.

“We would almost have to release the plan today,” Cook said. “…That’s just not going to happen.”

The Temporary Redistricting Commission plans to meet again next Monday to discuss dates, times and places for public hearings over the plan that does emerge in mid-September. Group members have signaled they’re open to holding the forums online rather than in person, due to the pandemic.

Sue Lerdal, who worked in the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency for nearly 33 years before her retirement in 2011, was just elected to serve as the chair of the redistricting commission.

“I grew up a county auditor’s kid, so I’ve been involved since I was quite young,” she said. “I remember setting up voting machines with my dad.”

Two members of the group are Republicans and two are Democrats, appointed to the temporary panel early this year by partisan leaders in the legislature. The group had been unable to agree on a fifth member until Tuesday.


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