Iowa Judicial Building. (RI Photo)

The Iowa Supreme Court has set December 1, 2021 as the deadline for Iowa lawmakers to approve new boundaries for Iowa congressional and legislative districts.

The Legislative Services Agency will release new maps Thursday, part of the once every 10 years process of redrawing congressional and legislative district lines based on new Census data. That data showing shifts in Iowa’s population didn’t get delivered until August — four months late — making it impossible to meet the September 15th constitutional deadline for having a redistricting plan approved.

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen has issued an order that sets December 1 as the new deadline. The chief justice said Iowa’s redistricting law has been recognized as the nation’s “gold standard” and has been studied and praised by redistricting commissions in other states. Christensen’s order cited the “strict criteria” the Legislative Services Agency uses to reconfigure the districts as she granted the legislative branch permission to proceed with the process that’s been used since 1981.

Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver of Ankeny said he appreciates the supreme court’s work in helping “to maintain Iowa’s nationally recognized redistricting process.” Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls of Coralville said the Legislature should “approve Plan 1…if it meets all the legal and constitutional requirements.”

Governor Kim Reynolds has set October 5, 2021 as the date for legislators to reconvene in special session to vote yes or no on the first set of maps that will be released this Thursday.