The Iowa Legislature convenes at 10 a.m. today in special session, to vote on the first plan for reconfiguring legislative and congressional district boundaries.
The new district maps are based on 2020 U.S. Census data, showing population loss in rural Iowa and gains in metro areas.
The top two Democrats in the Iowa legislature have announced they’ll vote for the plan. Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls of Coralville says there’s “no legitimate reason” to vote no.
“If Republicans vote down the first map, that is a clear signal that they are planning to gerrymander Iowa legislative districts to keep themselves in power,” Wahls says.
Republicans hold the majority of seats in both the Senate and the House. Republican leaders have avoided making any public declaration about the maps. “This is a decision for 10 years. I don’t think it’s something you just rush out immediately and be like, ‘Yes’ (or) ‘No.’ I think you have to make sure you really think through and take all the factors in play,” House Speaker Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, said during a recent appearance on “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS.
Today, legislators will be voting on what’s called Plan 1 and Iowa’s redistricting process does not allow the plan to be amended. If Plan 1 is rejected, the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency has 35 days to submit Plan 2 to lawmakers. The reapportionment process is usually done in the spring, but the late arrival of Census data pushed the process beyond the constitutional deadline for getting it done. The Iowa Supreme Court has given legislators leeway to follow Iowa’s redistricting rules, but has set December 1 as the deadline for completing the process.