By now you may have read or heard news reports on the legislative redistricting process in Iowa. Every 10 years following the Census, the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency is tasked with drawing boundaries that determine state House, Senate and Congressional districts. Iowans should be proud of our redistricting process – it is one that is nonpartisan, honest and open for input from Iowans.
The new maps were delivered to the Legislature at 8:15am on Thursday and distributed to the members of the House, Senate and Congress. The maps outline four new Congressional districts, 50 new State Senate districts and 100 new House seats. The timeline for this first plan began Thursday – the next step will be public hearings beginning April 4th through the 7th. The first day the Legislature can consider a map is April 13th.
The map must be considered by the legislature. It cannot be amended and it must be voted on up or down in at least one chamber. If the first map fails to be approved, the LSA will start the process over, and a new plan must be delivered within 35 days. The Legislature cannot consider the second plan until at least seven days after its delivery. If the second plan fails, the third plan must be delivered to the General Assembly within 35 days of the rejection of the second plan. The major difference between the third plan and the first two is the fact that it’s amendable in the same manner as other bills. The Legislature can never go back and consider a previous map once a new one has been drawn.
Generally, a plan must be adopted by September 1, 2011 and signed by the governor by September 15th. If this does not occur, the Iowa Supreme Court is given power to create a redistricting plan. Historically, the legislature has accepted: the third plan without amendment (1981), the first plan (1991) and the second plan (2001).
For more information or to view the first map, you can visit http://www.legis.iowa.gov/Resources/Redist/redistricting.aspx
While redistricting consumed most of the legislature’s attention during the end of the week, the House started this week by passing a bill to restructure the Department of Economic Development by establishing the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress (IPEP). This bill reorganizes the current department into a new public Authority (Economic Development Authority), a private non-profit Corporation (Economic Development Corporation), and a vision board (Partnership for Economic Progress). Once established, this new structure will be better equipped in helping create an economic environment where Iowa employers are able to thrive and put Iowans back to work.
A lot of hard work was done in crafting this legislation. The bill, HF 590, went through a number of hearings and changes before it was ready to be considered by the full House. Republicans and Democrats worked together throughout the process providing input to strengthen oversight and transparency among other important improvements. In the end, it was approved in an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner. The bill changes the status quo in our approach to the state’s economic development efforts and will strengthen the Iowa economy, drawing new business to the state which will create more job opportunities for Iowans.
This week the House also debated HF 657, legislation to prevent late-term abortions from being performed in the state of Iowa. As you may know, Dr. Leroy Carhart, a late-term abortionist from Nebraska has stated he will move into Council Bluffs to continue his practice after a recent change to Nebraska law forced him to stop. The citizens of Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County and Iowans from across the state have asked the legislature to act on this issue to prevent this from happening. The House addressed this situation, and in a bipartisan manner, supported a bill to ensure Carhart and others do not come into Iowa. It now heads to the Senate for its consideration.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or my office at (515) 281-3521.